Monday, February 14, 2011

Advanced Placement test fees due

If you've got a high school student taking the Advanced Placement tests, you've probably already paid your $87 per course fee. If not, consider this your last-minute reminder, because the fees must be paid no later than tomorrow. Students must turn in complete payment or a fee waiver by then, according to CMS. Waivers can be granted for low-income students.

CMS used to pay the fees for parents, but due to the budget cuts this year, parents are on their own. CMS says in this FAQ that it's saving $1.4 million by cutting money for AP and International Baccalaureate fees from its budget. Fees for students taking more than one of these college-credit courses can really add up, causing headaches for families already struggling with layoffs and pay cuts. One student wrote the paper to say his family's paying $621 for five IB exams this year. He said he was considering sitting out his two AP exams to save money.

As a parent who just shelled out about $188 (plus online "convenience fees") for two AP tests for my daughter, I must say I was a little miffed to think parents in previous budget years didn't fork over the same amount. On the other hand, I don't even want to imagine how much the same classes cost in the UNC system. So, I suppose it's still a bargain.

Have you paid your fees yet? What do you think of CMS' policy of not paying them?

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

The $188 would pay for one of the same classes at a community college, but the books would be extra. You say you're miffed at the price, but you don't even mention the possibility of your child attending a community college for two years before entering the UNC system. It would save you a lot of money, but it doesn't seem to be a consideration. Why not?

Anonymous said...

I will admit that we benefited quite a bit from CMS's previous policy of paying for AP exams, as my youngest son took many AP courses. My older two sons did also, but because we then lived in a different school system we paid for all of their exams--didn't occur to us that the fee should be the responsibility of the school system. In fact when we moved here we were very surprised to hear that CMS paid for these tests, as this is not a common practice in most places in the U.S. If I'm not mistaken CMS was the only system in the state that paid for exams, but apparently we were also the only system in the state that required all AP students to take the exam in order to pass the course. I wonder if that requirement has been dropped? For what it's worth, CMS had a pretty low pass rate on those exams because of this requirement. Other systems, like Wake, had a higher pass rate because apparently only students who felt well prepared were taking those tests.

Eric Frazier said...

Anon 11 a.m: I'd love to consider community college for two years, but that would involve my daughter living at home for two years. The mere idle suggestion of that as an option has already drawn an "Are you out of your mind?!" look in response from her.

Anon 11:32 -- CMS, when it stopped paying for the tests, did drop their policy that prodded kids who took the AP courses to take the AP exams.

Anonymous said...

Eric, would you really want to send your daughter to a community college where she would be taught mainly by part-time instructors? These instructors wouldn't be available to your child outside of class, because they have to leave and drive to another college where they also teach part-time.

Anonymous said...

Why would your daughter have to live at home to attend community college? Why could she not get an apartment?

Also just because the professor is part-time doesn't mean they'd be unavailable! With today's ways of communications even full-time professors are hard to find in their offices.

Anonymous said...

"Waivers can be granted for low-income students."

Any body want to venture a guess, as a parent, how sick and tired I am of seeing that statement?

Anonymous said...

I agree that with CMS’s budget issues, they are doing a reasonable thing by passing the cost of the AP test to the student. However, I think it is ironic that CMS has to pay for students to retake a grade if they fail, but AP students have to pay for being successful. This sound cruel, but I think the family needs to pay when a student fails a grade.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps that family ought to re-consider and take the AP Exams instead. IB exams do not neccessarily gurantee you credit. The college board however, is a national program that does. Colleges do not value IB over AP they are both similiar in academia.

Wiley Coyote said...

Eric,

Until the Observer stops skirting the issue of the USDA Lunch Program and exposes the government's unwillingness to allow school systems to fully audit the program, running articles such as this and on sports fees is a moot point.

CMS makes 97,000 lunches per day and a little over 74,000 are on the FRL program. That means 23,000+ (since there are 135,000 students) wind up paying for their kids to eat lunch, play sports and take AP/IB tests.

The problem is, based on CMS sample audits, approximately 60% don't qualify for the program but there isn't anything they can do about it. Translated, that means upwards of 44,000 are getting to eat free, play sports for free and take tests for free.

The cost per student for lunch at CMS is $2.00. If in fact 44,000 do not qualify, in a 180 day school year, that comes out to be $15,840,000 wasted. Those funds could be used to keep teachers in the classroom and more than enough to cover AP/IB test and sports fees for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:50, you didn't get my point about part-time professors. They teach MORE than full-time professors, and in order make a modest living they have to teach more classes, at multiple institutions, than they can handle. Students get shorted. Today's communications certainly can help, but not so much when you're a 'freeway flier' driving all over the state trying to piece together 20K a year.

Anonymous said...

You save a lot of money by paying the fee for an Advanced Placement Exam for college credit. Courses cost a lot of money. Plus you add tuition unless you're going to a community college. Then if you are dorming, you add room and board. You add text books regarless. So the fee for advanced placement exams is a bargain.

Anonymous said...

I am a full time teacher at CPCC. As a former part time teacher, I made plenty of time for my students. I believe instructors are more available at the community college level than at a 4 year university. Professors at 4 year schools have to focus on research, while C.C. instructors have more time to focus on classroom education.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:18--How many classes a semester did you teach when you were a part-time instructor? If the answer is less than six, how did you afford to pay for food and shelter?

Anonymous said...

Community college is a much better route to take. I went to community college after high school because i knew that I could transfer in with the standing as a junior and take all of the same classes as my other classmate had, yet I only paid 1400 with books for a whole year. My instructors were all full-time and always available when I needed help. I ended up transferring out of state to Clemson and am very well prepared, especially from my biology and chemistry classes. I have even talked to professors here and at different graduate schools I am looking at and a lot of them are saying I need to retake my classes I got AP credit in because grad schools and even medical schools do not look highly upon them since they are not actual college classes with the same rigor.

Anonymous said...

anon 2:07--if you had all full-time instructors at a community college, you were very lucky. Most NC C.C's have tilted toward a 70% part-time faculty. They would go further than that, but they risk losing accreditation.

Anonymous said...

My son was accepted into 4 out of the 5 colleges he applied to this year. He wrote his college essay about an AP class he received a C in despite scoring a 4 on the national exam. A 3 is passing. A 5 in some subject areas means you're considering Georgetown as a safety school.

Some colleges (generally the most prestigious ones) don't accept any AP scores for credit but fully expect students to have AP classes on their high school transcripts. The college my son will be attending accepts AP scores for credit - some classes requiring a 3 for credit and some classes requiring a 4 or 5 for credit.

The cost of taking an AP exam and passing it is a bargain if your child attends a college where they'll receive credit. Therefore, I can't believe anyone would kabitz about shelling out a relatively small amount of money to take an AP exam (in the context of overall college costs). Give me a break. Except in cases of extreme hardship, when was the last time SAT and ACT exams were offered free?

Anonymous said...

I just paid for my 11th grade daughter to take 2 AP exams. I thought it was fair that I should pay for them. I am glad that there is a waiver for low-income families, though, because low-income students deserve the same opportunities in public school as my children do.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 2:22,

What about the potentially 44,000 who get it for free but may not qualify?

You think they deserve it?

therestofthestory said...

2:22 PM. I agree with you in principle. However sample audits of the FRL program here indicate a roughly 60% fraud rate, i.e. the application did not check out with the information. This needs to be fixed.

Secondly, I had a child who was able to save a semester in college due to their passing rates on AP exams and agressive scheduling. They were motivated though because of a non college credit internship they wanted to do.

Anonymous said...

I am not in the school system anymore (my children are now in college), but the IB class scores are accepted for credit in far fewer schools than AP scores are, and the most competitive schools generally accept either 4s or 5s in AP. I would have checked a couple of things before I paid for these exams: 1) Was the teacher actually teaching the AP material? i.e. how many students have passed the AP exam after taking that teachers' class? 2) find out if you are paying for something that will not be accepted at schools you are considering 3) place your bets carefully by choosing those tests that are taught by teachers who are actually teaching the material. If only one person on average passes the AP test after taking an AP course, is it really an AP course? I say no.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Clemson...

Clemson has an interesting program called"Bridge to Clemson"that's a phenomenal college bargain especially if you're an out-of- state student.

The program is offered to a select group of freshman by invitation only who Clemson can't find space for their freshman year. Students are guaranteed a spot at Clemson their sophomore year after completing the "Bridge to Clemson" program at Tri-county Technical College which is 4 miles from Clemson's campus. Advisers from both institutions assist students in selecting courses that transfer to Clemson. A Clemson coordinator is available to meet with Bridge students throughout their freshman year.

The out-of-state savings for a student willing to spend their freshman year at Tri-County Technical College (which offers housing and transportation between the two schools) before transferring fully into Clemson their sophomore year is significant.

Unfortunately, Clemson was my child's second college choice so we'll be paying 4 years of tuition at an equally expensive college in the same college rankings clump.

Go Tigers!

Anonymous said...

Since we continue to pay for FRL students to take the APs, I wonder if it wouldn't be wise to establish some ground rules for whose exams would be paid for. If my child was doing D work and showed little interest or inititative in an AP class, I probably would not be willing to pay for his test. Do the same rules apply to students whose tests are being paid for by the system? Can you have a D or F average and still have CMS pay for your test?

Anonymous said...

I taught undergraduate classes as a graduate TA at the most expensive university in the country (as of last year). Granted, I was only allowed to teach beginning level courses for non-majors but how would a part-time professor at CPCC with a minimum of a M.A. in their subject area be any more or less qualified to teach a beginning level course than I was? I taught undergraduate classes at age 22 and 23 at a university that cost $51,000 in 2009 (tuition, room & board NOT including books & fees). I did teach at two other universities after completing my M.A. The amazing thing is CMS would not consider me "qualified" to teach without an education license.

Be careful in underestimating the value of community college.

Anonymous said...

I am having difficulty formulating my thoughts on this issue (if you can really call it an "issue").

I attended private schools my entire life; while in grammar school I ran cross country and played on our lacrosse team. In addition to the tuition my parents had to pay there for the six of us, they had to not only pay for team membership, they had to buy every piece of equipment on down to the shoulder pads, helmet, lax stick etc. That runs, literally, close to $500 per year.

Same when I went to prep school: pay-to-play, and since I grew about eight inches in two years I outgrew every single piece of equipment. Uni's and warmups and practice sweats were all on top of that too! It was a costly endeavour.

All of this on top of a $22,000 a year tuition my parents paid.

WE had to pay for each individual AP exam as well, as it was not included in our hefty tuition. Throw in - on top of that - senior year college application fees! I applied to about twenty schools, and at an average cost of $50/each... plus Princeton Review Prep courses as well, study abroad junior and senior year in France, it really adds up!

I guess what it boils down to is I think parents should be responsible to pay for all of these things -- at public school or private. The College Board, which administers the Advanced Placement program, does offer fee waivers for the very needy, so I do not think that should be an issue.

Most important to consider is what credit do schools give! I scored a 5 on AP Biology, and a 4 on every other single exam. It is quite a good many years since my college days now, but I went to Wake Forest and if I recall correctly, they only gave credit for 5's. Didn't matter much anyway, it was not like I was going to graduate any earlier (or save any money, for that matter).

Heck, a lot of the top-tier schools do not accept AP credits whatsoever any more!! But as one poster pointed out previously, if your child is looking to go to Davidson College and has a score report full of 5's -- that is what is going to help gain them admission, credits or no credits.

Anonymous said...

The real story of AP classes is that colleges want to see "academic rigor". In addition, since APs carry two quality points (meaning an A in the class is worth 6 points vs 4 for a regular class) students need to take the classes for their GPA. If everyone else is taking APs and your student doesn't then their transcript won't be as strong and their GPA (and class rank) will be lower.

Tina Marcroft said...

APs no longer are used for credit anymore at most reputable schools. They are only used as "general credits towards graduation" but cannot be used towards a specific requirement. APs are really only now "special honors" classes that schools use to decide acceptance or not. Really you are paying for the high school course but not the college course. Most college courses are more rigorous anyway. I got a 5 on the AP Bio exam extremely easily--it was a joke.

(Source--UCLA student)

Anonymous said...

For those upset about the fee waiver for low-income students, it is paid for in part or in whole by the College Board, the organization that owns Advanced Placement.

Anonymous said...

Just so you all know, CMS would pay for and require students to take AP tests when enrolled in an AP class because that is how Newsweek ranks America's top High Schools. That's why they would fail a student, or drop their grade for not taking the AP exam. It affected CMS's ranking.

Anonymous said...

3:37
Yes, this is why many private schools in Charlotte that have a 100% graduation rate and a 100% of their students matriculating into college don't have a class ranking system. Although, they still have valedictorians and solutatorians.

Also, not all high schools are ranked equally among colleges. Most colleges also throw out G.P.A.'s and recalculate them according to their own standards.

Anonymous said...

"salutatorian" - which I wasn't.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 4:36...

I don't care who pays for it.

When you have the level of fraud associated with the lunch program and many thousands of students who DON'T qualify for FRL, they should not be getting the tests for free.

Anonymous said...

4:39

Great point. Newsweek ranks high schools based on the percentage of students who take AP classes not the percentage who actually pass AP exams. If I'm not mistaken, CMS has a pretty low AP pass rate.

Don't get me going on the college ranking system where things like "yield" and percentage of students admitted matters.

And do I really care how green a college is or it's fire safely rating?

Anonymous said...

On a roll...
fire safety rating.

Anonymous said...

Actually, what we all need to remember is that no matter who "pays" for FRL AP exams, the school system or the College Board, "we" are the ones actually paying. If CMS pays, then there is less money in the budget for other things (budget coming from our tax dollars). If College Board pays, then the cost for paying customers (i.e. parents) is inflated to make up for the students who are getting a free ride. As far as I know there is no foundation paying for this. It's a real problem--there are deserving poor students but once again the rest of us are being stuck with the bill/

Anonymous said...

"Also, not all high schools are ranked equally among colleges. Most colleges also throw out G.P.A.'s and recalculate them according to their own standards."

This is true. I went to a boarding school and when many colleges came to visit they told us that when looking at GPA's they added a point to ours because they knew the kind of academic environment we were in. Keep in mind this wasn't Ivy League schools saying this, but mostly liberal arts school a notch below the Ivies.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, CMS is in a pecuniary position in which it cannot afford to engage in all of its previous expenses. I've been a CMS student for almost 8 years, and this year I have to pay for 6 AP exams. Despite the associated cost, however, I'm willing to fork over my own money in order to take much-needed academic tests that do resonate with college admission officers.

The fact of the matter is that if someone really wants to prove academic success with an AP test, they will pay for such a privilege. Of course, I also agree with CMS's waiver policy; there are plenty of students who would miss out if it wasn't for this much-needed assistance.

Anonymous said...

2:23,
Every college we visited with our son admitted they throw out GPA's and recalculate them based on a number of factors.

Read "The Gatekeepers". It's a fascinating book about the college admissions process that confirms what most college educated parents fear.

The most elite colleges - that boldly espouse the ideal of diverse campus nirvanas - actually discourage college educated parents from enrolling their children in economically disadvantaged and racially diverse K-12 schools.

I don't know about you, but I find this mind blowing.

Anonymous said...

What IDOITS at the NC State Dept. of Education decided to add Dance to their standardized EOG/EOC testing lineup in 2013!

Anonymous said...

IDIOTS which should be spelled IDOITS in this case.

Anonymous said...

Ann and Eric,

What's up with the TeacherInsight Gallup Poll that CMS is using to gauge teacher effectiveness in their hiring process - including substitute teachers? Why does the test keep changing (between December and February)? How accurate is this test? Why can't people who take the test find out their score? What's going on here?

Ann Doss Helms said...

Neither of us knows about that poll. I'll try to get an answer.

anonymous said...

Our school dist in Il. just started to force more kids into AP classes from honors classes. The teaching staff are resisting this. Their argument to me is it diminishes the class. Also every student in the class is required to pay the full $87 fee. We've always paid as it looks good on the college app. It looks like College Board is really pushing this through out the state. I've always heard College Board has an interest in the collection of all this data. Is this the dark side of College Board?