A bill that would require Missouri colleges to accept scores of 3 or higher out of 5 on Advanced Placement exams cleared a state Senate committee Tuesday as the end of session loomed.
House Bill 1683, sponsored by Rep. Chris Brown, R-Kansas City, has come up for a few years in the Legislature, but never made it across the finish line.
Students who take AP courses in high school take an end-of-year test and are scored on a one to five basis to determine their eligibility for college credit. Currently, each post-secondary institution in Missouri sets its own guidelines for what AP exam scores it will accept. This means a student may be able to get college credit for an AP course they took in high school at one college but not another. Colleges can also set different score requirements for each course, meaning the same score may work for one class but not another.
For example, Brown told the committee, Missouri Southern State University, Missouri Western State University and Southeast Missouri State University accept a score of 3 or higher for every AP course. However, the University of Central Missouri has three freshman classes where 3s are not accepted, Northwest Missouri State has nine, UMKC has eight, and the University of Missouri has 19.
The bill passed the House unanimously two weeks ago.
Brown urged the committee to support the bill, framing it as a "winner."
"I do know when I go back and I talk to my constituents, I want to talk about positives," Brown said. "I want to say, 'Here's what we did to help you.' This bill's a winner for that.
"I think it's good for children, it's good for families, puts money in people's pockets," Brown added. "It's not a huge change for the colleges."
Schupp said she was concerned students who scored a 3 might not be prepared for the next courses and said she had tried to speak about her concerns with the bill in a virtual meeting with Brown last year, but he didn't show up.
Brown said he didn't recall what happened in that situation but he did think students who scored a 3 would be fine. Brown said he did not have any data to support that point.
However, during the House hearing on the same bill, representatives of MOST Policy Initiative cited a statistic from research by the College Board stated students who score a 3 on their exam do as well or better in later courses than their counterparts who take the introductory course in college.
Schupp shared some data that suggested otherwise. The UMKC data came from a previous year's testimony and gave the example of economics, which requires a 4 to earn credit.
Students with a C (roughly equivalent to a 3) in an early economics class were 80 percent likely to continue in school but only 48 percent likely to graduate.
"If these scores ... encourage our children to go to college and try to get an education, great," Schupp said. "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."
Paul Wagner, representing the Council on Public Higher Education, spoke in support. He said COPHE had worked with Brown to tweak the bill so colleges would not have to give credit in subjects they did not offer. For instance, if a student took an AP Japanese Language and Culture Course, they would not receive credit at a school that does not offer an introductory course in that subject.
The University of Missouri System had testified in opposition at the House hearing, saying a 3 might not be an adequate score in a student's major, but testified in support at Tuesday's hearing, saying it had worked with Brown on the bill and a lot of colleges within the universities were "moving toward 3s."
Rep. Jonathan Patterson, R-Lee's Summit, presented HB 2325.
It would allow out-of-state vendors to offer pathways to high school diplomas within Missouri. The bill also contains provisions that allow students to count extracurricular activities for certain credits and allow synchronous instruction at adult high schools.
Chairperson Cindy O'Laughlin motioned to go into executive session to immediately pass the bills since the end of session is approaching.
The AP exam bill and Patterson's bill passed 8-1, with Schupp as the lone dissenting vote in both.
The committee also passed an omnibus bill, HB 1750, and a bill that would prohibit discrimination against belief-based organizations based on leadership criteria, HB 1724.
HB 1683: Advanced Placement exam credit
Sponsor: Rep. Chris Brown
HB 2325: Workforce diploma program
Sponsor: Rep. Jonathan Patterson
HB 1750: School board provisions
Sponsor: Rep. Chuck Bayse
HB 1724: Belief-based student associations
Sponsor: Rep. Brad Hudson