The California State Assembly passed a bill Wednesday to ensure that community colleges in the state award class credit to students who pass their Advanced Placement (AP) exams with a minimum score of three out of five.

Das Williams explains IV's history of self-governance

Assemblymember Das Williams authored a bill to standardize college credit for AP courses. Daily Nexus file photo

“Most students are not aware that different college districts have different AP credit policies,” Assemblymember Das Williams, author of the bill, said while speaking before the Assembly on Monday.

The College Board states on their website that students who earn a score of three or above are “qualified” for the subject in which they are tested.
Forty of California’s 113 community colleges, however, do not grant credit to students who earn a score of three on their AP tests, according to the College Board.

Twenty-four of the 40 colleges require minimum scores of four, and six colleges require a score of five, which is the highest score possible for any AP exam. The remaining 10 community colleges have no existing policies for awarding credit to AP students.

Williams said the varying AP credit policies in California community colleges are problematic because students might have to retake introductory courses for subjects in which they are already competent.

“In an era of tuition increases, impacted classrooms and lengthy time to transfer in degree, this is truly unnecessary,” Williams said.

Williams introduced Assembly Bill 1985 (AB 1985) in February, a bill that would require two administrative bodies — the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges — to award credit to students who score a three or higher on AP exams.

Williams said this resolution would create a “uniform policy” to streamline the AP credit process for California community colleges.

If the bill allows students to replace college courses with AP credit, Williams said it will increase access for popular classes, allow students to graduate more quickly and make community college more affordable.

Assemblymember Donald Wagner from Orange County, however, said he finds there to be “an unfortunate side effect” in the “well-intended” bill.

Wagner, in the Assembly floor session on Monday, said the bill “intrudes” upon the concept of academic freedom. He said lawmakers ought to respect the varying policies of community colleges as to what constitutes a suitable AP score for earning college credit.

“Historically in our country we’ve recognized the importance of academic freedom, meaning the right of the professors to decide for themselves,” Wagner said.

Despite these objections, though, AB 1985 passed in the Assembly by a 73-2 vote. Wagner and another assemblymember from Orange County, Matthew Harper, were the only two to vote against the bill.

AB 1985 will now go to the California State Senate, where legislators will continue to review the bill in subsequent committee hearings.

A version of this story appeared on p. 5 of the Thursday, May 26, 2016, edition of the Daily Nexus  with the headline Bill: CCs Must Accept AP Credit for Score of 3/