Book by: Johnstone, D. Bruce and Beth Del Genio.
Review by: Vanetta B. Bratcher
Assistant Director of STEP, Center for Student Support Services
Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion (IN)

What is at stake today when high school students want to earn college credit through an Advanced Placement (AP) Program or dual enrollment course?  How do different universities treat the credits for college-level learning (CLLHS) earned by students still in high school? Who has the right to determine what is most important when assessing these issues? In this text, authors Johnstone and Del Genio present the conclusions they drew from the results of a nation-wide survey of the issues surrounding CLLHS.

The authors identify three types of CLLHS programs, (a) examination-based [AP Program], (b) school-based, and (c) college-based, as they establish a comprehensive primer to the merits and criticisms of each type. Educators seeking basics for measuring validity, consistency, and value in CLLHS will find useful the discussion of policy and practice that impacts all CLLHS stakeholders: individual students, their families, and institutions within secondary and higher education (viii).

Chapter V provides research analysis of data provided by academic affairs personnel at 451 colleges and universities surveyed in 1998-99. The authors further delineated results based on institutional admissions selectivity and degree-granting characteristics. This clearly illustrates the differences students find when attempting to transfer CLLHS credits to varied institutions.

Helpful to both advisors and academic officers, is the clear (not to be confused with simple) discussion regarding institutional philosophy, management of student CLLHS credits, and the authors’ rational criticism of CLLHS programs. One such debate centered on whether college-based courses taught to high school students on a college campus are better than school-based college credit courses taught to high school students by their high school teacher. The latter of which is often favored by students and parents seeking help with the inarguable increasing costs and competitive nature of college.

Drawing on over fifty years of educational writing, the authors offer valuable perspective based upon the insights they gained from five studies about CLLHS between 1998 and 2001. They use these insights to further discuss issues surrounding curriculum and grading assessment, diversity of CLLHS institutional policy and practice, and arguments for “college experience” beyond content mastery. Finally, the authors provide an extensive bibliography to assist those looking for further resources.

I believe one of the best features of the text was its clear definition of the CLLHS “stakeholders” and how their seemingly contradictory positions simultaneously hold merit. Due to the thoroughness of this text, I can better consider the issues surrounding CLLHS and am prepared for campus discussions with students and colleagues.



College-Level Learning in High School: Purposes, Policies, and Practical Implications. (2001). Book by Johnstone, D. Bruce and Beth Del Genio. Review by Vanetta B. Bratcher. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities. 70 pp. $12.00 (paperback). ISBN 0-911696-85-7.

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