Connecticut receives $274,272 to help students take AP tests

The U.S. Department of Education announced that it has awarded Connecticut $274,272 in Advanced Placement (AP) grants as part of its efforts to boost college- and career-readiness for students. Connecticut is one of 41 states and Washington, D.C., that received a total of $28.4 million to help cover the costs of taking AP tests for students from low-income families.

“The cost of a test should never prevent students from taking their first step towards higher education through advanced placement courses,” said James Cole Jr., general counsel delegated the duties of deputy secretary. “These grants are an important tool for states, and ultimately schools, to empower students from low-income neighborhoods to succeed in challenging courses.”

The grants are used to help pay for students from low-income families taking approved AP tests administered by the College Board, the International Baccalaureate Organization and Cambridge International Examinations. By subsidizing test fees, the program encourages all students to take advanced placement tests and obtain college credit for high school courses, reducing the time and cost required to complete a postsecondary degree.

Levels of funding per state were determined on the basis of state estimates of the numbers of tests that would be taken by students from low-income families. From 2015 to 2016, preliminary results show that the number of tests covered by the program increased from 831,913 to 862,204, an improvement of nearly 4 percent.

Based on the anticipated number of tests to be taken, the grants under the Advanced Placement Test Fee Program are expected to be sufficient to pay all but $15 of the cost of each advanced placement test taken by low-income students. States may opt to require students to pay a portion of the costs.

Challenges in course access are the reason why the Administration has progressively increased its focus on expanding access to computer science (CS). That is why the College Board, with National Science Foundation support, began developing a new AP Computer Science Principles course (AP CSP), designed with the goal to recruit and retain students who are typically underrepresented in CS fields. That course is rolling out nationally this month, with more than 2,000 classrooms already signed up, reaching an estimated 25,000 high school students in this academic year and putting AP CSP on track to be largest course launch in AP history.

The Department recently invited eight selected partnerships between institutions of higher education and non-traditional providers to participate in the EQUIP (Educational Quality through Innovation Partnerships) experiment. The partnerships will allow students—particularly from low-income families—to access federal student aid for the first time to enroll in programs offered by non-traditional training providers, in partnership with colleges and universities, including coding boot camps, online courses, and employer organizations.

The Advanced Placement Test Fee program is administered by the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. Including the grants announced today, the Obama Administration has awarded more than $190 million to states through this program.