Students in the Long Beach Unified School District took nearly 9,000 Advanced Placement college level exams in 2014. That’s a 20 percent increase over the prior year, and a 154 percent increase over the past 10 years.
The numbers are expected to increase again this school year because LBUSD plans to help parents pay for the exams, which can cost hundreds of dollars per student when tests are taken in multiple subjects.
The 2014 data show students not only taking the exams in record numbers, but passing them in record numbers. More than 4,429 students earned a passing score of at least 3 out of 5 this year. A passing score allows students to earn college credit, which can save parents thousands of dollars on college tuition. Some high school graduates here begin college having already earned a year or more of credit toward their degree.
LBUSD will now provide students with greater access to AP exams by covering much of the cost for students and parents. AP exams cost $89 each, but this school year students will pay only $5 per exam for an unlimited number of exams. For each exam, students will deposit $15 and receive a $10 rebate once the exam is taken. This means that for a student who takes five AP exams, the tests will cost $25 instead of $445. This offer applies to students in grades 8 to 12 (some students take AP courses as early as eighth grade).
LBUSD was one of the first school districts to pay for and require students to take the PSAT exam in tenth grade, helping to identify more students who have the potential to attend college. Last school year, LBUSD covered the cost of at least two AP exams for all high school seniors, while seniors at Jordan and Cabrillo high schools were offered an unlimited number of free AP exams.
High school juniors this school year also will receive free SAT preparation, and the school district will cover the cost of the SAT college entrance exam for these students.
Funding is made possible through the state’s Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF, proposed by California Gov. Jerry Brown and approved by the state Legislature in 2013. The LCFF provides greater flexibility as to how certain state funds are used by local schools.