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February 9, 2007

Jamestown Reverses Policy on AP Test

An HSLDA member family in the Jamestown High School district wanted to sign their son up for the Advanced Placement (AP) test in macroeconomics. They talked to the head of the school’s guidance department in mid-January, but he said he did not know if they would allow it since no other student was taking that particular AP test, and the school would need to hire a proctor for just the one student.

The family called back the following week for an update. The head of the guidance department was equivocal. They called back the next week and were still denied an unequivocal answer.

Sensing that the school might be getting ready to refuse to allow their son to take the test, the family called Home School Legal Defense Association for help.

HSLDA attorney Scott Woodruff faxed a letter to the chairman of the school board, the school board’s attorney, and the head guidance counselor. His letter explained that under a law enacted last year, school boards must make AP tests available to homeschool students.

He said the new law does not permit school boards to refuse to make a test available on the ground that only one student is taking the test. He pointed out that the cost of hiring a proctor was trivial compared to what the family pays to support a public school system they do not use.

He reminded them that this must be resolved promptly, since AP tests are only offered once per year, and the deadline for schools to order the tests is approaching quickly. He pointed out that the student would be irreparably harmed if the school continued to drag its feet. He also notified the state Department of Education about the situation.

Within two days, the head guidance counselor called the family and confirmed that their son could take the AP macroeconomics test—even if he was the only one.

AP tests, with their rigorous standards and uniform content, have earned near-universal respect among colleges and universities. A good score on one of these demanding tests establishes that the student is well qualified within the nationwide group of students who took the test. Many institutions offer college credit for a score that is high enough. The College Board offers AP tests in over 32 subjects once a year in the spring.

Although AP tests are not for everyone, they can be an important part of a homeschool family’s overall strategy for college preparation. This is why HSLDA and other Virginia homeschool organizations worked hard last year to obtain passage of the law that requires school boards to make the tests available.

 Other Resources

Homeschooling Thru High School: Testing

House Bill 1588: Opens PSAT and AP Examinations to Homeschoolers