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IBHE/ICCB Joint report on AP/IB credit

Public colleges and universities are required by law (the College and Career Success for all Students Act as amended) to grant academic credit for Advanced Placement (AP) scores of 3 or higher and International Baccalaureate (IB) scores of 4 or higher. To ensure appropriate academic credit across the state’s public four-year and two-year colleges and universities, the Act requires the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) and the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) to analyze each institution’s credit-granting policies and the research used by each institution to determine credit granted.

Executive Summary

Two reports are included as part of this review: the first on Advanced Placement (AP) and the second on International Baccalaureate (IB). The two reports follow a similar structure:

  • Methodology,
  • Research used by campuses,
  • Analysis of credit granted, and
  • Recommendations.

In both reports, university and community college score articulations were sampled to gauge compliance. Based on the analysis, the IBHE and ICCB find that all public institutions sampled are compliant with Public Act 099-0624 in that AP scores of 3 or above and IB scores of 4 or above are awarded academic credit as indicated by the comprehensive tables publicly available at each institution’s website.

In complying with the legislation, institutions generally designated a point person to gather information on AP and IB curriculum and exam structure. That information was forwarded to appropriate department heads along with the statutory requirements. Faculty then discussed the match between AP and IB curricula and their institution’s courses. Decisions were made on that basis, frequently including quite nuanced decisions based on competency as indicated by different AP or IB score requirements.

It is notable that the great majority of AP exams and scores articulate as credit in the institutions’ general education program or as major prerequisites or major courses not as general elective credit. In the 4-year institutions sampled for this study, 100% of AP scores of 3 or above received academic credit. With the exception of AP exams articulated with certain studio courses in art and music, all AP scores of 3 or above received at least 3 hours of credit. 89% of AP scores were articulated with either specific courses, major electives, or counted as satisfying requirements of the institution’s general education program. In the case of community colleges sampled, 92% of AP scores are articulated to specific courses.

While the IB curriculum is structured very differently from AP with greater variation in content, institutions again articulated IB subject, score and level with specific courses, not general electives. At 4-year institutions sampled, 97% of IB subject-level-score combinations were articulated with a specific course or articulated with a major or general education elective. Only 3% of subject-level-score combinations were articulated as general elective credit toward graduation. In the case of community colleges sampled, 81% of IB subject-level-score combinations were articulated as specific courses. Among the report’s recommendations are that institutions should:

  • include clear policy statements, indicating that academic credit will be granted for all AP scores of 3 or higher and IB scores of 4 or higher in compliance with the legislation.
  • review on a rolling basis AP and IB curriculum to ensure that credit granted is consistent with changes in AP or IB curriculum.
  • benchmark their credit and course policies against those of other institutions to determine outliers, particularly in cases where only elective credit is granted.

The IBHE and ICCB should periodically audit compliance with the legislation and update their websites with links to each institution’s policies and tables of credit granted.
This summary along with the AP and IB reports were reviewed by IBHE’s Academic Leadership group, consisting of representatives of both 2- and 4-year public institutions, at its regular meeting on May 29, 2020.

Academic Credit Granted for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Review Responding to The College and Career Success for All Students Act (009-0624)