California awarded $10.7 million to pay for advanced course tests

Advanced Placement history teacher Daniel Jocz talks about 19th century American history during a class at the Downtown Magnets High School in Los Angeles last year.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

California has received $10.7 million from the U.S. Department of Education to prepare low-income and underserved high school students for colleges and careers by partially covering the costs of advanced course tests.

“Students who do the work and succeed in Advanced Placement courses should not then be limited by their financial resources,” State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement. “We in California are committed to giving all our students -- including those from low-income families -- the benefits that come with these courses.”

By subsidizing fees for exams from the College Board, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge International, students will be better able to save time and money in working toward college credit in high school classrooms, according to the U.S. Department of Education.


Without the subsidies, an AP exam costs $89 and an IB test costs $108. The Advanced Placement Test Fee program, issued by the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, probably will cover all but $18 per exam; some states may require students to pay part of the remaining cost. In California, students who qualify for free or reduced-priced meals, a poverty indicator, will contribute $5.

“We know that when students of all backgrounds are held to high expectations they excel,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. “These grants eliminate some of the financial roadblocks for low-income students.”

Forty states, as well as Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands, received a total of $28.4 million in grants as part of the initiative. Funding for each state is based on the number of tests that are expected to be taken by low-income students. There’s been a 6% increase in the number of tests covered since last year.

In Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second-largest school system, the number of AP tests taken in the 2013-14 school year hit an all-time high: 48,000 exams, up 62% from seven years ago.

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