Every Arizona student deserves the opportunity to be successful in college.
While we’ve made some progress in recent years, it’s clear that much work needs to be done to expand high school students’ access to Advanced Placement (AP) and other rigorous coursework.
These courses are a key gateway to a successful college career. They are critical in preparing high school students for the rigors of a postsecondary education, challenging them to think critically and allowing them to earn college credits along the way.
Students who complete these courses are more likely to enroll in college, and ultimately more likely to succeed in completing two or four-year degrees.
So it’s unacceptable that only one-quarter of Arizona high school students take AP exams. Or that at least 235 high schools in Arizona offer no AP coursework at all. Or that students who come from low-income households or communities of color are underrepresented due to the cost of the exam and other factors being barriers to their access.
That’s why we are proud to work across the political aisle on Senate Bill 1295. This bill was informed by research from Helios Education Foundation and the College Board who have been committed to helping ensure we have the accurate data and understanding of rigorous course–taking in Arizona.
We’d like to thank our colleagues in the House Education and Appropriations committees for their support of this bill – it will take all of us, continuing to work together, to ensure that it’s part of the final Fiscal Year 2022 Budget package. In divisive times, this is a bipartisan bill that is good for Arizona and foundational to students’ success after high school.
SB1295 would establish the $1.5 million “AP Success Program” and the $1.2 million “AP Exam Program,” expanding access to AP coursework, increasing student participation and raising the level of success in AP courses and exams. It would also provide financial support to low-income students, as well as to schools to develop and implement the curriculum.
This has real-world impact, too. Quite simply, it pays to stay in school. The economic advantages of having a college degree cannot be overstated. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, a person with only a high school diploma makes an average of $746 a week versus an individual with a bachelor’s degree, who makes on average $1,248 a week.
That’s why this legislation is vital to our state’s economic prosperity and the quality of life for all Arizonans.
As a state with one of the largest and fastest growing Latino student populations in the nation, we must close the achievement gap that leaves so many students behind, especially students in low-income households or those in communities of color. Let’s all embrace this opportunity for a better future.
Sen. TJ Shope, a Coolidge Republican, represents Legislative District 8. Sen. Tony Navarrete, a Phoenix Democrat, represents Legislative District 30.