Bastrop Independent School District makes decision to end Advanced Placement incentives program

Alex Mitchell, Editor in Chief

As of this fall, BISD has decided to eliminate AP incentives within the district due to reallocation of funds to various other locations.

This was a budget decision communicated to campuses from the BISD Curriculum and Instruction department,” Principal Bradley Brown said.

For the past 3 years BISD has encouraged students to take Advanced Placement tests through their use of incentives. The incentives consisted of when a student obtained a three on any AP exam, they were reimbursed for the cost of the exam, and then given an additional $100 for each point higher than a three (with a max of an additional $200). This policy drove many students to not only take an AP exam that they normally may not take, but also prepare more for their tests.

“I’ve taken every AP exam available to me in the past two years,” junior Kallye Nutt said. “But this year, I have decided to only take about half of the tests available to me. Without the AP incentives, taking the test is not worth it for me, and I would be wasting around $400. For example, certain tests I know I could make a 3 or above, so then the extra money I got from those could’ve technically paid for my other tests I may have not done as well on. But with no incentives, I can’t ensure if I would be wasting my money or not.”

The revoking of this popular program has caused an uproar throughout the student body. Many previous and current AP students have brought up complaints about the removal of incentives, and the lack of communication about the decision.

“If it would’ve been communicated to me earlier that AP incentives were no longer in effect, I would’ve taken ACC classes instead of AP,” junior Reagan Ferem said. “But since it wasn’t I am stuck in an AP class that I’m not even taking the test for. Because BISD didn’t effectively inform the student body, I was ultimately cheated out of a college credit.”

BISD used up to $90,000 from their budget to give these incentives to students last year, but instead of continuing that, they have moved this money to hiring new teachers throughout the district.Therefore, they’re still putting this money towards the students through the improvement of their education.

“When speaking to Mr.Edwards about the AP incentives, he compared the money used for incentives to be equal to two teachers salaries,” junior Zoey Croft said. “I think a lot of us students didn’t realize all the money they put into incentives for both students and teachers.”

BHS plans to make up for the decrease in students taking AP exams by emphasizing the money saved by taking the test. AP tests generally are $97 each, which is substantially less than an average college class. Therefore students are able to obtain a college credit for an extremely lower price than it normally would be.

“The AP program provides college credit for a fraction of the cost of the completed college courses,” Brown said. “For example one three credit hour course at ACC would cost in excess of $1700 including fees, textbooks and tuition. Students who take dual credit courses also have expenses including textbooks and online course software that can cost upwards of $100. The AP exams remains a good value for comparable college level credit by other means with the rigor needed to help prepare students for college and/or a career.”

UPDATE: After many complaints and grievances, the BISD school board has decided to bring back the incentives program in a different fashion. Instead of putting extra money into the picture, this year they will reimburse students that get a 3, 4 or 5 on their AP test. The conversation began with many comments from students and staff, but was truly brought to question when junior Zoey Croft sent a professional, well written email to Mr.Edwards and the school board addressing the issue and presenting the solution of at least reimbursing students.