Different perspectives here:

1. AP courses aren't generally up to the standard of a course at a good private college. I studied history and chemistry at a small liberal arts college. All my history classes involved reading a lot and writing a lot. The AP exams are largely structured around memorizing stuff. Even after the redo, they have 55 multiple choice questions counting for 40% of the grade.

Memorizing facts after about ~6th grade isn't learning history, and if I was a faculty member, I wouldn't accept an AP history class for college credit. Ditto for AP English for the same reasons. It looks like AP physics is algebra based, so that's out for STEM types. Etc.

Calculus is different, admittedly. I'll give you that.

2. That said, this debate depends on how you look at the question. If you see a BA as a certification process, there are arguments to be made for accepting AP classes. Check the box and move on. Money is also a huge factor that can't be ignored. But this leads back to previous threads and I don't want to open that topic here; suffice to say that cost and product quality are part of a larger question about what we want from education in the US, but we're not talking about money here.

If you see a college education as a process that teaches people how to think and forces them to be uncomfortable, there are arguments against accepting AP. Students learn more if their freshman humanities classes require submitting a 3-4 page paper every week (the papers get longer after that). My classmates and I did that, and we learned a lot. We also suffered a lot. It was hard --- not in terms of volume of information memorized, but in terms of ideas synthesized and expressed coherently. That was the point.

Large public universities and community colleges tend to rely more on multiple choice testing (e.g. my eldest's English courses had MC exams). IMO, this cheats students because those essays are where the real learning happens.

I don't know if Harvard or my alma mater rely on MC tests now. They didn't then. Given what they're charging, they shouldn't. They should be assigning lots of writing in the humanities and lots of handwritten problem sets in the STEM subjects. And no excuses about not being able to correct it all, as happens elsewhere.

3. I admit that grade inflation at Harvard and other top-tier colleges is a serious problem, and have criticized my alma mater here (e.g. too many majors in navel gazing now, and watering down of science requirements). So I don't know if the quality of an education at these places is up to the standards of, say, the 80s and 90s. But even if it's fallen, maybe the move to reject AP classes is an attempt to raise standards.




Edited by Val (04/25/18 10:03 AM)