A multi-million dollar federal grant will make it possible for thousands of low-income California students to take exams that could give them college credit.
The California Department of Education received $10.8 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Test Fee Program to pay registration fees for more than 129,000 students who couldn’t otherwise afford to take Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) tests. The CDE has received funds from the program since the 1999-2000 academic year.
Advanced Placement exams are administered by the College Board in 34 subjects, including all the sciences, language, art, history, and music. Many colleges offer students full credit for that course if they pass the AP test. The registration fee for each exam is $89; of that, the student’s school receives $8.
The International Baccalaureate program is a rigorous, two-year academic curriculum for high school students, culminating with an IB diploma. It was founded in Geneva in 1968, for children of diplomats who moved frequently.
IB is less common in the United States than the AP program, but has been catching on in recent years and is offered in about 90 of the more than 1,300 public and private high schools in California. As with AP exams, colleges differ in how many credits they’ll award for passing grades, but tend to average about three units for an equivalent college course. Exam fees are a little more than $100 each.
“Students who work hard and earn the right to take these advanced tests should never find themselves limited by the fees,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “With this grant, we can remove one more obstacle and open one more door for some of the students who need it most.”
Under terms of the grant, eligible students will have to contribute $5 for each test and the state will pay the rest.