LUSD must address AP exam costs

Many students take an AP class because they believe that it will help them save money when it comes to taking classes in college. This year the price for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch jumped from $5 for an AP test to $63 — only $30 less than the $93 that most students pay — making it much harder for them to afford to pass their AP tests and get college credits.

Even a $100 for an AP class and possible college credits is a good bargain but the tests are still out of reach for some students and with the price increase, fewer students are taking the AP exams. This year the number of students taking AP tests dropped 15 percent and the number of AP tests being taken dropped 20 percent.

School districts must do more to provide financial assistance to students who qualify and have a hard time paying for AP exams. Exams should be funded the same way we fund clubs and sports: through fundraisers, donations, and district budgets.

If an AP teacher requires students to take the AP test or if the teacher gives the students the option of taking the AP test or the class final, the price of AP tests can eliminate the choice for these students and therefore could potentially violate the Williams Act if the fee is used “as a condition for participation in a class … regardless of whether the class or activity is compulsory or elective, or is for credit.” When the AP exam or its equivalent is a required component of these courses and students can’t afford the cost of the exam, then it can be argued that the fee is discriminatory, especially when teachers agree to retroactively adjust the course grade based on the student’s AP exam score.