AP program growing despite cuts to incentives
Gov. Rick Perry announced Oct. 15, 2009, that among other improvements to Texas education, he wanted to expand Advanced Placement incentives to 50 additional high schools.
Nationwide, AP classes and exams enable high-school students to earn college credits in math, science, history and other subjects. The Texas Education Agency administers this program for the state.
Perry"s announcement referred to an Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program.
A program by that name is operated by the nonprofit National Math and Science Initiative in Texas, but Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier told us by phone that Perry was not intending to refer to its work and that the state had not sent money to that program. By email, Frazier told us the 2011 Legislature appropriated $13.8 million for the state"s own AP incentives program.
According to Legislative Budget Board spokesman John Barton and TEA reports from Jan. 24, 2011 and Feb. 2, 2011, that was a reduction from the previous budget's $25.7 million for AP incentives, which helped knock $30 off the test fees for AP students, reimbursed districts for teacher training and gave campuses rewards for high exam scores.
A Dec. 5, 2011, TEA letter advised administrators that the 2011 Legislature had restricted the $30 fee breaks to students in financial need and that training and campus award money would not be available for the 2011-12 school year. A May 5, 2012, TEA letter, speaking to the 2012-13 school year, mentions only the $30 fee breaks for eligible students with financial need.
So, state AP incentive funding went down after Perry called for it to go up.
Still, the number of Texas public-school students (11th- and 12th-graders) taking AP tests increased to 194,391 in the 2011-12 school year, according to an Oct. 9, 2012, announcement by Texas education commissioner Michael Williams. That's an 80 percent increase from 2008-09, when TEA reported 108,213 public-school students took AP tests.
College Board reports show the number of Texas public schools offering AP classes rose 9 percent from 1,154 in 2009 to 1,255 in 2012 (101 more campuses).
Both increases outpace the growth in Texas' student body. Overall enrollment rose 4 percent from 2008-09 through 2010-11, and the statewide senior class of 2011 was also about 4 percent larger than the class of 2009, according to TEA data.
NMSI's vice president for Texas, Charlotte Carlisle, confirmed by phone that her organization got no state money. The number of Texas high schools its incentive program can help fluctuates, Carlisle said, based on donations made by corporations and foundations. Incentives went to 56 Texas schools in 2009 and 69 in 2011, she said.
Our conclusion is that while participation in the AP program has evidently grown, this occurred despite a cut in state financial incentives. We rate this a Promise Broken.
Email and telephone interviews with Catherine Frazier, press secretary, Office of Gov. Rick Perry, Nov. 27-29, 2012
Email interviews with Debbie Ratcliffe, communications director, Texas Education Agency, Nov. 19-29, 2012
Email interviews with DeEtta Culbertson, Texas Education Agency information specialist, Nov. 19-29, 2012
Email and telephone interviews with Charlotte Carlisle, National Math and Science Initiative vice president for Texas Nov. 27-30, 2012
Email interview with John Barton, spokesman for staff of Legislative Budget Board, Nov. 29, 2012
Gov. Rick Perry press release, Oct. 15, 2009
Texas Education Agency, AP/IB Incentive Program - Rider 24, Jan. 24, 2011
Texas Education Agency, description of programs and budgets, Feb. 2, 2011
Texas Education Agency, letter to administrators, Dec. 5, 2011
Texas Education Agency, letter to administrators, May 7, 2012
Texas Education Agency, Texas Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate Incentive Program – 2012 Test Fee Subsidies, accessed online Nov. 30, 2012
Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams press release Oct. 9, 2012
Texas Education Agency, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Examination Results in Texas, 2007-08
College Board, School Report of AP Examinations 2008-2009 (By State), accessed online Nov. 30, 2012
College Board, School Report of AP Examinations 2011-2012 (By State), accessed online Nov. 30, 2012
Texas Education Agency, Enrollment Trends, accessed online Nov. 30, 2012
Texas Education Agency, Secondary School Completion and Dropouts in Texas Public Schools 2008-09, accessed online Nov. 30, 2012
Texas Education Agency, Secondary School Completion and Dropouts in Texas Public Schools 2010-11, accessed online Nov. 30, 2012