KDE to pay 2016-17 AP test fees for qualifying students

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In an effort to increase students’ opportunity to take Advanced Placement exams, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) will underwrite the cost of the tests in the 2016-17 school year for students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.

“The Kentucky Department of Education is committed to closing the opportunity gap for students, and as such, believes all students should have equal access to the benefits of AP coursework,” said Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt. “Nothing, including the testing fee, should stand in the way. All of our students should have the opportunity to enroll in AP classes and take the corresponding AP test for college credit.”

In 2016, more than 4,000 colleges and universities around the world received qualifying AP test scores for college credit, advanced placement, and/or consideration in the admission process, with many colleges and universities in the United States offering credit in one or more subjects for qualifying AP scores.

While KRS 160.348(3) requires costs of the AP exams to be paid by the KDE, state funding has not been available. In the past, the KDE worked to secure federal grants to pay the fees for private and public school students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch (FRL). Unfortunately, the recently enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) removes the grant provision (AP Test Fee Program) providing dedicated federal Title I funds for this purpose.

It is estimated that it will cost the department up to $800,000 to underwrite the tests for qualifying students. Pruitt said because student opportunity and access is such a high priority for the department, he has reallocated the money from other areas. Without the department covering the fee, it would be up to districts to pay the $53 test fee for students in poverty.

While students from all backgrounds can benefit from taking challenging coursework in high school, data from 2016 shows that nationwide among African American, Hispanic and Native American students with the potential to succeed in AP courses, only about half enroll in this rigorous coursework.

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