More Illinois students could receive college credit for their scores on College Board Advanced Placement exams under a bill Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law this week.
The law requires public universities and colleges to give college credit to students who receive scores of three or better on a five-point scale on the exams administered at the end of their AP classes. Current score acceptance policies vary by school and, in some cases, department.
Local and College Board officials said the new legislation is a welcome change for some school administrators at a time when many school districts are increasing their AP offerings.
Crystal Lake-based Community High School District 155 administered 2,960 AP exams in the 2014-15 school year, Superintendent Johnnie Thomas said. He said 2,236 – about 75 percent – of those exams received scores of three or higher.
“We worked really hard for our students to be ready for college,” Thomas said. “A three, according to the research, represents that they are ready.”
More than 20 percent of seniors in most McHenry County school districts took an AP exam in 2013, according to the latest data from the Illinois State Board of Education. Of that same graduating class, most districts reported more than 10 percent received a score of three or higher.
Accepted scores currently vary by college or university, and in some cases within departments. For instance, a student applying to McHenry County College would need to score a four or higher to receive credit in political science, but would need only a three or higher to receive credit for the same subject at Northern Illinois University, based on their respective credit catalogs.
Some leaders questioned whether the bill would reduce the amount of tuition public education institutions receive because it allows students to bypass costs associated with earning those credits. Proponents, however, touted the law as a means to help students graduate on time.
The law leaves it up to college officials to determine whether the exam credit should be applied to electives, general education requirements or major requirements when it is implemented in the 2016-17 school year.