Credit for prior learning – what impact do AP or IB scores have on UK student success in their majors? on UK graduation rates?

From UGE Weekly Updates by Dr. Benjamin C. Withers, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education:

As a member of the College Board’s AP Higher Education Advisory Committee, I receive periodic communication from members of the College Board staff. Last week Camilla Crump, the College Board’s Director of Higher Education Strategy and Outreach, shared an interesting article in Education Week about the variance of credit policies for AP tests at universities.

Camilla summarized several key points from the article:

  • Compared to their non-AP student counterparts, college students with AP Credits do not generally graduate sooner than four years
  • Students with AP credits tend to remain in school for the full four (or four-plus) years to enhance their educational experiences by choosing to double-major, add a minor, or have the flexibility to study abroad
  • The cost savings benefit of AP credits for students appears in the form of completing their degrees in four years instead of in four and a half years or longer.  AP students don’t, generally speaking, graduate earlier than four years.
  • There is a tension between students’ desire for a uniform and portable standard for institutional credit policy and with institutions that value the AP/IB/dual enrollment standards with varying independence.

Compared to some other universities UK has rather generous and clearly stated policies. However, as Assistant Provost Randolph Hollingsworth has pointed out to me, we do not have clear evidence for how these policies impact students in major pathways at UK. The intention behind Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) is to get students who arrive at universities off to a faster start by placing them at a higher level of college work. Is there a way UK could attract more high performing students if we could show them that we can move more quickly and assuredly than other universities to help them reach individual goals? As the article above states, many students want to graduate in four years, but with a double or triple-major; could more students start graduate work (through the UK University Scholars Program, for example) if we can calibrate AP/IB credit with program requirements in the right way?

Understanding the options and evidence might help department-level faculty understand the potential impact of their decisions when they equate AP/IB scores to particular courses and it could help advisors when they work with students who are in the position to take advantage of their exemplary preparation for college.


About UK Student and Academic Life

Undergraduate Education is now recreated within the Division of Student and Academic Life in the Provost's Office at the University of Kentucky.
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