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Feds fund AP tests for low-income students

August 1, 2012 |  4:44 pm

California will receive $7.6 million to help low-income high school students pay for Advanced Placement tests, the federal government announced Wednesday.

The funding, based on the anticipated number of test-takers and other factors, will provide up to $38 per exam for as many as three exams for each student. The goal is to increase the number of low-income students who can earn scores high enough to qualify for college academic credit.

The total funding of $21.5 million will be distributed among 43 states. The second-largest grant of $2 million is set aside for Texas.

“Advanced Placement participation is an important element in creating a college-going culture in our high schools,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a statement.  “AP courses help students develop the study skills, critical reasoning and habits of mind that prepare them for the transition to college.”

Increasing AP participation has been a goal of the Obama administration.

Critics have faulted some AP courses for stressing memorization over critical thinking and note that students vying for admission to the best colleges often load themselves down with AP classes and end up excluding other activities.

Last year, California used grant funding from this program to pay for all but $5 of a participating student’s AP exam cost. The full fee for an exam is currently $87. Without the federal grant, low-income students would pay $53 through subsidies provided by schools and the College Board, which administers the tests.

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-- Howard Blume

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