- Associated Press - Saturday, August 15, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Starting next year, a new state law should help more students get college credit for the advanced placement classes they took in high school, something supporters of the measure hope will keep more college-bound students from going out of state.

The legislation, which Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Thursday, requires all Illinois public colleges and universities to give students credit for a score of three or better on 34 of the AP course examinations. Currently, the minimum score required for college credit ranges between two and five, depending on the type of test and the school that the student wants to attend.

State Rep. Carol Sente of Vernon Hills, who introduced the bill in February, believes the new law will help clarify the policy, which she said “was all over the map.”

The chief sponsor of the bill, state Sen. Pat McGuire of Joliet, said students and their parents deserve clarity and consistency in the college application process.

“Students who challenge themselves with college-level courses while in high school and meet AP’s national exam standard of three deserve to get a jump on satisfying college degree requirements and save their families money in the process,” said McGuire, chairman of the Senate Committee on Higher Education.

Each school is still able to decide whether the student’s AP credit counts toward their major, general education or elective classes.

The goal is to encourage Illinois high school students to attend college in the state, because 14 other states - including Wisconsin and Indiana - already have similar rules, Sente said.

“Too many of Illinois’ best and brightest have been matriculating to Purdue, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ohio State and other out-of-state universities because those schools honor AP exam scores of three,” McGuire said. “This bill will make Illinois universities more attractive and affordable to ambitious, hard-working students. That builds Illinois’ talent base and helps our state progress and prosper.”

Greg Walker, vice president of the College Board’s Midwest regional Office, said the nonprofit is grateful that Illinois lawmakers decided to establish a statewide policy.

“At a time when AP participation and performance has increased significantly in the state, this law provides more students with a greater opportunity to graduate college on time,” he said.

The new policy will go into effect for the 2016-2017 academic year.

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