City Schools of Decatur to stop paying for all students’ AP, IB exams

Students at Decatur High will have to pay for the exams at the end of their Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes starting school next year, the school’s principal said in a recent email to families.

The district typically covers the cost of the tests for all students who take them. Both types of advanced academic classes afford students the chance to get college credit in high school, depending on their scores.

“It is not feasible for the school and district to continue to cover the total cost of the tests,” Principal Rochelle Lofstrand stated in the email.

The change, previously reported by Decaturish.com, would not go into effect until the next academic year. Families will have the option to pay for the exams starting this year.

Each AP exam costs $97 and each IB exam costs $119. Nearly 900 students took AP or IB tests last year, according to the message to families. That was a bill of almost $250,000 for the district.

Additionally, Lofstrand said, a “disproportionate number” of families who benefit from the free testing could “comfortably incur the costs.”

Decatur High is the district’s sole high school, with about 1,700 students. Less than 10% of those students were eligible for free or reduced lunch last year, state records show.

“Creating a structure where families who can afford to pay fees cover these costs for their students would free up district funds to provide more resources for students who are in greater financial need,” the email explained.

ExploreOpinion: Georgia should pay for more AP exams for students

The state of Georgia pays for one AP exam for low-income students and one STEM-focused AP exam for all students who do not qualify for free and reduced lunch. Some districts offer more AP exams free for students. A recent study of four metro Atlanta school districts found that when districts cover the fees, more students take AP exams.

Scholarships and payment plans will be available, Lofstrand said.