AP tests have been around for quite some time, so you’d think there might be some consistency by now about how they’re used to allow students to validate college classes. In Illinois the concerns about consistency are both academic and financial:
A proposed change to state law that has advanced in Springfield could expand high school students’ access to college credit through AP testing — but could also have a financial impact on state colleges and universities in Illinois, which could lose out on tuition revenue.
The AP testing program awards students whose knowledge has surpassed the high school level, and can save them time and money in college because they don’t have to pay to take the equivalent courses.
But college standards for granting credit for AP tests vary widely. The tests are scored on a 5-point scale, but while some colleges and universities will award credit for scores as low as 2, others require the top score of 5 in certain subjects, according to the College Board, which administers the program. At some schools, the standards vary by subject, while the University of Illinois has different thresholds for different campuses.
To standardize the criteria, lawmakers are considering passing a law to require public universities and colleges in Illinois to give course credit for scores of 3 or better…
Last year in Illinois, nearly 116,000 AP tests were awarded scores of 3 or better, according to a coalition backing the legislation that includes state education groups and the College Board. At an average cost of $426 per credit hour, that would add up to $148 million in savings overall, proponents say.
AP credit could cost colleges and universities lost tuition from those students who can skip over classes, but officials say many AP students simply take other classes instead, to add depth or breadth to their education. Or they can use the lightened course load to improve their chances of graduating on time.