Missouri legislator seeking to standardize AP exam credits

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- If you take an Advanced Placement course, you can earn college credit for the course if you score a 3 or higher out of 5 on the end of year AP test.

That's true in Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas and Kentucky.

In Missouri, it depends.

Missouri universities can set their own score requirements for each course. So while a 3 on an AP government exam might get you credit at one school, you might need a 4 at another. Rep. Chris Brown, R-Kansas City, hopes to change that.

Brown is sponsoring House bill 1683, which would require Missouri public universities to accept a 3 for credit for all advanced placement courses. Brown taught advanced placement social studies courses for more than 30 years at the North Kansas City School District and said the different rules at different colleges were frustrating to him.

"It seems very arbitrary, it seems very random, and it's very hard to explain to a parent whose student worked very, very hard for an entire year, and they get a three, which is an exceedingly good grade on an AP test, why they're not getting college credit," Brown told the House Committee on Higher Education at a hearing in February.

According to the College Board, a 3 is a "qualifying" score.

Testimony from representatives for Most Policy Initiative pointed to a 2020 College Board study that found that students who test out of a course with an AP exam do the same or better in later courses than their peers who took the college course.

Many students took four main AP courses at his high school, Brown said, which would add up to a total of 12 credit hours in college. That's nearly a semester's worth of courses, which could equal $4,000-5,000 in tuition students could be saving, he said.

MU student Ella Pritchett testified that she earned a 3 on her AP government exam, but MU required a 4. This meant she had to retake the course in college, which she said will cost around $1,000 for tuition, course fees and textbooks.

Brown also thinks Missouri could be losing students to other states that will accept their scores.

Kurt Gates, a social studies teacher at Liberty North High School, testified before the committee that his students had initiated the legislative effort to change the scores colleges would accept. Gates said the bill would help students graduate in four years if passed.

The bill has been before the Legislature before, but COVID-19 "sidetracked it," Brown said in an interview. Brown said he had some pushback last time around, but he thinks he's done a better job communicating with people on the Senate side this year and hopes it will gain some traction there.

The University of Missouri spoke in opposition to the legislation but said it was not so much opposed as seeking improvement to the legislation.

Dusty Schnieders, of the University of Missouri System, said UM schools were concerned a student who scored a 3 on a AP biology exam might not be prepared for a pre-medical track. He suggested the bill be amended to leave out courses specific to one's major.

Rep. Kevin Windham, D-Hillsdale, asked Schnieders why score requirements differed between UM system schools like the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Schnieders said he couldn't answer the question at the time.

The Council on Public Higher Education testified in support but added Truman State University had similar concerns to the UM System.

Brown said he doesn't understand those concerns.

"I struggle with why they would want that. So what they're saying is, if they're a freshman, and they take biology at that particular university, whatever it may be, and they get a C in that as a freshman, does that not qualify as a passing score? I just don't understand that argument or that concern," Brown said in an interview.

Brown said he expects his bill to come before the Senate Education Committee in two weeks.

HB 1683: Advanced Placement exam credit


Sponsor: Rep. Chris Brown