Major Changes to AP Program Coming Next Year

Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, the College Board will hold Advanced Placement (AP) exam registration in November and introduce two new fees, garnering mixed feelings from teachers and the administration.

“While I understand the rationale of the College Board from their perspective, I don’t see it as being beneficial to students,” says AP US History teacher Pamela Rowe. “Asking a student to register for a test six months in advance doesn’t take into consideration that the students are still in their first quarter of the class.”

Students who decide to register after the Nov. 15 deadline but before March 13 will be charged a $40 late registration fee. After March 13, students will no longer be able to register for the exams. Those dropping AP classes after the first semester and opting out of exams will incur one or more $40 cancellation fees on top of registration fees. While Blake has given refunds in the past, they have been offered only after the students’ reasons for cancellation were reviewed.

Mrs. Rowe adds, “The cancellation policy is definitely unfair.  I cannot imagine that the economic cost to the College Board for a student not taking a test is of any monetary hardship to the College Board.”

In the future, some costs may be absorbed by Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). “My contact at central office is working with [the] MCPS Executive Leadership [Team] to examine financial implications of paying for student tests,” says AP Program Coordinator Anita O’Neill. “Perhaps by next year they will have something in place or at least start on a small scale.”

The College Board states they made these changes to their AP program because in the pilot schools that implemented fall registration, students who took the exams received higher scores and were more motivated to succeed. They also claim the number of students registered for AP exams increased overall, but especially among those students traditionally underrepresented in the AP program.

Ms. O’Neill doubts there is a correlation between fall registration and increased equity in the population taking AP exams. “Students are already in the classes when they register,” she says. “Equity should really focus on recruiting all students into AP classes.”

As for earlier registration increasing motivation to succeed, some teachers express skepticism. AP Language and Composition teacher Michael Kelley says, “I see no cause-effect relationship between those two things.”

The College Board is also offering more preparatory resources for teachers including new unit guides, a greater bank of formative AP questions, and a new dashboard to monitor students’ performance. A spokesman for the College Board says that these new programs will cause them to lose money, despite their new cost schematic.