Academic journal article Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council

AP, Dual Enrollment, and the Survival of Honors Education

Academic journal article Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council

AP, Dual Enrollment, and the Survival of Honors Education

Article excerpt

At the NCHC annual conferences, in publications, and on the discussion list, honors educators frequently compare admissions criteria for individual programs and colleges, including minimum ACT and SAT scores, high school coursework and GPAs, and AP and IB credits and scores. In light of the seismic issues NCHC has faced over the past two decades--significant restructuring of governance, establishment of a central office, the accreditation debate--matters of admissions criteria and freshmen with incoming credits seem mundane, but a new admissions crisis has begun to emerge in the honors community. In an increasing number of states, legislatures are mandating uniform minimum AP and dual enrollment credits that public colleges and universities must accept, and consequently the honors students we have admitted based in part on their willingness to take on challenging coursework such as AP classes are now struggling to find enough liberal-arts-based honors electives to complete an honors program.

Neither parents nor state legislatures want to continue paying the ever-escalating costs of higher education, so fast-tracking students through a bachelor's degree program in three years has become particularly attractive. Reports of freshmen coming into public institutions with 30-60 credit hours are becoming more frequent. The intensely competitive twenty-first-century high school recruitment process readily exploits parents' tuition fears by hard-selling AP and IB programs and dual enrollment, touting their "Best High School" rankings in U.S. News & World Report. For example, I learned from students in my fall 2014 and fall 2015 Honors Composition courses that one local high school is now paying students $100 per test for simply taking each of the four core AP tests, regardless of score, and thus improving the school's "tests taken" rating. The students confessed that they were not as concerned about their scores as they were about getting paid $400. In turn, the schools claim that they will not only rigorously prepare students for their schools of choice but also save parents a great deal of money along the way.

The legislative movement toward reducing tuition costs through fast-tracking accelerated markedly in 2015, when states such as Virginia, Texas, and Illinois enacted key pieces of legislation in rapid-fire succession. According to the Education Commission of the States (ECS) website, which serves as a database for education initiatives in the U.S., the dates, titles, and summaries of these laws are as follows:

Virginia, March 23, 2015--Uniform Policy for Granting Undergraduate Credit for AP, A/AS, IB, and CLEP Examinations (H.B. 1336)

Requires the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), in
consultation with the governing board of each public institution of
higher education, to establish a uniform policy for granting
undergraduate course credit to entering freshman students who have
taken one or more Advanced Placement, Cambridge Advanced (A/AS),
College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), or International
Baccalaureate examinations. ("State Legislation: High School-Advanced

Texas, May 23, 2015--Prohibiting Limits on Number of Dual Credit Courses/Hours a Public High School Student May Enroll In (H.B. 505)

Prohibits regulation from limiting the number of dual credit courses or
hours a student may enroll in each semester or academic year (or while
in high school), or limiting the grade levels at which a high school
student may be eligible to enroll in a dual credit course. Repeals
statutory provision that limited a student from enrolling in more than
three courses at a junior college if the student's high school is
outside the junior college's service district. ("State Legislation:
High School-Dual/Concurrent Enrollment")

Texas, June 3, 2015--Minimum AP Score for Postsecondary Course Credit (H.B. 1992)

Prohibits an institution of higher education from requiring an Advanced
Placement (AP) exam score above 3 for granting lower-division course
credit unless the institution's chief academic officer determines,
based on evidence, that a higher score on the exam is necessary to
indicate a student is sufficiently prepared to be successful in a more
advanced course for which the lower-division course is a prerequisite. … 
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.