California AP Students and Educators Fight for a Uniform AP Credit Policy
California AP Students and Educators Fight for a Uniform AP Credit PolicyMaria Eugenia Alcón-Heraux, Director, Communications
In California, most colleges and universities award college credit for Advanced Placement scores of 3 or higher. While the California State University System (made up of 23 campuses) has a uniform policy of awarding credit for AP scores of 3 and higher, the California Community College System of 113 colleges lacks a system-wide approach. Each California Community College has its own individual AP credit policy — for example, 24 community colleges require scores of 4 for credit, 6 community colleges require a score of 5 for credit, and 10 community colleges have no AP credit policies at all.
On April 19, at the Assembly Higher Education Committee hearing at the California State Capitol, educators and students lined up to support of AB1985, a bill introduced by Assembly member Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) that would require California Community Colleges to develop and adopt a uniform policy of awarding general education course credits for AP exam scores of 3 or higher.
“While all the University of California and California State University will accept a 3 for credit, in community colleges that is not the case,” explained Assembly member Williams at the hearing. “We find this to be a bait and switch for our students who are doing the hard work.”
Rachel Lewis, an AP English teacher from Western Sierra Collegiate Academy in Rocklin, CA, testified in support of the bill. Her high school has had an inclusive AP program for the past 3 years, and every single junior takes AP English.
Ms. Lewis told the Committee members how students every year who did well on the AP English exam would come back to tell her how well prepared they felt for the English curriculum of their community colleges, state colleges, and private colleges. “I want my students to benefit from the full fruit of their labors and know their efforts are recognized and meaningful,” she said. When not awarded college credit, she continued, “students who look at the AP test as a financial investment into their future are punished for their thoughtful planning. It is especially unfair to students who are already struggling to pay for college and are now essentially asked to pay for the same class twice.”
Her powerful testimony was followed by the testimony of Western Sierra Collegiate Academy AP Literature and AP History student Hannah Blackmore.
Low-income students, Blackmore explained, “usually turn to community colleges and the AP system as our last hope to getting a college.”
After the testimonies, more students, educators, and civil justice advocates lined up in front of a microphone to express additional support for the bill.
Pam Kerouac, Senior Director of AP Higher Ed Policy at the College Board, who deferred her testimony to an AP teacher and student, said she was inspired by what she witnessed.
“Watching restless legislators, after a long day, stop fidgeting and listen to each student was spectacular,” Ms. Kerouac said. “It was obvious they were not willing to stand by and let the inconsistent AP credit policy toss-up game continue affecting who gets college credit and who does not.”
The bill was passed unanimously out of the Assembly Higher Education Committee.
“We swept the vote count 13-0 in support,” said Ken Woods, Executive Director of Higher Education in California for the College Board, who also deferred his testimony at the hearing. “I have always been proud of working for the College Board, but in my 20 plus years, this was the highlight — we accomplished something that will impact so many students in California.”
After clearing the Assembly, the bill will be heard in the Senate.
“There is no one better to speak truth to power than classroom teachers and their students,” said Julie Harris-Lawrence, said Executive Director of Teacher Outreach and Advocacy for the College Board. "We look forward to bringing the voices of AP educators and students to the California State Senate."