For the first time ever, thousands of low-income students are getting help paying for their Advanced Placement examinations this month through federal grants aimed at making the College Board's AP test fees more affordable. The testing fee is $45 for low-income students and $74 for others.
The $3 million in federal funding was divvied up among 32 states to cover the cost of 67,000 tests.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said he sponsored the AP-test funding provision in an appropriations bill last year as a way to help increase the rate of AP test-taking in New Mexico. (Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, was his co-sponsor.)
Last year, New Mexico administered just 80 Advanced Placement exams for every 1,000 11th and 12th graders, well below the national average of 139 tests.
"We'd been trying to figure out how to promote more APs in low-income schools," Mr. Bingaman said in an interview last week. "One concern that comes out right away is cost."
Mr. Bingaman said he will seek to boost the grants for AP support to $10 million in fiscal 1999.
Head of his class
Most members of Congress can't help but brag about their accomplishments when they have a constituent testifying at a hearing. Rep. Bill Goodling, R-Pa., has apparently had so many accomplishments, though, that he can't remember them all.
As the 70-year-old chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee introduced his invited speaker on May 13 Jack Van Newkirk, the superintendent of the 7,600-student York (Pa.) City School District, he noted that he had graduated from that district with honors.
"But I can't remember if I was valedictorian or salutatorian," Mr. Goodling said with a perplexed look.
Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley is not known for his sound bites. But at a May 14 press conference he found a quip to denounce a Republican plan to create tax incentives for paying K-12 expenses.
After pointing out that a congressional committee estimates families of public school students would save just $7 a year under the GOP plan, Mr. Riley argued that it would not help reform schools.
"We need real change, not spare change," he said.
--JESSICA L. SANDHAM, JOETTA L. SACK, & DAVID J. HOFF
Vol. 17, Issue 37, Page 18