New standards for new students

Uniform AP score acceptance standards set for California Community Colleges

On September 23, 2016 a bill was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown that will overhaul the California Community College system’s acceptance of credit students receive from Advanced Placement Exams.

The bill, AB 1985, was introduced by California state assemblyman Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara). It aims to create a uniform system across all community colleges in California, allowing students who receive a passing score of three or better on an Advanced Placement exam to apply it as credit for a college-level class.

“Most students are not even aware that community colleges have different AP credit policies,” Williams said in an interview with “Why some colleges require a score of four and others require a score of five serves no function other than having students take a course they might not need to take.”

Previously, it was up to the discretion of the college to decide what the minimum test score to receive credit for an Advanced Placement class was. According to the College Board, up to 24 colleges around California had a threshold of four, and six had a required score of five to receive credit. AB 1985 will require all colleges to conform to a standard of three, which is also the standard adopted by the California State University system.

“I think [the bill] is great,” said Katherine O’Toole, a Skyline student who took an Advanced Placement class and subsequent test in high school. “If a three is considered passing [by the College Board, who administers the tests then that score should be accepted everywhere.”

The move to create a standard for Advanced Placement acceptance by the state will not directly impact Skyline College or the San Mateo County Community College District, as the current standard is already a three or higher. According to Williams, the bill aims to improve transfer time, reduce class sizes, and decrease the overall cost of getting a degree.

The bill will come with a cost to taxpayers at an amount not yet specified because the new law is just beginning to take effect. Any expenses incurred by a school or school district in order to comply with the new law will be reimbursed by the state.

Both the UC and CSU systems currently recognize AP exams for certain sections of the IGETC, which is the current system used for transfer from community colleges. Standardizing the score needed to get credit for each of the schools allows students to not only save money on community college more easily, but those savings also pass on to a selected institution for transfer.

Overall, while the bill is mostly aimed towards high school students looking at community college, it is still beneficial for students looking to transfer to a four-year college.

The bill passed the California state assembly in May will likely move to the Senate soon, and if passed, will likely be instated for the 2017-2018 school year.