Proposed bill secures college credit for AP classes

Legislation was recently introduced in the Illinois General Assembly to make Illinois the  15th state to require its public colleges to award college credit for an Advanced Placement (AP) exam score of a 3, 4 or 5. Created by government teacher Andrew Conneen, the house bill’s motto is “Earn it, get it. Pass HB 3428.” The AP bill  recently passed on the committee floor and is now headed to the House of Representatives.

Currently, universities create their own standards for what AP credits they choose to accept. For example, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will accept a 4 on the AP Calculus BC exam and provide 5 hours, whereas Southern Illinois University will  accept a 3 for the same course and award 10 hours. While the state government cannot enforce the proposed reform on private institutions such as University of Chicago or Northwesern University, public universities are under the state government’s control.

Within the Stevenson community, Statesman feels that AP classes are seen more as a way to increase a student’s chance of getting into college rather than as an opportunity to take an advanced college level course in high school. A college education differs significantly from a high school education, for which reason, the credit is not always evenly transferred.

Statesman believes that taking a class at the age of sixteen does not translate to earning college undergraduate credit in all cases of a 3, 4 or 5. However, if a student can prove a solid understanding of the information, then there is reason to consider providing credit.

Nonetheless, there is a difference between renting information and owning it. AP courses build a solid foundation of a course’s material, but not enough to get out of the credit with a 3 on the AP exam. For example, to receive a passing score on many AP exams, a score of about 60% is needed to achieve this score. Statesman does not feel that this is an adequate accuracy level to consider one worthy of college credit in all cases.

Furthermore, not all high schools offer as much AP credit as Stevenson does, creating even more inequalities within the public education system.

On the other hand, not providing credit at all discredits the AP program as a whole. Statesman feels that the best way to approach this is to provide recognition for passing AP scores through elective credit.

Statesman does not believe that major-specific credit should be provided based on a course taken in high school because it may not be as in-depth as the college’s program will expect it to be. Additionally, universities should provide some equivalent credit because a significant amount of students are taking out hundreds upon thousands of dollars in students loans in order to pay for school, making higher education even less appealing.

Ultimately, every university offers different programs with unique education styles. For this reason, each university should reward college credit in the case of a score of 3, 4 or 5, but decide how credit should be awarded.

Statesman believes that placement testing is the best way to reinforce what class students belong in, and that elective credit is the most fair way to recognize passing AP scores, as college classes vary too much to be converted into a 5-point scale.