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Letter: Dartmouth’s Rationale on AP Courses

To the Editor:

Jay Mathews’ Jan. 31 column, “Dartmouth Shows a High Regard for Itself,” spotlights a policy recently approved by Dartmouth’s faculty. While Advanced Placement test scores will continue to be used for placement, beginning with the class of 2018 Dartmouth will no longer grant credit toward graduation for such scores.

Mathews misrepresents the rationale for the policy modification and the implications for students. His assertion that the decision derives from faculty resentment of high school teachers is wrong. Rather, the decision is rooted in a deeply held belief among our faculty that AP classes, rigorous as they are for high school, are not the same as taking an undergraduate class at Dartmouth. This decision was not reached in haste; the faculty began to consider this issue roughly 10 years ago.

Our policy is not a rejection of the value of AP classes or the quality education that high school teachers provide. We greatly value the work done by the College Board’s AP program to challenge and prepare high school students for course work at Dartmouth and other colleges and universities around the country.

Students with qualifying AP scores will continue to be able to place out of certain introductory courses or be exempted from certain requirements. This policy modification is intended to ensure the proper course placement of our students while enabling them to get the most out of the undergraduate education we offer at Dartmouth.

This change is also part of Dartmouth’s ongoing effort to improve the institution’s academic rigor and follows other steps we’ve recently taken to that end, including eliminating exemptions from the writing requirement for first-year students.

Additionally, it does not alter our strong commitment to affordability; Dartmouth currently meets 100 percent of demonstrated need in financial aid.

Dartmouth has a tradition of educating the most promising students and preparing them for a lifetime of learning; it is consistently recognized for its excellence in undergraduate teaching. The faculty is dedicated to providing a rigorous and challenging undergraduate curriculum; the AP modification was crafted in that spirit.

Michael Mastanduno

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Dartmouth College


Column: Dartmouth Shows a High Regard for Itself

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Most college professors rightly consider themselves part of an elite. They have doctorates. They have tenure. They’re special. Few professors objected when the College Board’s Advanced Placement program began in 1955. It granted college credit for good grades on college-level courses taught only at elite high schools such as Exeter, Bronx Science and New Trier. Many professors’ views of AP …