AP and core requirements

Can you explain why the committee recommended eliminating AP credit for core requirements?


Long answer: First, the CCRC felt that courses in the core should be something that our students cannot get in high school. Core courses should excite and inspire the students toward further exploration by giving context to the value added by a given Way of Knowing. For example, a high school AP course in physics produces students who are proficient in solving physics problems. However, very few students, not even prospective science majors, come to Notre Dame with a good understanding of how science research is done, what it means to draw scientific conclusions from large datasets, etc. If a student is going to take one science course as part of the core, the latter set of topics would go much further toward preparing a student for life in modern society.
 
Second, we found that under current policy, the decision to accept AP exam scores for credit is made by the department administering the relevant course. As a result, AP policy is inconsistent. AP credit may currently be used to satisfy core requirements in Science (with Biology, Chemistry, or Physics exams), Mathematics (Calculus or Statistics), Social Science (Economics, Government, or Psychology), and Writing and Rhetoric (English Literature or Language). It may not be used to satisfy requirements in History, Theology, Philosophy, Fine Arts or Literature, or the University Seminar. For Mathematics and Social Science courses, a score of 5 is required for credit, while a score of 4 is accepted for credit in Science and Writing and Rhetoric courses.

The CCRC felt that a consistent policy is needed—either AP credit should be accepted for all core requirements for which there is an AP course that is sufficiently aligned with the requirement’s learning goals, or it should not be accepted for any courses in the core. The draft report summarizes the key factors in the committee’s decision to recommend against allowing AP credit to count for core requirements. 

Finally, while the CCRC recommended against allowing AP credit to count for core requirements, it strongly supports the use of AP credit to place students in appropriate courses, and for credit toward degrees at the discretion of colleges and schools. Regarding the use of AP credit in this way, the committee accepted the AP Focus Group’s recommendation that a process be created at the University level to establish consistent policy across disciplines, with an emphasis on student learning. A decision to no longer accept credit for a comparable course would need to be supported by evidence of a mismatch between test and course, or a systematic lack of student preparedness for subsequent classes.
The committee anticipates that with such a process, the types of AP examinations that are accepted for placement or for some type of credit would actually be expanded. For example, the AP examinations in United States History, European History, World History, English-Literature and Composition, and Computer Science are not currently accepted for credit at the University, but might reasonably be under a consistent AP policy.

More discussion and data related to the committee’s AP recommendations is available in the final report of the Advanced Placement Focus Group.

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