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NC receives federal grant to cover AP/IB exam fees for low-income kids

School testsAt the risk of committing education policy world heresy by saying something positive about the Department of Public Instruction and the federal Department of Education, let’s hear three cheers for the following announcement from the NC Public Schools website:

“Thanks to a grant and supplemental funds from the U.S. Department of Education, every eligible North Carolina high school student who took an Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exam last year will have his or her test fees covered.

As a part of the federal Advanced Placement Test Fee Program, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) will receive more than $880,000 to cover AP and IB exam fees for all low-income students who qualify. The Department will use the funds to reimburse districts for the IB exam fees and pay College Board directly on behalf of districts to cover outstanding balances they incurred for eligible students.

‘It is always good to see so many of our high school students taking advantage of AP and IB courses and the head start on college credit they offer,’ State Superintendent June Atkinson said. ‘I’m particularly pleased that we continue to receive this grant to support our low-income students so that they too can benefit from these courses. The cost of a test should never prevent students from pursuing their academic goals.’

North Carolina has received AP Test Fee Program Grants since at least 2003. AP and IB exams, which are administered by the College Board and the International Baccalaureate Organization, can cost students $89 per AP exam and $104 per IB exam, and many students will take more than one exam. NCDPI officials estimate this grant will help pay for AP and IB exams for more than 9,300 low-income students.

In 2012, 11 percent of the state’s high school seniors took at least one AP exam. A total of 29,395 students or 61.8 percent earned a 3 or better on an AP exam. AP exams are scored on a five-point scale with scores of 3, 4 or 5 considered high enough to qualify for college credit or placement at most colleges and universities. Overall, 53,836 students took AP exams, and most students took more than one AP course and exam. Advanced Placement courses are college-level courses offered in 34 subject areas. Visit the College Board website for more information.”

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