The U.S. Department of Education announced today that it has awarded the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education a $672,919 grant as part of its efforts to boost college-and career readiness for historically underserved students.
Massachusetts’s funding will help defray the costs of low-income students taking Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams.
“We know that when students of all backgrounds are held to high expectations they excel. High school instruction needs to become more rigorous to foster college and career-readiness, and provide multiple pathways to success in order to prepare students for the 21st century global economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Advanced Placement courses are helping schools meet this challenge by developing the study skills, critical reasoning, and habits of mind that prepare students for college. These grants eliminate some of the financial roadblocks for low-income students taking Advanced Placement courses, letting them take tests with the potential of earning college credit while in high school.”
The grants are used to help pay for low-income students taking approved advanced placement tests administered by the College Board, the International Baccalaureate Organization and Cambridge International Examinations. By subsidizing test fees for low-income students, the program is intended to encourage those 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 low-income students. From 2013 to 2014, the number of tests for low income students covered by the program increased by over 6 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 $18 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.
The Obama Administration’s commitment to equity in education underlies nearly every significant activity of the Education Department — from My Brother’s Keeper to the proposed Race to the Top-Equity and Opportunity grant program, which would create incentives for states and school districts to drive comprehensive change in how they identify and close opportunity and achievement gaps.
The Advanced Placement Test Fee program is administered by the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. For additional information on the program and these new awards, visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/apfee/index.html.