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Learning and Understanding: Improving Advanced Study of Mathematics and Science in U.S. High Schools
College Credit and Placement Based on Advanced Study
The College Board and the IBO do not award credit or mandate specific placements, although both provide some guidance about appropriate practice. Thus individual colleges and universities (or departments within them) decide whether to award credit for AP and IB examination scores they regard as sufficiently high.
More than 2,900 colleges and universities accept AP test scores, and approximately 750 postsecondary institutions recognize IB scores. IB students traditionally have more difficulty than their AP counterparts obtaining college credit or placement for their scores. This situation is changing somewhat as colleges become more familiar with IB course content and requirements and gain more experience with IB students. However, because of the lingering reluctance of some schools to grant credit or placement for IB, some IB students also take AP assessments. This is a challenging undertaking for IB students because both sets of examinations are administered in May, and the dates may overlap.
Reducing Time to Degree
One of the factors contributing to the rapid increase in AP and IB enrollments is the perceived potential benefit of earning inexpensive college credits that can reduce time to degree and consequently decrease overall tuition costs.31 The extent to which students actually take advantage of this opportunity for acceleration in college and the resulting savings in tuition, is not well documented, however. Some students spend the same amount of time as other undergraduates, using these credits instead to reduce overall course loads, to pursue coursework that their schedules would not otherwise allow, or to take additional courses in a subject area.
Using AP and IB for Placement or Exemption from Required Courses
As noted above, in addition to being able to graduate early, students can use their AP and IB credits to reduce overall course loads or to meet college prerequisite or distribution requirements, freeing time in their schedules to
Approximately 1,400 institutions offer sophomore standing to students with sufficient AP credit (College Board, http://www.collegeboard.org/ap/students/benefits/soph_standing.html [November 27, 2001]). Increasing numbers of colleges (for example, state universities in California, Florida, and Washington) are awarding credit and sophomore standing to IB students with IB diplomas.