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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Commissioner: Be careful changing Advanced Placement credits



A legislative move to raise the Advancement Placement test score needed to earn college credit in Florida is getting a cautious reaction from state Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith.

“We need to be very careful in any effort to increase the AP score needed for college credit as the negative impact on students could far outweigh the potential benefits," Smith, a former vice president with the College Board, which oversees the AP program, wrote in a short statement to The Gradebook. "My hope would be to address the concerns behind this potential change through our Articulation Coordinating Committee while we dig deeper into student performance data to determine if wider scale changes are needed.”

The proposal, embedded in SB 1732, would require students to score a 4 or higher on AP tests to get college credit in Florida, instead of the 3-or-above bar in place now. (AP tests are scored on a 1-to-5 scale.)

The bill passed the Senate Higher Education Committee on a 3-0 vote last week and is scheduled to be heard in the budget sucbommittee on higher ed appropriations on Wednesday.

Supporters, including the University of Florida, say it's needed because some students who get college credit with 3's on AP tests struggle in subsequent courses. Critics say it will deter students from taking AP classes - which some see as excellent prep for college.

Braulio Colon, interim director for the Florida College Access Network, formerly Enlace Florida, said in an email that the move seems aimed more at saving dollars than doing right by students. He pointed to potential savings in AP test costs and AP teacher bonuses. (Both the state and families may lose money, though, if they have to pay for classes that were once exempted. See this St. Petersburg Times story here.)

But Colon said the proposal could have a silver lining: an increase in demand for dual enrollment courses, "which our research suggests is a better overall deal for the student and the state."

[Last modified: Monday, April 11, 2011 2:58pm]


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