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    #242369 - 04/25/18 08:33 AM Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams
    Bostonian Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2630
    Loc: MA
    Yes, as even some Harvard faculty concede, "The change also seems at odds with efforts nationwide to make college studies more flexible, affordable, and accessible."

    I attended Harvard and graduated in 3 years because of AP credits. Now that would be impossible. Harvard does not have some special take on single-variable calculus, and the notion that no AP course can be comparable to a Harvard course is self-serving nonsense. Freshman courses in calculus, physics, chemistry, biology and other subjects can be cash cows for universities, since only a single professor is
    needed for hundreds of students, and teaching assistants are paid little.

    Advanced Standing Reduced
    by JOHN S. ROSENBERG
    Harvard Magazine
    MAY-JUNE 2018
    Quote:
    FOLLOWING ITS DECEMBER discussion of a proposal to eliminate Harvard College course credit for Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses—thereby limiting students’ ability to fast-track their A.B. or graduate with a simultaneous master’s, typically in a sciences or engineering field (see “Overhauling Advanced Standing,” March-April, page 22)—the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) accepted an amended course of action at a sparsely attended meeting on February 6.

    Taking into account concerns raised in December, dean of undergraduate education Jay M. Harris introduced a scrubbed-down policy. Beginning with students entering the College in 2020, course credit would no longer be awarded “for work completed prior to their matriculation,” except for credits earned at Harvard’s extension or summer schools. This would extend the practice already in place in all departments except economics, mathematics, and psychology (which in effect recognize top scores in AP or IB classes as a substitute for introductory College courses in those disciplines). Departments would be allowed to continue using AP and IB examinations for course placement—and (the one exception) to satisfy the undergraduate foreign-language requirement. A separate committee would be formed to recommend rules and procedures for undergraduates hoping to pursue a concurrent master’s degree in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; it would report within a year.

    Harris observed that across most of FAS, AP and IB classes are regarded as not equivalent to the work required in College classes—so it makes no sense to allow students to count them toward earning an A.B. short of Harvard’s “curated eight-semester experience.”

    Faculty members present raised several concerns. First, the change would eliminate the opportunity to graduate in six or seven semesters—an option that might appeal to a very few students with compelling personal or family financial or health concerns, or unique intellectual trajectories. Peer institutions permit accelerated undergraduate studies, so Harvard might unilaterally weaken its appeal to such applicants. The change also seems at odds with efforts nationwide to make college studies more flexible, affordable, and accessible.

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    #242370 - 04/25/18 08:41 AM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: Bostonian]
    Dude Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    A Harvard education is a Veblen good and they know it. But they're a private institution and there are plenty of other options, so, meh. They can do whatever they like as far as I'm concerned.

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    #242372 - 04/25/18 09:11 AM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: spaghetti]
    Old Dad Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/30/12
    Posts: 423
    Originally Posted By: spaghetti

    I figured it was based on actual experience with students being unprepared possibly as a result of the nationwide push for early college to be available for high school students.


    I'm certain that is in "part" some of the reason in some cases, however, as has been the our experience, even among state regent colleges where I live, trying to get one state college to transfer credits for the same course to another state college can be quite a process and isn't guaranteed.

    See the thread linked for an expanded discussion on the topic:

    http://giftedissues.davidsongifted.org/B...html#Post238592

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    #242373 - 04/25/18 09:58 AM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: spaghetti]
    Val Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3294
    Loc: California
    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)

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    #242374 - 04/25/18 10:13 AM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: Val]
    Bostonian Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2630
    Loc: MA
    Originally Posted By: Val
    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.

    They would take the AP Physics C exam, which uses calculus. The available AP exams are listed at https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/apcourse . For physics there is

    AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
    AP Physics C: Mechanics
    AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based
    AP Physics 2: Algebra-Based

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    #242375 - 04/25/18 10:17 AM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: Bostonian]
    Val Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3294
    Loc: California
    Okay, fair enough. I didn't realize that there was a third AP physics.

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    #242376 - 04/25/18 10:23 AM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: Bostonian]
    nicoledad Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/26/12
    Posts: 235
    It's obviously all about money. AP's were fine for how long and now their not.

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    #242377 - 04/25/18 10:51 AM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: Bostonian]
    Dude Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    Counterpoint for Val: The College Board has certain guidelines that must be followed for an APUSH course, so it's not just about the test. If the course itself meets reading/writing guidelines throughout the year, and the test is simply a checkpoint to validate that the student acquired the information, isn't that sufficient?

    Any students who are unprepared for the required writing output will still find themselves challenged in other courses they were unable to bypass via AP. It's not like it's a unique property of freshman courses.

    All experiences will be unique, of course, but I don't recall having to do a whole lot of writing in the college history course I took. I do recall a lot of writing in the college English course, but it didn't feel like much more than in my AP English class.

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    #242379 - 04/25/18 11:49 AM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: Bostonian]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2496
    It seems Harvard will be less competitive among high-achieving students, then. I think it's a poor strategic move and will undermine the quality of incoming classes in future.

    IB credits were a source of part of my undergraduate acceleration. Absent that credit recognition, I would have chosen to attend a different university for undergraduate studies. This seems like a money grab to monetize high-performing students at no extra value to the student for an additional 1+ years.

    Even in a situation where AP/IB credits are a poor approximation for freshman classes, the end product of a degree program at an elite university is a student who can produce high caliber fourth year work. That student will have to contend with upper class material upon matriculation, and be competitive within that cohort. As long as the grading mechanisms within the institution are internally consistent (big assumption, I know!), students who are under-prepared will not perform as well in later coursework.

    The goal of universities should be to maximize their students' access to multiple knowledge areas, and to develop deep talent and interdisciplinary professionals. Creating arbitrary administrative barriers to that process is the reason why many smart students will choose more flexible programs, or forego university altogether, if they can hack an education better on their own.
    _________________________
    What is to give light must endure burning.

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    #242380 - 04/25/18 11:51 AM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: Dude]
    Val Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3294
    Loc: California
    Sort of...the College Board requires that the material be covered, and covering it all means memorizing a lot.

    My eldest started APUSH with Hopkins CTY and it was a disaster that he dropped after 2 weeks. Memorize, regurgitate, move on. The "essays" were to be written in 40 minutes online. It was all test prep and minimal in the way of meaningful content. And this was via CTY.

    Quote:
    I don't recall having to do a whole lot of writing in the college history course I took.


    I'm going to posit that this is a more-often-than-not thing, and that it's a big problem. Historians synthesize data, draw conclusions, and write about it. In that sense, history is similar to an observational science. Obviously, there are differences, but in history, if you want to make a claim, you have to back it up with data.

    Reading texts and primary sources, synthesizing information, and writing about it coherently is very, very hard. American students don't learn how to do this, by and large, and it creates a huge skill gap here, which shows. Our education system and culture have a short-term focus, which creates all kinds of problems (e.g. not seeing the value of a subsidized university education).

    AP humanities and social sciences classes fit right into that category, in that they aren't focused on teaching students how to analyze information at a honest college level. Instead, they focus on "learning the material" and a relatively superficial understanding of causes and effects. Knowing which admiral was in charge in the Pacific in 1943 and why specific battles were fought is very different from understanding the overall environment that led to the war and etc. The AP approach tends toward the superficial end of the learning pool. This is okay-ish for high school. Not so much for a good college, by a wide margin.

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