Prince George’s County school officials restored their promise to cover the cost of Advanced Placement exams for low-income students, hours before protestors who launched at petition planned to picket the Board of Education.
“We understand your concerns and we do not want any family to feel anxiety over paying for AP Exams,” the school system said in an on-line announcement Thursday. “For the 2016-17 school year, PGCPS will continue the practice of covering AP Exam fees for all students.”
As part of an effort to boost AP exam participation, PGCPS had been spending nearly a half-million dollars a year covering the cost of AP exams for low-income students who qualify for free and reduced lunches. Each exam costs $93 to take.
“This decision does have financial implications that will require some additional adjustments, but we feel that this is the right thing to do,” the statement said. “We will revisit this practice for the 2017-18 school year, allowing students and families’ adequate time to plan and adjust, if needed.”
Before restoring the promise, PGCPS planned to cut the benefit to low income students as a budget trimming measure.
Students who score well on the exams can receive college credit, and can therefore save hundreds or thousands of dollars in college tuition expenses in the future.
The PGCPS policy of paying for AP exams significantly boosted the participation rate, which is one metric sometimes used to measure the quality of a school system. However, the rate of students who passed the exams was between 26 and 28 percent, according to sources familiar with the policy.
Currently, Prince George’s County Public Schools is the only system in the region to assume the cost for all students.