Andover HS receives grants to help college-bound students with test fees

Andover High School has received two grants from the Anoka-Hennepin Educational Foundation (AHEF) to assist students facing economic hardship pay for test fees.

Laurie Peterman, Andover’s professional learning community coordinator (PLCC), applied for the grants on behalf of the school. AHEF is non-profit 501(c)3 organization with the mission of supporting and enriching educational opportunities within the Anoka-Hennepin School District.

“Through student interviews and anecdotal evidence, we are finding more and more students who are opting out of opportunities because economic hardships in their families,” Peterman wrote in the grant. “Since only about 20 percent of the adults in our Anoka-Hennepin community have a college degree, parents may not see spending money for college entrance exams as a priority especially when economic times are tough.”

The first grant, for $5,145, will help students prepare and pay the $34 fee to take the American College Testing (ACT) test which is a standardized test for college admission. The second grant, for $3,700, will help students pay the $87 fee charged for Advance Placement (AP) tests.

Students take AP courses at Andover High School and then can take AP tests related to those courses. Some colleges give students credits for high AP test scores. This not only helps students as they apply to colleges but saves them money in college tuition fees.

In the application for the ACT grant, Peterman said about 80 percent of Andover’s students take the test. The grant will be used to fund 30 scholarships for ACT preparation classes and up to 50 test scholarships. Most students who take the ACT are juniors.

“Providing more students with access to ACT preparation and opportunities for testing will enable more students to see themselves as college students,” Peterman said. “This will increase the college and career readiness of our students.”

Taking rigorous, college-level AP classes, like the 13 offered at Andover High School, helps prepare students for the challenges of college. The courses, designed by the College Board, include an exam, which costs $87.

Peterman said after examining school data, staff found a disparity between the number of AP courses students completed and the number of AP exams completed. When students take multiple AP courses, paying $87 for each test for each course can be a barrier.

“While about 52 percent of our students complete an AP course, only about 36 percent actually complete the exam that can earn them the college credit,” Peterman said. “Our goal this year is to ensure that every student who completes an AP course also completes the AP exam associated with that course.”

Peterman, who has worked for Anoka-Hennepin for many years, has been applying for AHEF grants to assist students since the ‘90s.

“AHEF funds things can fall through the cracks or ideas people have that don’t fit into funding categories,” Peterman said. “They are always receptive to supporting teachers who want to try new things to help students.

“I’ve always found AHEF to be very thoughtful with their funding. They want to make sure they make a difference, but they are not afraid to try something different, like assisting students to pay for ACT and AP exam fees.

“The intent of our grant is to remove barriers and help kids reach their goals and dreams.”