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Missouri Debates Whether a 3 on an AP Exam Deserves Credit

May 5, 2022

A Missouri State Senate committee approved a bill that would require all public institutions to award college credit for any Advanced Placement exam on which an incoming student scores a 3 or higher, the News Tribune reported.

Students who take AP classes in high school typically end the year by taking subject exams, which are graded on a scale of 1 to 5. At many colleges, students who score a 4 or 5 are exempt from taking certain classes.

Currently in Missouri, every state institution sets its own rules about which scores it will accept, meaning that a student could get credit for the same high school AP course at one college but not at another. The new bill would create a uniform statewide standard and make it easier for students to apply high school credits to their college transcripts.

Representative Chris Brown, who sponsored the bill in the House—which passed it unanimously last month—urged the Senate committee to support the legislation.

“I think it’s good for children, it’s good for families, puts money in people’s pockets,” he said. “It’s not a huge change for the colleges.”

Critics argued that a score of 3 might not necessarily demonstrate mastery of the material.

“If these scores … encourage our children to go to college and try to get an education, great,” said State Senator Jill Schupp. “If they are giving our children a false impression about their skills and abilities to succeed and persist in college, then I’m not sure if they’re doing more harm than good.”

The University of Missouri system, which had opposed the bill during the House hearing, supported it in the Senate committee, saying it worked with Brown on the bill and many colleges were “moving toward 3s,” the News Tribune reported.

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Susan H. Greenberg

Susan H. Greenberg is a senior editor at Inside Higher Ed. A career journalist and educator, she joined the publication in August 2021 after eight years in Vermont, where she freelanced and taught writing at Middlebury College and Champlain College. Prior to that, she spent 22 years writing and editing for Newsweek magazine, where she covered everything from international affairs to arts and culture. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and River Teeth, among others. She has taught English and journalism at Phillips Academy, where she served as an advisor to the student newspaper. She holds a B.A. in English from Brown University and an M.S. in journalism from Columbia. The mother of three nearly adult children, she is very much enjoying her newly empty nest.

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