Now Is the Time for Systemwide Advanced Placement (AP) Policies and Procedures

Allan Hancock College, Member Transfer and Articulation Ad Hoc Committee

Academic Senate Resolutions about Advanced Placement (AP)

Academic Senate resolutions have called for investigating the feasibility of establishing statewide standards to be used for the application of AP credits (S05 9.03), reviewing research on AP credit policies and procedures (S94 4.05/F06 4.02), and developing a best practices paper (F06 4.02). Now is the time to establish such policies and procedures.

Why All Faculty Should Be Attentive To This Discussion?

More and more high school students attending the California Community Colleges (CCC) are requesting course credit based upon AP scores. Of the estimated 2.7 million students who graduated from U.S. public schools in 2006, 406,000 (14.8%) earned an AP Exam grade of 3 or higher on one or more AP Exams. Although faculty have purview to determine the application of these AP scores, many colleges have no mechanism for a systematic faculty review of AP curriculum and credit policies. The result is that students with AP scores may not receive credit for their AP scores or receive credit at one community college but not another.

Three Systemwide AP Policies

There are three systemwide AP policies that need to be implemented to help our students that seek credit for their AP scores; a systemwide CCC general education (GE) AP equivalency list, a procedure for determining AP course equivalency, and a standardized template for the dissemination of AP course equivalency information.

CCC GE AP Equivalency List

A Systemwide CCC GE AP Equivalency list would provide a clear and consistent reference for how AP scores are applied for GE. Currently, AP students may receive GE credit at one college because an AP course equivalency exists, but not at another because there is no AP course equivalency. By establishing a systemwide CCC GE AP list, the focus changes from discipline faculty on specific campuses determining major preparation "course equivalency" to establishing a systemwide "general education area equivalency". This is the case with the California State University General Education/Breadth (CSU GE/B) and Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC). Both patterns require a cut score of 3 for fulfillment of "general education area equivalency" even though many of the individual CSU and UC campus faculty require higher cut scores for their major preparation "course equivalency". It is a disservice to our CCC AP students not to have our own systemwide GE area equivalency policy.

Standardized Procedure for Determining AP Course Equivalency

A standardized procedure for determining major preparation "course equivalency" would assure students that they are getting the most accurate and consistent evaluation of their AP scores across all CCC campuses and provide the faculty with a standardized mechanism for determining AP course equivalencies. The articulation officer should play a key role in this process. Although it is the discipline faculty that determine AP course equivalency, the articulation officer can provide the faculty with AP course and examination information, AP course equivalency information from the college's four-year feeder institutions and, most importantly, articulation agreements between the college and the four-year institutions for those courses that are given AP course equivalency by the four-year institutions. This information is important for faculty to review when determining AP equivalencies.

Standardization of AP Equivalency Dissemination

Students, parents, AP high school instructors, counselors (both high school and college) and college faculty would all benefit from having a concise and informative standardized format for disseminating AP equivalency. Each college should be required to publish the standardized template in its college catalog and class schedules. Such a standardized format should include a list of all of the AP examinations available. Even though a specific course equivalency may not be identified or available on the college campus, there may be a transfer general education area equivalency that is fulfilled. This information should be available and it's appropriate to display it within this context.

Research conducted last year by Jane Church, articulation officer from Chabot College, found that the majority of colleges have an AP Equivalency list published in their catalog.

For the most part all of them provided subject and credit course equivalencies, while a number also provided associate degree and transfer GE area equivalency information.

The table below demonstrates the format that is being circulated among articulation officers and transfer center directors for review and comment. A finalized format will be brought to the Academic Senate for California Community College 2008 Spring Plenary in the form of a resolution.


It is very important for faculty across our system to pursue the awarding of AP credit and ensure that it is driven by faculty and that it benefits students. It is essential that faculty develop AP Equivalency lists for their college courses, use similar policies and procedures for determining AP credit, and have the list published in their catalog and schedule of classes.

AP Examination AP Score Subject Credit Unit Credit Prerequisite Met For The Following Courses(s) CCC GE Category Credit CSU GE Area Credit IGETC Area Credit
Art History 3

ART 103

ART 103+104


3 C1 3A or 3B