Local schools split on AP exam fees

By Ben Garbarek - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Many high school students take advanced placement courses, but to count toward college, you have to take a test - and it isn't cheap.

Now the state attorney general says parents who pay for the test shouldn't have to.

These tests cost $75 or more and many students take more than one AP class at a time. Right now Richmond schools will foot the bill for students to take the exams but Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover do not.

Many high school students take AP classes in the hopes of getting a head start in college. Attorney General Ken Cuccenelli recently ruled it's illegal for school districts to require parents to pay for these tests.

Nelson Colbert runs the AP program in Richmond Public Schools. He hopes free exams will get more students involved.

"We want to increase rigor in our daily instructions," he said. "One way to do that is to increase the number of students enrolled in the AP program."

Hanover Schools won't pay for the exam, but if students score at least a four out of five, parents will be reimbursed. Jamelle Wilson of Hanover Public Schools hopes money will motivate students.

"We hope that's an incentive for a student but sometimes it's not," she said. "Sometimes just the knowledge they can do a higher level course and be successful at it will motivate them on and this is just gravy."

Hanover High School students like Sam Westrick and Zack Verham say most students worry more about getting college credit, but getting the money back does help.

"Not worrying about the money is a good thing," Westrick said. "I have a feeling there are a lot of people out there that don't have the money. It's about a hundred dollars and if you don't do well that's a hundred dollars out of your pocket."

"It feels like the right thing to do if they're paying for it," Verham said. "(I'll try to) do my best to get the money back and get college credit, which is awesome."

The AP exam is optional for Henrico and Hanover students so Cuccenelli's decision won't force these schools to pay for the exams.

Richmond Public Schools spent $31,000 paying for AP exams last year while Hanover schools set aside $80,000 a year for exam reimbursements.

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