For Immediate Release - March 31, 2017

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Funding to Cover Costs of AP Exams for STEM-Related Subjects

STEM Advisory Council will spend $326,000 to help low-income students afford the tests

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced it will cover the costs of upcoming advanced placement exams in STEM subjects for low-income students, after the federal government recently eliminated specific funding for the exams.

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, who co-chairs the STEM Advisory Council, made the announcement at the Everett Chamber of Commerce meeting this morning. The STEM Advisory Council Executive Committee endorsed the Administration’s decision to allocate approximately $326,000 this year, from the STEM Pipeline fund, to cover the costs of AP exams in biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, calculus, environment science, and statistics.

“Massachusetts has one of the fastest growing innovation economies in the nation, and it is important we continue to develop a strong pipeline of skilled workers to fill critical job openings in STEM fields,” Governor Charlie Baker said. “The Administration’s ability to help provide this impromptu support will ensure low-income students who are challenging themselves with advance placement courses are given the opportunity to earn college credit for their hard work.” 

“With the AP exams approaching soon, I am pleased to announce that we are able to cover the cost of these exams for STEM subjects to support advanced placement testing and bolster more opportunities for student success," Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said. "We know this was a great concern for many educators, students and their families, and we are very happy that the Administration and the STEM Advisory Council can help."

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act eliminated specific funding for the cost of AP exams for low-income students, and included it in the Title IV block grant – causing concern for school superintendents and mayors.

Without federal funding, school districts would be forced to either pick up the cost of the exams for low-income students, $38 per exam with the students paying $15, or the costs would fall entirely to the students themselves at $53 per exam.

Along with Lt. Governor Polito, the STEM Advisory Council is also co-chaired by U.S Rep. Joseph Kennedy III and Vertex Pharmaceuticals President and CEO Dr. Jeff Leiden.

“Barriers to AP tests leave too many underserved students at a disadvantage as they pursue STEM careers through high school and into college,” U.S Representative Joseph Kennedy III said. “By using these funds to support students seeking to challenge themselves in our classrooms, we will not only help them grow and succeed, we are investing in the future of our workforce and economy.”

This level of funding is expected to cover costs for all exams in STEM subjects for low-income students statewide.

"Having become aware of the threat that budgetary uncertainty at the federal level is currently posing for low-income students to take AP tests, we are very pleased to provide this funding." Education Secretary James Peyser said. "I am hopeful that this funding will ensure that all eligible AP students will be extended an opportunity to take AP exams in STEM subjects."

Members of the STEM Advisory Council expect this one-time support will provide a bridge for districts to cover costs during the FY17-18 school year, and later school officials will be in a better position to predict federal aid levels and appropriately plan for continuing access to AP exams for low-income students. The deadline to register for advanced placement tests is April 7.

The STEM Advisory Council works to ensure all students are prepared to pursue post-secondary degrees or careers in STEM fields. The members of the Council play a critical role in determining and advancing key initiatives focused on strengthening STEM education and helping to fill the skills gap in high-demand STEM careers.

Created by M.G.L. Chapter 6, Section 218, the Council brings together representatives from state agencies, the Legislature, public and private sector partners involved with STEM planning and programming.