UT opinions on AP courses rigor and place in college credit claims

Reagan Ritterbush

As claiming college credit through AP credit becomes increasingly popular, colleges have begun questioning whether or not the practice should even be allowed.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, some colleges, including Duke University, are pushing back against AP exam credit because high school courses are not on par with college classes. At least 20 states, including Texas, must award credit for all AP scores of 3–5, according to the article.

“We believe that exams can be used to demonstrate mastery of material,” said Tara O’Neill, UT director of curriculum management and enrollment analytics, in the Wall Street Journal article.

Some studies, including one conducted in 2009 by Barbara Dodd and Linda Hargrove, former UT Department of Educational Psychology faculty members, conclude that although AP courses do not generally meet the same standards as college courses, students benefit greatly from taking them. According to the study, students who take AP courses and tests significantly outperform their non-AP peers in college.

“The findings indicate that even if an AP student who took the course and exam scores two out of a possible five points on an AP test — and most universities require at least a score of three — they still tend to do better in college than students who don’t take AP courses,” Hargrove said in the study.

Business honors sophomore, Pranidhi Dadhaniya, said she thinks the UT administration allows students to claim college credit through AP tests because students still learn a significant amount of information in AP high school courses.

“Even if college courses are harder than AP courses, students still get a good education from high school courses,” Dadhaniya said. “As long as students don’t claim credit for classes that are central to their major, I don’t see the problem with it.”

Mechanical engineering senior Steven Aviles said even though AP courses seem to be less rigorous, taking the AP test requires students to know a lot about a subject.

“Students have to take the AP test in order to get college credit,” Aviles said. “Since the test is made to assess a student’s knowledge of a subject on a college level, students deserve credit if they get a high enough score.”

Editor's Note: Some names have been omitted from this article since it was originally posted.