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July 22, 2010

O'Malley proposes waiving AP and PSAT exam fee

by Liv Jacobson, Online Entertainment Editor
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (D) announced a plan to waive the $86 fee to take an Advanced Placement (AP) exam for all Maryland students in a press conference on July 13. The "AP Access and Success" program may begin during the 2011-2012 school year.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley proposes his "AP Access and Success" program at a press conference July 13. Courtesy of martinomalley.com
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley proposes his "AP Access and Success" program at a press conference July 13.
The "AP Access and Success" plan will be implemented over the course of two school years. Ideally, the plan will begin in the 2011-2012 school year and will cover the costs of the Biology, Calculus, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Science and Physics AP exams. During the 2012-2013 school year, the plan will expand to all AP exams.

In addition to covering AP exam fees, the "AP Access and Success" program also includes the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) exam fee for juniors. The proposal stated that taking the PSAT encourages interest in college, leads to scholarship opportunities and helps schools determine a student's college readiness.

O'Malley's proposal presented an estimated cost of $3 million during the first year, and an estimated cost of $7.5 million annually the following years. The program proposal estimated the cost of developmental education and community colleges and public universities costs the state between $25-30 million annually. O'Malley stated that by waiving the AP fee for students, more students can earn credit for these classes in high school, saving money for both the student and the state.

O'Malley proposed the plan as a way for students to save money on college courses and to create future jobs ultimately. "To move Maryland forward, we must continue to create and save jobs - and the single most important tool we have in our state to grow Maryland's small business and economy is education," the governor said. O'Malley stated in his proposal that there is a strong connection between AP participation and success in college and that success in college students can lead to successful careers.

In 2009, Montgomery County students counted for 33 percent of all students who took AP exams in Maryland. In addition, 72.3 percent of Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) students scored a three or higher on their exams, which is much higher than the national average of 57 percent. By waiving the fees for the exams, O'Malley hopes to increase this percentage for all Maryland school systems.

Some Blazers who take AP exams have welcomed the governor's proposal. Junior Sofi Sinozich, who plans to take 3 AP exams this year, explained that she currently feels limited by the cost of the exams. "If they were all free, I would probably take more," she said. Sinozich also expressed that paying for AP exams is risky due to its high cost.

Junior Melissa Herrera felt differently about the governor's proposal. She explained that the expensive fee encouraged her to do well on her AP U.S. Government & Politics exam, because she risks wasting her parents' money. "If the fee was expensive, students would want to try harder. At least that's the case for me," Herrera said.



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