It's up to the faculty of each college and university to determine what a standardized score reflects within the standards of each institution, with what's best for student learning at the forefront of our focus.

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A recent Seattle Times editorial urged that “standardized tests should be paired with standardized credit” in regard to results produced through the Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) examinations taken by some high school students.

The editorial, “Fairness requires credit standards for AP and IB tests” [Aug. 15, Opinion], additionally suggests that there should be a statewide college and university standard for applying credit for the results of these tests.

Faculty hold the success of our students as a top priority; across our various fields, we need to ensure that any credit accepted in lieu of coursework will be held to the standards set by each discipline at each college and university, all of which have distinct identities and missions.  This results in academic expectations that are specific to each program, much as private and public colleges in other states have discrete degrees and curricula, all of which establish standards specific to each institution and degree.  And that is in large part how students select a college: by deciding in which program they think they will best learn and succeed.

Indeed, the state Legislature addressed the necessity of adaptable requirements when it enacted the 2018 law asking institutions of higher education in the state to establish policies for AP/IB credit relevant to each college or university, “with appropriate consideration of the institutions’ degree distribution requirements or curriculum for specific degree programs.”  This law provides that it will be university and college faculty who will determine whether a specific test score is equivalent to a particular course in support of the best outcomes for students. This assures that students are given the best opportunities for success in their education, from beginning to end.

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Universities nationwide have, over time, established degree programs unique to each campus.  To require faculty to award academic course credit for an exam score that is not equivalent to the actual coursework would violate our obligation to our students.  Each college, each department, and each curriculum has designed an educational path that offers best possible opportunities to our graduates, yet the same degree name includes different components at each college or university.

Some students will arrive at our colleges having demonstrated potential equivalency to college coursework through their AP and IB examination results, and our universities are working to make sure that students receive correct guidance on the meaning of their examination results, to conform with the new law.  But a standardized score does not translate into a standardized curriculum across this state, nor across the country.  Indeed, there are universities in other states that do not award credit for AP and IB examinations, but use them for the purposes of placement in higher-level college courses.

Again, it is up to the faculty of each college and university to determine what the standardized score reflects within the standards of each institution, with the best for student learning at the forefront of our focus.  Our ultimate goal is to ensure that the graduates of each institution earn degrees that meet the standards established, continually reviewed, and refined by university and college faculty.