Fairfax County students no longer have to pay for A.P. tests

By Kevin Sieff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 16, 2011; 10:07 PM

Fairfax County schools will no longer require students to pay for Advanced Placement exams, in response to a ruling by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II that called such fees illegal.

Fairfax Superintendent Jack D. Dale announced last year that the district would charge students for the tests, which cost about $75 each, as a cost-saving measure during difficult financial times. But last month, Cuccinelli (R) ruled that state law does not allow schools to mandate the fee, and elementary and secondary education is generally required to be free.

The Fairfax school board will be given the option of refunding exam fees collected this school year or lifting the requirement that A.P. students take the exams, district spokesman Paul Regnier said.

Fairfax students are required to take A.P. exams to receive credit for such courses. In 2010, 15,439 Fairfax students took 32,230 of the exams. The exams would cost the district more than $2 million.

Officials in Loudoun County - where students sacrifice one point on their grade point averages if they don't take A.P. tests, although the exams are technically not required - are contemplating their own response to Cuccinelli's ruling.

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