College & Workforce Readiness

Stoneman Douglas Students Get Fee Waivers for AP, SAT, and Might Get to Skip State Tests

By Catherine Gewertz — March 05, 2018 2 min read
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UPDATED Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will be exempt from fees for the Advanced Placement program and the SAT. They will also be excused from required state tests this year if the governor signs a measure approved by the Florida legislature.

The state Senate voted Monday to let students at the Parkland, Fla., high school skip Florida’s standardized tests, according to the Associated Press. The House followed suit later in the day, according to the Orlando Sentinel. A gunman killed 17 students and adults at the high school on Feb. 14.

The bill allows students to take the reading, writing, and math tests known as the FSAs, or Florida Standards Assessments, if they wish, but it would permit the high school to keep its current “A” rating even if many or all of the students decided to skip the exams, the AP reported. The measure also allows students—who missed two weeks of school after the shootings—to graduate with fewer class hours than are required, the Sentinel reported.

The legislation, House Bill 7055, now heads to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk.

Separately, all current students at Stoneman Douglas High School have been exempted from fees in the College Board’s Advanced Placement and SAT programs for the rest of their high school years. That means that 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students won’t have to pay anything to take the SAT exam or AP classes or to send their scores to colleges.

The College Board’s move came last Friday, in the wake of a controversy about a Feb. 21 letter from company President David Coleman to College Board members, in which he referred to the role AP classes have played in the education of student activists from Stoneman Douglas, and also appeared to critique one of those student activists’ position on gun control.

The letter sparked anger from college counselors and admissions officers, and the College Board issued a statement apologizing for having “taken the focus away from the needs” of the Parkland community.

When anger persisted, however, Coleman reached out privately to members of the College Board community, and several reported on social media and listservs that he had apologized.

Late last week, Coleman sent a letter to a private counselor’s Facebook group called ACCEPT, offering to waive fees for all College Board programs. One college official posted the letter on Twitter on March 2.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the High School & Beyond blog.