LCPS pays for AP Exams

Rachael Hargis, Staff Writer

As of 2021, LCPS has made the decision to pay for up to 4 AP exams per student, the reason being to make AP level classes more accessible for all students.

AP classes are opportunities for students to take college-level courses in high school. At the end of the year, students are given the option to take the exam that will exempt them from paying thousands of dollars to take the same class in college. Seems great, right? Well, there’s a catch.

In order to take the AP exams, students must pay $87, with the exception of one costing over $100. Although $87 is substantially more affordable than taking the course at a university, many families aren’t in the financial position to afford the fee. There is financial aid available for some people that reduces the cost, but this reduction doesn’t eliminate the financial burden altogether. 

“When students take 7 exams, the cost is $560. Even though in the scheme of things it’s saving families money for college, it’s still hard for families to come up with that money at that time,” says Mrs. Gresh, the testing coordinator at HHS.

With this new element of county-wide financial aid, the number of students taking the exams will inevitably increase. On the bright side, more students will reap the benefits of passing the exam. However, more students who take the exam without the intent of studying or passing it will increase, the reason being that students will take the exam anyway because it was given to them for free. Because of this, passing rates among students may decrease over time.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, the aspect of exams being funded by the county may not have as much of an impact on scores as much as each student’s volition and drive to do well. To be fair, students are still able to exempt themselves from test taking regardless of the school’s monetary involvement if they are uninterested.

“In a previous year when AP exams were paid for by the school, 90% of my students scored a 5,” says Mrs. Lee, an AP Psychology teacher. 

The whole purpose of AP classes is to give others access to a higher level of education, so it is hoped that all students choosing to take the exams will gain knowledge and experience regardless of their test results. 

“At the time of taking the tests, I didn’t have any definite college plans, meaning I wasn’t sure if I would need those AP test scores in the future. Regardless, I chose to take them because I thought it would still be beneficial to know the format of the tests,” says a former HHS student.

The question remaining is, what is more important? Is the allocation of funds to AP exams worth it if some students won’t take the opportunity seriously? At the end of the day, it is about whether one prioritizes the scores or the accessibility to testing.