Aiming to help low-income students in the state of Washington, a group of public agencies, businesses, and non-profits in the education industry are trying to raise $800,000 to cover the cost of AP and International Baccalaureate (IB) exam fees for low-income students.
According to a report in the Seattle Times, Microsoft vowed to donate $100,000 while JPMorgan and Nordstrom are both kicking in $25,000 each. The Schultz Family Foundation, created by Howard Schultz of Starbucks, pledged to donate $100,000 according to a report in Education Week.
High school students taking AP courses have the chance to earn credits towards college, reducing the overall cost of a four-year degree. Typically, AP exams cost between $53 to $116 per test taken. For close to two decades, the federal government subsidized the fees for low income students taking the AP exam, limiting the fee to $15 per test.
All that changed with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which goes into effect in the 2017/2018 school year. The new law requires all students to be taught in a way that prepares them for college and the workforce. But it leaves AP exam fees alone with no funding set aside for the 2016/2017 school year.
According to research by the College Board, there is a direct correlation between succeeding in AP courses and going on to graduate from college. Additionally, the College Board found in a study in 2014 that during the past decade the amount of low income students who are taking AP courses has more than quadrupled.
Senator Lamar Alexander, sponsor of the ESSA, believes that the bill is “unleashing a new era of innovation and excellence in student achievement,” but he failed to address the budget cut on federal AP exam fee subsidization.
Author: Andrew Rombach
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