Friday, June 21, 2024

School Committee member Patty Nolan. She expressed surprise Tuesday at the low percent of students in Advanced Placement courses who take the related tests at the end. (Photo: Liv Rachelle Gold)

The low number of high school students taking Advanced Placement tests after a semester or year of associated classes surprised School Committee member Patty Nolan during a presentation Tuesday, and she suggested a way to boost the figure: Have Cambridge help pay for them.

“It seemed like a very, very low percentage was taking the exams,” she told Cambridge Rindge & Latin School Principal Chris Saheed during his presentation to the committee. “Do we know if that 39 percent [of AP students] taking the exam seems low? Maybe it’s high.”

Saheed confirmed it was low, in part because there was a “financial factor” — especially for students taking more than one AP course. Some may take up to five a year, since the courses offer college credit and can exempt students with higher scores from an even more expensive course later.

The tests have a base fee of $86, according to The College Board, but can cost as much as $120 with add-on charges in some districts.

“Each one costs a significant amount of money,” Saheed said, although there are need-based reductions from the board that can bring the cost of an exam to $56.

“Do we not supply or pay the fee for anyone who can’t afford it? I bet this committee would vote to do that,” Nolan said. “I’d hope we could come up with some way” to encourage more students to take the tests.