CHESHIRE -- The Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee will look into a procedure that requires students to pay upfront for Advanced Placement class exams.
The committee and Superintendent Kristen Gordon heard complaints about the policy from two parents at a meeting Monday night.
The district currently requires students who wish to take Advanced Placement (AP) classes pay the $89 testing fee at the beginning of the school year.
Students are not allowed to opt out of the test. As Committee Chair Paul Butler noted Monday, there is not currently an alternative to the AP exam to serve as a final exam in AP classes.
Many colleges offer credit to students who have high scores on AP exams.
Donna Gale, a parent, asked the committee why students couldn't take an AP class without taking the AP test.
Gale said that a student should be able to decide, later in the school year, whether he or she should take the test. She pointed out circumstances that could result in a student not being prepared for the AP exam, such as a teacher's extended absence due to illness.
"That does not allow a student to be properly taught throughout the year," Gale said.
Superintendent Kristen Gordon said that "the jury is kind of split" on the issue. She said that some argue the AP class doesn't serve its purpose without the associated test, while others believe it should be the student's choice.
Gordon did agree that the district could make it more clear to parents that there are payment options available. The fee can be waived for students whose parents are below a certain income threshold.
Gordon spoke to roughly a dozen AP students, she said, and about 80 percent of them told her the AP exam should be a requirement.
The committee understands both sides of the debate, according to Gordon.
"This is the first time it's really been brought to them," Gordon said.
The district has been trying to participate in the Massachusetts Math and Science Initiative, a state and privately-funded program that seeks to increase student enrollment in AP classes. The district was slated to take part this year, but Gordon said the funding was cut.
Fees could be paid if the district is awarded funding through the program next year, but all AP students would be required to take the exam.
In addition to the test fees, Gale also questioned the qualification process of AP teachers.
Gordon responded that she could not speak to the process before she was brought on as superintendent last year, but that she is "confident" that the appropriate staff was teaching AP classes this year.
To reach Adam Shanks, email