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Story - Education

Feb 16, 2010 6:52 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton School Board considers charging students for test preparation courses

Feb 16, 2010 6:52 PM

As the East Hampton School Board discusses the 2010-2011 school year budget, which is set to be finalized in April, it is considering the possibility of making students and their parents pay for SAT preparation courses and Advanced Placement exams.

The SAT exam is the standardized test required for admittance to most colleges and universities, and by all State University of New York institutions. Advanced Placement exams are the culmination of year-long college-level courses offered in the high school. A high score on one of these exams could qualify a student for college credit depending on the receiving institution.

Board member Stephen Talmage said at the February 9 meeting that footing the bill for these exams and prep courses costs the district, and therefore the taxpayers, $110,000 a year.

“As a board, we are open to the possibility of changing these policies and will talk about it at the next budget meeting,” he said.

Board member Wendy Hall said East Hampton is an “extremely generous” district and also doesn’t charge families for musical instruments, sports participation or driver’s education classes.

“I think we need to examine these things and compare ourselves to other districts,” she said.

Theresa Grimaldi, district director of reporting and assessment, who prepared a report for the board on student test scores, said most neighboring districts did not pay for the same programs that East Hampton does.

After the board reviewed the test scores, board member Laura Anker-Grossman said she was disappointed that the scores were generally low, despite the fact that many students were taking preparatory courses, and that the majority of the students who took both the SATs and AP exams did not receive scores that would get them into most SUNY schools. At Old Westbury, for example, she said the average score accepted is about a 1,040 for just two parts of the three-part exam, the math and the English. According to Ms. Grimaldi’s report, the average East Hampton student received a 1,500, but Ms. Anker-Grossman said that score was based on all three sections, which also includes essay writing. So on average, that could break down to a score of only about 1,000 average in any two subjects, she said.

She said the board has been paying for these services because she said board members assumed many students would not be able to afford them. Sitting for one AP exam costs $86, according to the College Board, the organization that administers the 
exams; and SAT prep courses vary by provider, but Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, a popular standardized 
test preparation center, costs about 
$500 er student, according to its website.

“I can’t justify this amount of money for the taxpayers for programs that don’t seem to be really working,” she said.

Cutting the cost may not necessarily mean getting rid of the entire expense, said Ms. Grimaldi. She said the Hampton Bays and Sag Harbor school districts have each worked out different agreements with their students. For example, a student might pay for the first test and the district could pay for all subsequent tests.

“It doesn’t have to be all or nothing,” she said.

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East Hampton has no business paying for these courses and exams. Never did.

How many students were even taking advantage of the $110,000 per year cost? My guesstimate (35% of high school seniors go to 2/4 years of college) would be around 100 students at best, meaning a cost of $1,000 per student. Not fair to the others. What a joke?
By voter (33), Amagansett on Feb 21, 10 11:06 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By setyoufree (69), Sag Harbor on Feb 21, 10 8:50 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By lablover (104), Southampton on Feb 22, 10 9:02 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By setyoufree (69), Sag Harbor on Feb 22, 10 12:07 PM