Virginia Mandates Review of AP, IB, CLEP, and Cambridge Examination Course Credit

As a result of legislation passed by the General Assembly, all public higher education institutions in the Commonwealth have been directed to review and revise (as needed) their policies 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. We are required to report the results of these reviews to SCHEV once they are completed. 

All departments and colleges were notified last week of the need to conduct these reviews. SCHEV outlines the requirements in a memo sent to institutions in late March. The memo stated, in part, that “each public institution is directed to review AP, Cambridge, CLEP, and IB exams in comparison to its course offerings and curricular requirements to determine the proper grant of credit for each level of performance at or above the minima specified:

  1. (3) or higher on an Advanced Placement examination
  2. (4) or higher on a higher level International Baccalaureate examination
  3. (5) or higher on a standard level International Baccalaureate examination
  4. (50) or higher on a CLEP examination
  5. (C) or higher on a Cambridge Advanced examination (A/AS).”

The main tasks for departments is to determine the amount of course credit to be awarded for each examination result and to further decide whether there will be a course equivalent attached to a particular test result of if the credit awarded is just “general elective” credit.

There is relatively little work to do on AP tests since UMW departments current award credit for scores of 3 or better. (Of course, if there is good reason to make any changes on AP course equivalencies departments should do so.) On the IB tests, though, significant work is needed. UMW currently awards credit on the higher level exams only and requires a minimum score of 5. Departments will need to determine what credit to award for a score of 4 on the higher level tests and will also need to evaluate the standard level tests and make determinations for credit to be awarded at a score of 5 and above.

When the Virginia General Assembly enacted the change to the Code of Virginia (§23-9.2:3.10) that led to SCHEV’s directive, one stated purpose for the action was to “maximize” students’ ability to earn college credit consistent with institutions’ academic standards. The legislation also expressed a desire to contribute to lower costs for Virginia families by enhancing students’ ability to complete a degree in a timely manner. The legislation additionally posited that an improved college transfer environment will result when institutions reevaluate and make changes to the credit awarded for AP, IB, CLEP, and Cambridge examinations.

As all programs participate in these reviews, three important points should be kept in mind. First, SCHEV stressed that institutions are not required to award credit for examinations in subjects that the institution does not offer (although they are free to do so if it is determined that such credit awards were appropriate). Second, SCHEV stressed that “the faculty shall have responsibility for specifying all curricular equivalencies for each level of performance on each assessment.” And thirdly, SCHEV emphasized that “each institution’s policies must be framed in terms of its particular curriculum, academic standards, student profile, and student success patterns.  These are complex matters that must be judged holistically by subject matter experts and knowledgeable academic administrators at each institution.”

While SCHEV did not announce a formal deadline for getting this work done, they did stress that the patron of the legislation was looking for action sooner rather than later. Ideally, each institution might be in a position to make some changes that address the directives in SCHEV’s memo in time to be implemented for the fall 2016 semester. SCHEV also noted that it was hopeful that institutions would conclude their work in time for all changes to be in effect at the start of the fall 2017 semester.

If you have any questions about this project, please direct them to John Morello, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, who is serving as the main contact person for assembling our response to SCHEV.




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