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Trinity College should continue awarding AP credit

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This spring, Trinity College’s Arts and Sciences Council will vote on proposed curriculum changes. Among those potential changes is that Trinity would no longer count Advanced Placement (AP) credit toward students’ graduation requirements.

Eliminating AP credit would be a major mistake. Were this change to go into effect, it would hurt Trinity students, especially low-income and underrepresented students. It would also harm Duke’s ability to recruit such students in the future. The Imagining Duke Curriculum committee should remove this alteration of Trinity’s AP credit policy from their proposal.

I’m a Duke alumna. And—full disclosure—I now work at the College Board, collaborating with teachers and college professors to develop AP course frameworks and teacher support materials. I get to see firsthand how the AP Exams are developed over years of deliberation, and I’m involved in the meticulous effort that goes into ensuring that these exams accurately reflect students’ mastery of college-level academic material.

But before I worked for AP, I was a classroom teacher, and long before that I was an AP student myself. I can remember vividly how hard I worked for my AP credit—college credit that I earned and that I deserved. After all those hours of intense study, I would not have been pleased to enroll at a college that discounted my effort by not accepting AP credit.

And I’m sure most students today feel the same. The College Board surveyed tens of thousands of students this year after they took AP Exams, and 73 percent of them told us they definitely considered colleges’ AP credit policies when making their college enrollment decisions. Nearly half said they’d be less likely to even apply to a college that didn’t accept AP credit. And almost 60 percent said that AP credit was important for helping them manage college costs.

The students who are most likely to benefit from AP credit are high-achieving low-income and underrepresented students—precisely the students that Duke should be trying to attract. Yet were it to eliminate AP credit, Trinity would do the opposite—it would make it more difficult for these students to pay for college, and decrease the likelihood that they would even apply to Duke in the first place.

And were Trinity to eliminate AP credit, it would also be out of step with a number of institutions like Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Stanford, all of which grant credit or advanced standing for AP.

 Students who earn qualifying AP Exam scores have demonstrated—on a challenging, internationally standardized exam—that they have mastered introductory college-level academic material. Trinity students who earned AP credit worked hard for it, and future Trinity students deserve to have their own hard work acknowledged and rewarded.

Dana Tyree Kopelman (Trinity ’02) is a senior director for AP Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment.

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