Massachusetts will pay for AP STEM Exams for Low-Income Students


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For many Latinos, the dream of attaining an education beyond high school is unreachable. Whether it is a lack of access, a lack of funds, or a lack of resources, many just do not have the option of going to college.

In Massachusetts (10.56% Latino population), some of those barriers are about to be eliminated thanks to an initiative from the state’s STEM Advisory Council. Gov. Charlie Baker announced that the state will pay $326,000 to pay for advanced placement exams in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects for low-income students.

“Massachusetts has one of the fastest growing innovation economies in the nation, and it is important we continue to develop a strong pipeline of skilled workers to fill critical job openings in STEM fields,” Governor Charlie Baker said in a press release. “The Administration’s ability to help provide this impromptu support will ensure low-income students who are challenging themselves with advance placement courses are given the opportunity to earn college credit for their hard work.”

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Recently, the Every Student Succeeds Act eliminated funding for AP exams for low-income students and included it in the “Title IV block grant.” Members of the STEM Advisory Council expect this one-time support will provide a bridge for districts to cover costs during the 2017-18 school year

It is anticipated that school officials in Massachusetts will be in a better position to predict federal aid levels and appropriately plan for continuing AP STEM access.

“Barriers to AP tests leave too many underserved students at a disadvantage as they pursue STEM careers through high school and into college,” said U.S Representative Joseph Kennedy III, one of the co-chairs of the STEM Advisory Council. “By using these funds to support students seeking to challenge themselves in our classrooms, we will not only help them grow and succeed, we are investing in the future of our workforce and economy.”

As part of this initiative, exams in biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, calculus, environmental science, and statistics will be covered for low-income students in May 2017.

Without federal funding, school districts have to fund the cost of the exams for low-income students, $38 per exam with the students paying $15, or the costs would fall entirely to the students themselves at $53 per exam.

“Having become aware of the threat that budgetary uncertainty at the federal level is currently posing for low-income students to take AP tests, we are very pleased to provide this funding,” Massachusetts Education Secretary James Peyser said. “I am hopeful that this funding will ensure that all eligible AP students will be extended an opportunity to take AP exams in STEM subjects.”

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