College & Workforce Readiness

Q&A: A President’s View on Pre-College Credit

By Caralee J. Adams — December 09, 2014 3 min read
Miami University President David C. Hodge in his office at the university’s Oxford, Ohio, campus, where policies for granting AP credit have become more uniform.
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In Ohio, a 2007 law required the state board of regents to develop a consistent policy for awarding Advanced Placement credit by 2009. Now, all public institutions in the state must grant credit toward a degree for an AP exam score of 3 or higher. Research in Ohio has shown that students persist in subsequent courses after getting credit for an AP score of at least 3 out of a possible 5.

Contributing Writer Caralee J. Adams spoke about the policy changes with David C. Hodge, the president of Miami University, of Oxford, Ohio. Since 2006, he has been at the helm of the 16,000-student public university. More than half of this year’s incoming freshman class received credit through dual-enrollment, AP, or International Baccalaureate programs.

How does your university view the value of taking college-level courses in high school, such as AP, IB, and dual enrollment?

We have a very positive attitude about that. … In our recruiting, we seek academically ambitious students. So we, generally speaking, are very, very supportive of the notion that students have these opportunities in high school. They are very useful to set them up for success.

What was your policy toward AP credit before the law passed?

It varied department by department. … There was credit for 5s, 4s, and 3s, placement versus not. … All things being equal, we would prefer a 4, but a 3 has not proven to be difficult, except in certain areas.

The average Miami University student enters with 17 credits from accelerated work in high school. How has that changed since the new mandate went into effect?

The numbers have been going up. The reason, you can argue, is that there is more availability of all these options. Plus, Miami has become more selective over that period of time, so you are seeing … that we are more likely to get students who are taking [accelerated work].

And are they more likely to graduate earlier then?

For students who come in with AP credits, or any credit, the four-year graduation rate is 75 percent. For those who don’t, it is 63 percent. … The kind of students we attract are taking double majors or adding a minor. … The students are not necessarily trying to finish faster than four years, but they are trying to finish in four years with a lot more stuff.

How important is it for students to receive the full four-year college experience?

We are an institution that’s built to maximize the four-year experience. We have no problem if a student is done and they are ready to go on—let’s go. What we are trying do is not just look at: Are they ready for their first job or can they get into graduate school or professional school? We are conscious of trying to say: Build a foundation for people who are going to have superior careers and superior lives. This is about the intensity of the experience to create that kind of a graduate.

There are those who would say the reluctance to get through quicker is a way to protect the revenues coming into the university. Is that part of it? Do you want the four years of tuition as well?

Well, it doesn’t hurt. To be honest with you, no, that’s not really what we are about. We have an overarching goal in our strategic plan to promote a vibrant learning and discovery environment that produces extraordinary student and scholarly outcomes. … Every day, we ask the question: How can we be a better institution? How can we produce graduates who are better prepared for a lifetime?

Was there pushback when you changed your AP policy?

There was a little pushback at the beginning, but it disappeared quickly because actually [the policy change] didn’t have that much impact.

So is the bottom line that faculty in Ohio feel that what is being taught in the high school as “college-level” courses are the same quality as what is taught on your campus?

We are proud enough to think that the courses we offer here—because of the whole environment—they are going to be be more challenging. I would also say that the courses we are seeing as the students come out of high school and through AP are more than adequate.

Special coverage on the alignment between K-12 schools and postsecondary education is supported in part by a grant from the Lumina Foundation, at www.luminafoundation.org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.
A version of this article appeared in the December 10, 2014 edition of Education Week as Q&A: An Ivory Tower View on Precollege Credit

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