Smith seeks to assist low-income students with AP exam fees

Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, speaks to the crowd after being sworn in at Oak Hills Elementary School in Valencia. Signal file photo Dan Watson/The Signal

A bill that would ensure low-income high school students have access to advanced placement (AP) exams has passed the Assembly Education Committee with bipartisan support.

Authored by Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, Assembly Bill 1233 passed the committee alongside three other bills authored by the first-term assemblywoman.

“The AP program is a great tool for encouraging college readiness, getting students engaged in challenging material and allowing students to bypass remediation and graduate earlier,” Smith said in a news release Thursday, adding “AB 1233 ensures that no student is turned away from these opportunities because they can’t afford a test.”

If the bill were to become law, AB 1233 would provide grants to school districts to reduce the AP exam fee from $94 to $5 for eligible students, including foster youth, because data shows the equity gap increases in states that eliminate low-income AP exam funding, Thursday’s release stated.

“We have hundreds of students on the free and reduced lunch program and they need help to pay for the AP test,” said Dave LeBarron, director of curriculum and assessment at the William S. Hart Union High School District.

“We do not want students to not take an AP class because they can’t afford the test,” LeBarron said. “We have a state grant that we now use to pay for the test for income-eligible students that expires June 30, 2019, and we have been wondering how we can continue helping those students. This bill gives us an avenue to continue helping those students with fiscal support.”

AB 1233 now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

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