Assemblymember Das Williams recently introduced Assembly Bill 1985, which would establish a uniform policy for Advance Placement (AP) credit transfer from high schools to all California Community Colleges.
AB 1985 aims to increase student accessibility to higher education by decreasing obstacles for students with financial hardships at community colleges. The goal of the proposal is to make transitioning to a four-year university more feasible for students. The bill would allow for the application of AP credit to college units at community colleges throughout California.
According to Williams, the bill will save low-income students time and money by transferring college credits from AP exams to community college.
“AB 1985 not only builds a uniform policy to improve students’ time to degree and transfer, ultimately saving tuition costs for students and their families, but it will also prevent discrepancies on AP scores between CCCs,” Williams said in a news release.
According to Lourdes Jimenez, Williams’ chief of staff, there are currently 24 community colleges that require an AP score of 4 for college credit, six community colleges that require a score of 5 and 10 community colleges that have no policies, out of the 113 California Community Colleges.
“This inconsistency creates confusion and is an unnecessary barrier to students entering the community colleges in our state who have earned college credit,” Jimenez said. “Assemblymember William believes it’s important to have uniform policies that are clear to students.”
Jimenez said the office has communicated with administration and officials from the UC, California State University and College Board to maintain the students’ interest when implementing the bill.
“We have focused on making sure this bill does not affect the work that has already been achieved by the college segments dealing with transferability to make sure a student’s transition in and out of college happens sooner,” Jimenez said.
Luz Reyes-Martin, Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) public information officer, said she supports the bill because there is currently no standardized policy for awarding AP credits across all community colleges.
“I think what is very positive about the assemblyman’s proposed bill is that it would create a uniform policy across the 113 California Community Colleges,” Reyes-Martin said. “It’s part of our mission to facilitate and support students who want to transfer on to a UC or another four-year university.”
According to Reyes-Martin, SBCC currently has its own comprehensive AP credit transfer system in which students are awarded general education units for passing an exam with a score of 3 or higher.
“We have a very good relationship with the assemblymember and his office, so we are definitely looking forward to talking with them and … helping give them any advice or any best practices to offer with that policy,” Reyes-Martin said. “We’ll definitely be looking at the bill and checking it to see how it will affect our existing system.”
According to Spencer Barr, Santa Barbara High School college and career counselor, close to 50 percent of Santa Barbara High School’s senior class enroll at SBCC for community college.
“Out of those students, we don’t have a ton of them that are taking multiple AP classes,” Barr said. “It’s usually a couple of classes, maybe as many as four classes that students are trying to get credits for.”
Barr said although SBCC offers students in Santa Barbara two years of free tuition, he supports the plan to alleviate the financial challenges of all students attending community college.
“[SBCC] has just introduced a new plan where any local high school student in Santa Barbara, assuming you graduated from a local high school, can go to SBCC completely free for two full years,” Barr said. “That financial hardship is not as much of a financial hardship anymore because everything is paid for.”
Barr said he supports a uniform AP credit system across all community colleges because it would decrease the time required for students to transfer into a four-year university.
“It would be great if there is a standardized platform for the California Community Colleges in terms of accepting credits,” Barr said. “That would speed up the transfer process for any students who are looking to go that road with two years at community college and transferring to a four-year university.”