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Boston University Arts & Sciences
CAS News May 8, 2012
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Determining How AP Scores Are Used to Award Credit
The Academic Policy Committee has established a framework and a timeline for full participation of CAS faculty and departments in determining how Advanced Placement (AP) scores should be used to award credit toward the BA.

At issue, along with how much elective college credit to award, is how AP scores function as placement tools to exempt students from introductory coursework, and whether AP credit should be applied to specific degree requirements in the major field of study and/or in general education. The following summarizes steps taken to date and sets the agenda for the department-based discussions that will inform the development of a comprehensive Advanced Placement proposal for discussion and vote at a special faculty meeting or series of meetings early in the Fall 2012 semester.

Preliminary steps to date
  • Expansion of departmental divisional course lists, beginning in 2010–2011 and ongoing, has provided students with a wider array of options and greater scheduling flexibility, thus making it feasible to restrict the use of AP credit to satisfy general education requirements for study in breadth across the four curricular divisions of the humanities, computational, natural, and social sciences.

  • The faculty voted at its March 2012 meeting to establish “4” as the College-wide minimum qualifying score on AP exams for the award of credit.

  • Also discussed at the March 2012 meeting was a proposal to establish 32 as the maximum number of credits from AP and other like (e.g., IB) exams that a student may apply toward the degree. Some participants favored a lower maximum, and this question will be revisited in the comprehensive proposal.
Departmental Discussions:
The charge to CAS departments and undergraduate academic programs is twofold:
  1. To review AP exams in their disciplinary areas and, by September 20, 2012, either confirm or revise current CAS credit and course equivalencies for qualifying scores on those exams. Chairs and directors should send a written report of decisions reached in their departments to Associate Dean Susan Jackson.

  2. As part of this review, departments and programs are encouraged to consider the advisability of limiting the number of CAS credits awarded on the basis of a single AP exam to 4 (one course at the appropriate level). Some departments currently award 8 credits (two courses) for a single exam. Would there be any drawbacks to establishing a one-course maximum as general College policy? Departments are also asked to consider the question of advanced standing and to articulate the range of more advanced courses for which students with AP-based advanced standing in the discipline would be qualified with no additional prerequisites.

    Finally, departments are asked to specify how AP-based credit should function in the context of the majors and minors they offer. For example, does that credit count toward the total number of courses required for the major/minor? Or should students with AP-based advanced standing in the major be required to substitute a more advanced course or courses toward the required total?

  3. To consider whether the College should continue or should revise our current policy allowing AP credits to be applied to fulfillment of divisional studies requirements for breadth of study.
As a basis for discussion, current policy with regard to divisional studies is summarized here, followed by two possible revisions (in bold type):

Current policy: Divisional Studies requires 6 one-semester divisional studies courses, two in each of the three divisions outside the division of the student’s major. At least one divisional course completed in the division of natural sciences must be designated as including a laboratory component.

Possible Revision #1: Divisional Studies requires 6 one-semester divisional studies courses, two in each of the three divisions outside the division of the student’s major. At least one divisional course completed in the division of natural sciences must be designated as including a laboratory component. At least one of the two divisional courses required in each of the three outside divisions must be taken after matriculation as a college student. No more than 8 credits awarded for qualifying scores on Advanced Placement exams may be applied toward fulfillment of the divisional studies requirement.

Possible Revision #2: Divisional Studies requires 6 one-semester divisional studies courses, two in each of the three divisions outside the division of the student’s major. At least one divisional course completed in the division of natural sciences must be designated as including a laboratory component. All divisional courses must be taken after matriculation as a college student. Credits awarded for qualifying scores on Advanced Placement exams may not be applied toward fulfillment of the divisional studies requirement.

A revised policy would ensure that all students graduating with the BA have undertaken some breadth of study across the liberal arts and sciences in a college setting. Expanded divisional studies lists, together with the existing option of Core, provide matriculated students with a significant range of ways to achieve this breadth over the course of four years. In proposing two different scenarios for revision of the divisional studies requirement, the APC encourages department faculties to consider each of them not only in terms of implications for their own majors, but also in light of the overall goals and principal components of a CAS education.

All departments will take up the question of whether AP exams can be used to fulfill requirements in general education.
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