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Decatur School Board considers new structure for AP, IB exam fees

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Decatur School Board considers new structure for AP, IB exam fees

Elizabeth Wilson School Support Center, City Schools of Decatur. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur School Board, at its Feb. 22 meeting, discussed reallocating the costs that come with advance placement and international baccalaureate testing. The school board discussed creating a structure where families who can afford to pay the fees would cover the cost for their student.

Currently, the district automatically signs IB and AP students up for their exams and pays the registration fee in full. The district has about 250 students in the IB programs and 620 students taking AP courses. If a student does not take the tests, City Schools of Decatur does not get refunded for that exam.

For IB tests, the district pays $119 per exam or assessment. Students in the IB diploma program take seven exams during their senior year, and those in the IB career-related program take two exams.

The cost of the AP exams is $96 per test.

“Right now, we are the only high school that I know of that pays for all of these exams for all of their students,” Decatur High School Principal Rochelle Lofstrand said. “The diploma program students in their senior year, we’re looking at $882 for those students who take all of those exams. For a career program student, that would be approximately $378.”

Over the years, the district has been spending more money on AP and IB tests. In fiscal year 2019, the district spent about $169,000 for IB tests and about $33,000 for AP exams. In the current fiscal year, the district has paid about $192,000 for IB testing and $57,000 for AP testing.

In total, for this school year, the district has incurred an expense of about $250,000 for IB and AP testing.

“There are significantly more students in our IB program, our diploma program, taking those exams, which is absolutely fantastic. At the same, it is also increasing our costs,” Lofstrand said.

Lofstrand proposed some changes to the testing fees, although nothing will change for this school year.

For the class of 2023, she suggested an idea to let students choose whether they will take each exam since they have completed one year of the IB program. If they decide to take the test, the district will register them and pay the fee. However, if students register for an exam in the fall and do not take the exam in the spring, they must reimburse the district for the cost of the exam.

Lofstrand added that this opt-out option is more for students who are taking AP course or who aren’t working toward receiving the IB diploma but are taking IB courses. Students in the IB diploma program have to take the exams in order to receive the diploma.

“For the class of 2024 and beyond, families would incur the cost of the tests, with financial support available,” Lofstrand said. “It is absolutely essential that our families know that these fees should not dissuade them from participating in our program at all.”

She added it’s important that the district provide an easy way for families to apply for assistance and CSD will cover the cost or part of the cost depending on what the families’ needs are.

“We feel that we would still need to budget every year approximately $50,000 in order to support our families who might need the financial assistance,” Lofstrand said.

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