A year ago, the UNC System standardized the awarding of college credit for Advancement Placement test scores at all 16 of North Carolina's public universities. Good news for those of you enrolled in International Baccalaureate or Cambridge International programs: You're getting the same deal.
The UNC Board of Governors at its meeting last week (when members weren't scolding one of their colleagues) expanded its year-old policy on AP credit to include IB and Cambridge test scores. The policy that mandates college credit for AP scores of 3 or better took effect in the fall. The expanded policy that includes IB and Cambridge starts for students entering college in fall 2020.
A UNC System spokesman said the revised regulation is still working its way through the bureaucracy, but it looks like the new credit-granting standard will be 5 or higher on Standard Level IB exams, 4 or better on Higher Level IB exams and a C or higher for Cambridge AS-Level and A-Level exams.
This latest action follows what the BOG did a year ago when it approved a new policy that required all UNC System schools to award academic credit for AP scores of 3 or better. AP scores range from 1 to 5; 3 is considered passing (or "qualified," according to College Board, which runs the program).
The problem in the eyes of the BOG was that the prior policy was inconsistent. If the state of North Carolina pays for these exams to the tune of $12 million a year, why should students get credit at some state universities and not others? The UNC System estimates that incoming freshmen lose about 14,000 college courses worth of credit annually because some UNC schools and departments ignored 3s on AP exams.
But AP isn't the only college-credit game in town, which is why the BOG expanded its year-old policy. There's IB, a Swiss program, and there's Cambridge out of England. Both programs offer an elementary-through-high school curriculum at schools around the world, and high school students in both programs take year-end subject exams that can yield college credit for high schools. Neither program is as widespread in North Carolina as AP, but IB is more popular here than Cambridge. Thirty-three N.C. high schools, including four in Guilford County, offer IB. Only three N.C. high schools, all in the Charlotte area, have the Cambridge program.
For more reading, here's the new UNC System policy on Awarding Undergraduate Credit on the Basis of Advanced Course Examination Scores (scroll down to page 4) and an FAQ on how the AP credit policy is supposed to work. And good luck on all your AP, IB and Cambridge exams.