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    #242381 - 04/25/18 11:57 AM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: aquinas]
    Val Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3296
    Loc: California
    Originally Posted By: aquinas
    IEven 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.


    If the university determines that the AP or IB classes don't meet their standards, why would it want to set students up for problems in upper division courses?

    If I had gone into second-year English or History classes based entirely on my AP classes (I got As), I would have crashed and burned, and maybe ended up repeating a year or going to a less rigorous college.

    People here complain that poor HS preparation leads to remedial math and English courses for many students, and contributes to poor outcomes. Why should we allow poor preparation a step or two up from remedial? Why pretend AP classes accurately reflect what should be expected from a first-year history or English class at a college with high standards? Remember that AP classes were designed to mirror community college classes, and CC classes are generally easier that classes at more rigorous colleges.


    Edited by Val (04/25/18 12:01 PM)

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    #242385 - 04/25/18 12:01 PM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: Bostonian]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2513
    Originally Posted By: Val
    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.


    I agree. However, where we differ is in our perception of the value of first-year university education in these areas. I maintain that most first year courses are superficial, at best, and so why require students to undertake two rounds of fluff courses to access the meaningful content?

    I don't say this to denigrate, but I am convinced that most honours undergraduate programs could properly be 2 years long among motivated students who do have those skills you describe above, Val. It should really be a question of individual student initiative, ingenuity, and original research at the fourth year level for graduate-bound students, anyway.

    Where I studied my undergrad, we were able to accept first year transfer credits for IB/AP and accelerate into graduate series courses in upper classes in fourth year if we could hack it, compressing class time in PhDs. To me, this was a system that worked well.

    _________________________
    What is to give light must endure burning.

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    #242387 - 04/25/18 12:05 PM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: Bostonian]
    Quantum2003 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/08/11
    Posts: 1432
    Color me cynical as well - it's all about the money!

    For the record, I am vehemently against eliminating college credit for AP.

    Of course, if I am trying to support their point of view, here are my observations:

    Too many lower ability/achievement high school students are taking AP courses, which tend to lower the rigor of these classes. Too many of these same students are taking the AP exams, which lowers the actual standards of the AP scores because the AP exams are curved. Aside from AP Physics C, AP Calculus is probably the most objectively accepted AP credits. However, the standards for earning even a 5 on AP Calculus AB is ridiculously low and disturbingly more so for BC, which according to DS requires not much more than half the points. My kids are taking the AP American Government exam without benefit of the AP course. While they are at a disadvantage due to not having covered all the topics in their freshman Am Govt course, the standards for even a 5 are low enough that they should not have any problems with just a couple of practices. I don't remember what they told me but I think it might have been around 75 percent for a 5 on a recent exam.

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    #242389 - 04/25/18 12:09 PM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: Val]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2513
    Originally Posted By: Val
    Originally Posted By: aquinas
    IEven 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.


    If the university determines that the AP or IB classes don't meet their standards, why would it want to set students up for problems in upper division courses?

    If I had gone into second-year English or History classes based entirely on my AP classes (I got As), I would have crashed and burned, and maybe ended up repeating a year or going to a less rigorous college.

    People here complain that poor HS preparation leads to remedial math and English courses for many students, and contributes to poor outcomes. Why should we allow poor preparation a step or two up from remedial? Why pretend AP classes accurately reflect what should be expected from a first-year history or English class at a college with high standards? Remember that AP classes were designed to mirror community college classes, and CC classes are generally easier that classes at more rigorous colleges.


    It may be that you're focusing more on the total cohort's performance, given that you have a post-secondary educator's lens, whereas I'm looking at how the policy affects students like myself. I see this issue as analogous to grade skips in K-12; if the student can do it, let him/her; else, let the student incur the natural consequences (repeating the class, moving down a level).

    I grant you that simply promoting students into the next level without the requisite skill set is undesirable.

    This also speaks to the need for communication within departments with potential accelerants. When I matriculated, I met with the undergraduate program dean to assess my suitability for taking on upper-year coursework in my major, and for taking an additional course in my courseload. The rest of the credits granted were based on measurable performance (languages, calculus). For one language, I met with the department head and received placement into an upper level class. For calculus, I could have simply taken the end-of-year exam as proof, with or without IB/AP placements.

    To synthesize what is otherwise a horribly rambling post, I'll say this: students should be able to contest the final evaluations of whatever courses they like, whenever they like, AP/IB credits or not. If you can handle the material and thrive, do it! If not, follow the wisdom of the deans and map your course plan accordingly.
    _________________________
    What is to give light must endure burning.

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    #242390 - 04/25/18 12:10 PM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: Portia]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2513
    Originally Posted By: Portia
    Hmmm... aren't credit and placement two different topics?


    Yes, but they can converge.
    _________________________
    What is to give light must endure burning.

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    #242393 - 04/25/18 01:07 PM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: aquinas]
    Val Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3296
    Loc: California
    I want to make one thing very clear: I'm talking about places like Harvard, not about a community college or a local state U. CCs and state universities should definitely accept AP credits.

    Harvard is supposed to be an elite college with very high standards. IMO, AP classes don't meet those standards (except for SV Calculus and Physics C, providing you can pass Harvard's final for each equivalent course).

    Originally Posted By: aquinas
    I maintain that most first year courses are superficial, at best, and so why require students to undertake two rounds of fluff courses to access the meaningful content?


    This may be a point where we think we're talking about the same thing, but we're not. The history and English departments at my alma mater didn't offer fluffy first-year courses. So, example:

    My second semester freshman English course focused on three works: King Lear (read 3 times), Paradise Lost, and Middlemarch (read twice each). The point of this class was to examine epic works in three forms in depth (a play, verse, and prose). What did they have in common (structurally, narratively)? What was the major theme of each work, and how did it fit with the others and with the human condition in general? Pick out the theme sentence from each one and discuss. Examine the flaws in the major character in each, and discuss/compare/contrast. Compare with people in real life. Etc. I assure you, this was not a fluffy course. It was as difficult as anything the chem department could throw at me at that level (maybe harder, because first semester O-chem is relatively straightforward, while Middlemarch is not).


    Originally Posted By: aquinas
    ..students should be able to contest the final evaluations of whatever courses they like, whenever they like, AP/IB credits or not. If you can handle the material and thrive, do it! If not, follow the wisdom of the deans and map your course plan accordingly.


    I agree completely, because this approach forces a student to meet the college's own standards.


    Edited by Val (04/25/18 01:11 PM)

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    #242394 - 04/25/18 01:56 PM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: Val]
    cricket3 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/09
    Posts: 693
    Originally Posted By: Val
    I want to make one thing very clear: I'm talking about places like Harvard, not about a community college or a local state U. CCs and state universities should definitely accept AP credits.

    Harvard is supposed to be an elite college with very high standards. IMO, AP classes don't meet those standards (except for SV Calculus and Physics C, providing you can pass Harvard's final for each equivalent course).

    Originally Posted By: aquinas
    I maintain that most first year courses are superficial, at best, and so why require students to undertake two rounds of fluff courses to access the meaningful content?


    This may be a point where we think we're talking about the same thing, but we're not. The history and English departments at my alma mater didn't offer fluffy first-year courses.
    Originally Posted By: Val
    I want to make one thing very clear: I'm talking about places like Harvard, not about a community college or a local state U. CCs and state universities should definitely accept AP credits.

    Harvard is supposed to be an elite college with very high standards. IMO, AP classes don't meet those standards (except for SV Calculus and Physics C, providing you can pass Harvard's final for each equivalent course).

    [quote=aquinas]I maintain that most first year courses are superficial, at best, and so why require students to undertake two rounds of fluff courses to access the meaningful content?


    This may be a point where we think we're talking about the same thing, but we're not. The history and English departments at my alma mater didn't offer fluffy first-year courses. ....


    This.

    Though Iím not sure even about calc BC and physics C. My DD, despite having a 100 average in physics C, does not feel she has a deep grasp of the material. She does find calc to be easy and straightforward, but there are many, many kids in her class who struggle with understanding, yet will probably do well enough on the exam. Itís just not that difficult.

    Right now DD is figuring out which AP exams she is going to bail out of, because now that she has decided upon a particular college, most of the exams she had signed up for are not going to be useful to her. She doesnít have much respect for the AP system, frankly. She took most of the classes because they were the most challenging classes available to her, not because she expected to get credit; she was fairly sure things would work out as they have, with the prospect of placing out of a few things, but no actual credits granted. And most of the placement can also be done through departmental exams, so for her the exams have been mostly unnecessary. We are in the process of seeing which if any of her dual enrollment credits will transfer, but are not expecting much, because as Val points out, the institutions are not truly comparable.

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    #242395 - 04/25/18 03:55 PM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: Val]
    ElizabethN Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/17/12
    Posts: 1390
    Loc: Seattle area
    Originally Posted By: Val
    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.


    I'm going to weigh in with my 35-year-old personal experience of APUSH, for what little it is worth. The teacher was dreadful, and we often had classes where we were told to read the textbook while he put his head down on the desk and took a nap. The weekly quizzes were completely focused on memorizing the textbook - I remember a question that was literally about what color shirt someone was wearing in one of the illustrations. Exams were also mostly multiple choice, and aimed at preparing to score well on the multiple-choice part of the exam by remembering a lot of facts and dates. The teacher told us outright that the essays were very difficult, and that it was unlikely that any of us could do well on them. For that alleged reason, he offered to retroactively change the grade of anyone who got a 5 on the test to an A in his class, if we hadn't earned one already.

    During the multiple-choice exam, there were a bunch of questions that talked about "evidence" and "primary sources," two phrases that I was familiar with from my science classes but had never heard in history class. As I was taking the exam, I figured out that the test designers thought that these were important, and tailored my answers accordingly. When I got to the essays, there were again references to evidence, and they actually gave us a fictitious "primary source" to read and answer questions about. Having been primed by the multiple-choice part, I answered these questions more like they were science questions. I was fairly fluent in this way of thinking because my parents were both trained as scientists - my father has a PhD in chemical engineering (but with more of a straight-chemistry work background), and my mother has an MS in zoology.

    I got my 5, and my B- in history was retroactively changed to an A. (And that's how I qualified as valedictorian - it was my only B in high school. I was one of nine valedictorians in my year, all of us with 4.0 GPAs.) I attended UC Berkeley for a year and then transferred to MIT; both institutions gave me credit for the exam.

    I'm not sure exactly what this says about APUSH as it was 35 years ago, let alone what it is today. It is clear that they try to focus on evidence and on primary sources, but if someone can figure out those concepts and apply them well enough to get a 5 when exposed to them for the first time during the exam, they can't possibly be very deep. On the other hand, I am told that the requirements for coursework have gotten more stringent in the interim, and maybe the test has too.

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    #242396 - 04/25/18 07:00 PM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: Bostonian]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3974
    I have absolutely zero personal experience with APUSH, but one of the faculty in our school has written items for the test, and I will say this individual runs a pretty rigorous AP class. We also happen to have two history faculty with content area doctorates (i.e., not administrative EdDs), including this faculty member (who taught at the university level prior to taking this position).

    I'm going to guess that instruction is highly variable, depending on the school. But in our building, which is not even a comprehensive, hence far from being an exceptionally high-achieving high school, it can be pretty respectable.
    _________________________
    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...

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    #242400 - 04/26/18 04:23 AM Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams [Re: aeh]
    cricket3 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/09
    Posts: 693
    Originally Posted By: aeh
    I have absolutely zero personal experience with APUSH, but one of the faculty in our school has written items for the test, and I will say this individual runs a pretty rigorous AP class. We also happen to have two history faculty with content area doctorates (i.e., not administrative EdDs), including this faculty member (who taught at the university level prior to taking this position).

    I'm going to guess that instruction is highly variable, depending on the school. But in our building, which is not even a comprehensive, hence far from being an exceptionally high-achieving high school, it can be pretty respectable.


    I would agree. I actually think APUSH and world history were both very well taught at my kidsí school. However, to actually complete all the assigned reading requirements, hand in formalized notes, research, timed essays, etc, required ridiculous amounts of time and effort which are truly unreasonable for most high schoolers with a normal class schedule. According to my DD, the majority of her classmates found ways to skirt the requirements, using resources from the internet or their classmates. The number of kids in the class was also unreasonable, which made ďseminar,Ē a weekly occurrence intended to be an in-depth discussion, kind of a farce and also easily gamed. So yes, it is possible to learn a great deal, but it is also possible to do minimal shoddy work and still gain the AP designation (I canít say what percentage of kids like this earned 5s, but our history department prides itself on the percentages of 5s their students receive, so it must be sort of ok).

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