Budget cuts should not deter students from taking college-level courses and examinations

Advanced Placement exams are administered by the CollegeBoard.

Advanced Placement exams are administered by the CollegeBoard.

Tommy Lunn, Opinion Editor

After much deliberation over what should and should not be included in the fiscal year 2014-2015 budget, the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) board finalized their plan during the May 22 meeting. While cuts were necessary, the Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) fees should be subsidized by the county for those who need it the most.

In an email sent on behalf of FCPS Superintendent Karen Garza, one of the highlighted parts of the budget details that, “AP/IB test fees were included in the previous versions of the budget, but they were eliminated in the final budget.”

FCPS’s $2.5 billion budget for over 185,000 students is a daunting sum of money. Making millions of dollars of cuts is both understandable and necessary, but FCPS should not have completely scrapped paying for college-level examinations.

As of 2012, students in FCPS took a total of 35,759 AP and 7,525 IB examinations.  While this adds up to a few million dollars in total fees for the county, that is a small part of the total budget.

Regardless, the change is happening and FCPS seems to not have any intention of changing it.  As such, they need to make sure that low-income students are able to take exams at reduced no cost.

Many FCPS students can pay for the examinations, and it makes sense for them to do so.  However, for those who cannot the hundreds of dollars to take multiple exams is inhibiting.

For example, Stuart High School in Falls Church has an IB participation rate of 52 percent. At the same time, 54 percent of the students at Stuart are economically disadvantaged. Clearly these numbers have overlapping students both at Stuart and around the county.

When these AP examinations and classes have such large rewards such as college credit, those who are most at-risk should not be forced out of taking them.  If FCPS does not subsidize and encourage lower-income students to take AP and IB examinations, the poverty cycle will slip backwards.