Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams

Posted by: Bostonian

Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 08:33 AM

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.
Posted by: Dude

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 08:41 AM

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.
Posted by: Old Dad

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 09:11 AM

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
Posted by: Val

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 09:58 AM

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.


Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 10:13 AM

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
Posted by: Val

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 10:17 AM

Okay, fair enough. I didn't realize that there was a third AP physics.
Posted by: nicoledad

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 10:23 AM

It's obviously all about money. AP's were fine for how long and now their not.
Posted by: Dude

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 10:51 AM

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.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 11:49 AM

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.
Posted by: Val

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 11:51 AM

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.
Posted by: Val

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 11:57 AM

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.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 12:01 PM

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.

Posted by: Quantum2003

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 12:05 PM

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.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 12:09 PM

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.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 12:10 PM

Originally Posted By: Portia
Hmmm... aren't credit and placement two different topics?


Yes, but they can converge.
Posted by: Val

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 01:07 PM

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.
Posted by: cricket3

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 01:56 PM

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 I’m 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. It’s 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 doesn’t 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.
Posted by: ElizabethN

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 03:55 PM

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.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/25/18 07:00 PM

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.
Posted by: cricket3

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/26/18 04:23 AM

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 kids’ 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 “seminar,” 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 can’t 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).
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/26/18 11:33 AM

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).


Points all well-taken. We're talking about the same kinds of institutions. Where our perspectives may differ is in fields of study.

My non-U.S. undergrad school had an outstanding economics program that consistently placed a large proportion of its graduates in the Harvard PhD program, and most of my third and fourth year professors had taught at Harvard or Princeton previously. My professors for third year microeconomics and fourth year econometrics said that they used their first year PhD syllabuses from Harvard for our courses. Even in that environment, there was nothing special about our freshman economics classes. First year economics is largely a canned course in basic concepts and can easily be re-produced in an IB/AP setting, even at terrific schools.

Now, I grant you that other subjects--particularly in the humanities-- have more variability in teaching standards that are specific to programs or professors. In those cases, departmental standards trump any external indicators. I buy that. smile
Posted by: Thomas Percy

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/27/18 06:32 AM

Originally Posted By: aquinas
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).


Points all well-taken. We're talking about the same kinds of institutions. Where our perspectives may differ is in fields of study.

My non-U.S. undergrad school had an outstanding economics program that consistently placed a large proportion of its graduates in the Harvard PhD program, and most of my third and fourth year professors had taught at Harvard or Princeton previously. My professors for third year microeconomics and fourth year econometrics said that they used their first year PhD syllabuses from Harvard for our courses. Even in that environment, there was nothing special about our freshman economics classes. First year economics is largely a canned course in basic concepts and can easily be re-produced in an IB/AP setting, even at terrific schools.

Now, I grant you that other subjects--particularly in the humanities-- have more variability in teaching standards that are specific to programs or professors. In those cases, departmental standards trump any external indicators. I buy that. smile


I am in your field. The bold part may be true but from the little bit I know about how economics are taught in k-12, it is far from being the reality.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/27/18 07:44 AM

Originally Posted By: Thomas Percy
I am in your field. The bold part may be true but from the little bit I know about how economics are taught in k-12, it is far from being the reality.


I'm not understanding your argument. Maybe you can help me. Are you saying that IB/AP economics classes fail to even meet the standard of providing the equivalent content of a generic first year class?

Frankly, and I say this with some self-deprecation, most people with a serious chance in the field could read first year economics texts on a 3-hour bus ride and be adequately prepared for the end-of-year final.

For my second-year micro students, I used to summarize the entire course's models and proofs on 3 double-sided pages and provide copies in my first seminar. If they could derive any of the material there, they were ready for the final and were excused from further attendance. The rest is just case-specific application from a general template.
Posted by: Thomas Percy

Re: Harvard drops credit for AP and IB exams - 04/27/18 08:31 AM

Originally Posted By: aquinas
Originally Posted By: Thomas Percy
I am in your field. The bold part may be true but from the little bit I know about how economics are taught in k-12, it is far from being the reality.


I'm not understanding your argument. Maybe you can help me. Are you saying that IB/AP economics classes fail to even meet the standard of providing the equivalent content of a generic first year class?

Frankly, and I say this with some self-deprecation, most people with a serious chance in the field could read first year economics texts on a 3-hour bus ride and be adequately prepared for the end-of-year final.

For my second-year micro students, I used to summarize the entire course's models and proofs on 3 double-sided pages and provide copies in my first seminar. If they could derive any of the material there, they were ready for the final and were excused from further attendance. The rest is just case-specific application from a general template.


Yes. I taught economics at the university level for years. I would prefer they don't take economics at the high school level.

I do agree with you the core knowledge of at least microeconomics can be distilled into a few pages. But to be able to apply economics thinking takes much repetition. I don't think many can do what you described.