This year, the cost of the Advanced Placement (AP) exams offered at Stuyvesant was subsidized from $93 to $9.00 for those who pay for full-priced lunch. For students who receive free lunch, they will not be charged for taking the exams.
While taking an AP course, students are required to complete a full year of the class and are encouraged to take the final AP exam at the end of the year. Initially, students received an e-mail from Assistant Principal of Organization Randi Damesek announcing that the Department of Education (DOE) would charge students $93 to take each test on Monday, February 6.
When offered a $9.00 rebate, the school declined because they wanted extra funding to go toward the reduction of exam costs for students who receive free/reduced lunch. With this money and the $31 discount these students receive from the College Board, the cost of their exam would have been $53.
A finalized announcement that the DOE would be covering the full cost of the AP exams for students with free/reduced lunch was sent out on Friday, February 10. Students who are ineligible for free/reduced lunch are still required to pay $9.00. In addition to this cost reduction, there has been a $15 fee established for students that miss their AP exams.
Stuyvesant’s status regarding Measures of Student Learning (MOSL), a system where teachers are evaluated on a standardized test that all their students take, contributed to this significant drop in price. While the DOE does not require that all schools use MOSL, it is pushing for schools to participate. At Stuyvesant, AP exams were chosen as MOSL selections, meaning that the AP exams were used to assess the students and teachers in accordance with the MOSL guidelines.
This year, the DOE allowed for schools that used MOSL last year to benefit from a cost reduction, and Stuyvesant was one of the schools that fit into this category. “Since the College Board did not submit a request for AP exams to be an option [for MOSL selections], they were not possible MOSL selections. But the DOE, understanding that the transition might be challenging, has offered waivers. The exams will be either free or reduced depending on if they were used last year,” Interim Acting Principal Eric Contreras said.
It is quite important that AP exams maintain their free or reduced cost status, because without all students taking this examination, teachers would never receive a truly authentic review of their students. “The reason they [AP exams] are free when they’re MOSL options is that in order for them to be valid, it can’t be contingent on students being able to pay for it or not,” Contreras said.
Contreras, having taken a wide number of AP courses during his high school career, believes that students should be taking AP courses for the sake of expanding their knowledge and horizons rather than for a high test score. “I think you should take an AP class because you want to pursue a career in that area or you have an interest in that topic,” he said. “You should take it not for the sake of taking the AP exam, but you take it because of the journey of learning you’re going to have throughout the time in that course.”