Concerned that Advanced Placement courses are not as rigorous as college courses, Dartmouth has announced that it will no longer give college credits for good A.P. scores, starting with the class of 2018.
Elite institutions like Dartmouth have long discussed how to handle the growing number of freshmen seeking credit for top scores on A.P. or International Baccalaureate exams. Dartmouth changed its policy after an experiment measuring whether top A.P. scores indicated college-level competence.
"The psychology department got more and more suspicious about how good an indicator a 5 on the A.P. psych exam was for academic success," said Hakan Tell, a classics professor who heads Dartmouth's Committee on Instruction, so the department decided to give a condensed version of the Psych 1 final to incoming students instead of giving them credits.
Of more than 100 students who had scored a 5 on the A.P. exam, 90 percent failed the Dartmouth test. The other 10 percent were given Dartmouth credit.
A follow-up effort produced even worse results, Professor Tell said. "We looked at the students who failed our on-campus exam but decided to enroll in Psych 1, to see whether they did any better than students who had never taken the Advanced Placement class, and we couldn't detect any difference whatsoever," he said.
The College Board, which administers the A.P. program, said it found the Dartmouth results hard to credit.
"It's very difficult to believe that 90 percent of students with a 5 on their A.P. would flunk a test on an introductory course," said Trevor Packer, the College Board official in charge of the A.P. program. "We have research, including Dartmouth students who got a 5 on their psychology A.P., showing that they did better than students without that A.P."
Mr. Packer said he believed Dartmouth had an obligation to share details of the experiment.education
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.