AP exam test rates reach record high
Posted Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 —
A record-breaking number of Geneva High School students took advanced placement (AP) exams this May.
The school administered 327 exams to 149 students in 15 different subject areas—a new high attributed largely to the exam fee assistance offered by the Geneva Education Foundation.
“It keeps growing every year,” said Melina Del Plato, high school counselor. “I think the price was a factor for sure,” said Ms. Del Plato, noting that without assistance, AP exams cost $94. Now, thanks to the Geneva Education Foundation, students who cannot afford the fee don’t have to worry about it.
“It’s so exciting to see more of our students take on the challenge of a college-level course,” said Geneva City School District Superintendent Trina S. Newton. “One of our foundational goals has always been to increase the college and career readiness of our graduates, and the AP exams are an excellent way to do so for those pursuing higher ed,” she said.
The district has increased AP offerings: next year courses will include biology, calculus AB/BC, chemistry, comparative government, English language and composition, English literature and composition, environmental science, government and politics, microeconomics, physics 1/C, psychology, statistics, studio art, U.S. history and world history.
“The program itself is growing,” said Ms. Del Plato. “It’s going off of the interests of the students.”
There are a variety of advantages to taking AP courses and exams. Those who are successful on the exams are often able to receive college credit and thus save on the costs of a college course later. These may include electives or even credits toward a college major.
There are academic advantages, as well. The courses provide college level rigor in the comfort of a familiar environment, said Ms. Del Plato. “They’re surrounded by peers they’ve been around most of their lives, with teachers that they’re familiar with.”
Additionally, AP classes at the high school are weighted, meaning the grades they receive in the class are bumped when calculated into their overall grade point average (by 5 percent for taking the class, 10 percent if they sit the exam). “It impacts their class rank,” said Ms. Del Plato.
Ultimately, it’s about encouraging students to push themselves, she says. “It gives them an idea of what’s to come next,” she said.
Education Foundation supports AP exam access
“The Geneva Education Foundation is glad to support the Geneva City School District as it strives to ensure equal access to Advanced Placement (AP) exams for students for whom economic limitations may present a barrier to exam fees,” said Bernie Lynch, president of the board and owner of Lynch Furniture in Geneva. AP exams cost over $90 per test, and even with subsidies from the College Board, the cost can still present an insurmountable obstacle to some students. The Geneva Education Foundation, led by a seven-member volunteer board of directors, was established after a Geneva 2020 community summit in 2013 and was officially incorporated in 2014. Seed funding for the Foundation came from the proceeds of the annual Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS) Community Sale, an effort to find second uses for items left by Hobart and William Smith Colleges students at the conclusion of the academic year. Additional funding has been provided by the HWS Madrigal Dinner Concert, the Last Man Standing Club, and individual donors.
Given the close correlation between AP exam participation and increased high school graduation rates, and the goal of increased Geneva High School graduation rates as one of Geneva 2020’s primary objectives, this was a natural connection for the Geneva Education Foundation (GEF). GEF board members unanimously voted to approve the release of funds to help students from economically distressed families take the exams for the third consecutive year. The GEF donated $868 in 2016, $1,716 in 2017, $914 in 2018, and $465 in 2019, respectively, to help ensure equitable access to AP exams for students regardless of their family’s socio-economic status. Geneva High School Principal Greg Baker expressed his appreciation to the foundation for their continued support. “The funding provided by the Geneva Education Foundation for AP exams over the past four years has enabled our district to maintain consistent support to all students throughout the academic year, and especially at key milestones in their academic careers.” The Geneva Education Foundation was proud to partner with the Geneva Boys and Girls Club and the Geneva Public Library to support access to mobile technology through a $42,000 grant made possible by Spectrum Communications.
If you would like to apply for financial support of a project that aligns with the mission of GEF, which aims to promote and support innovative and high-quality public education through its partnership with schools, educators, parents, businesses, and the greater Geneva community, please submit this application to GEF secretary Katie Flowers, firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to support the GEF with a tax deductible donation, please email GEF treasurer Mike Roulan, email@example.com