As legislation that would allow home-school students to play public school sports has been debated again in the Kentucky General Assembly without resolution, some home school families are hoping to resolve whether Fayette County Public Schools will continue to offer Advanced Placement tests and other exams to home-school students.
High school students take Advanced Placement courses and tests to get college credit and to be competitive for college admissions and scholarships. Home school parents in Fayette County say that under rules from the College Board that distributes the tests, their children must take the Advanced Placement tests at schools. The website for the College Board says, “Because parents and students cannot order exams directly, the AP Program encourages schools to assist home-schooled students and students whose schools do not offer AP courses and exams.”
This year, some Lexington home-school parents with high school age children had to schedule Advanced Placement tests at public and private schools in Berea, Frankfort, Glasgow and even Cincinnati while Fayette County school district officials considered whether to continue to offer home-school students the opportunity to take the tests.
Superintendent Manny Caulk said Friday that he is committed to finding a long-term solution for families who choose to home-school their children so that such students can have access to AP tests. But officials don’t know yet what that will be.
“As a district, we will meet with interested parties to work towards a long-term solution,” Caulk said. “However, our immediate goal is to work with our home-school families and students to make sure they have access to a testing site this May.”
In the past, individual Fayette County high school staff allowed home-school students to take Advanced Placement tests with parents paying the fee, which they say is about $95 per test.
Peggy Hayes, Fayette County district assessment coordinator, said in a statement to the Herald-Leader that at one point this school year, the district had decided not to extend that privilege to home schools or private schools “and had communicated that expectation to our counselors.”
“Advanced Placement Testing is a service the district provides at our schools to the students who are enrolled there. There are costs and liabilities associated with AP testing that we invest in for the benefit of our students. There is no requirement or obligation for public schools to test home-school students,” she said.
When district officials found that the new decision was inconsistent “with past practices” they said that home-school students could continue to take Advanced Placement tests this spring. But some home-school families say the decision came too late for them to reschedule.
Home-school families wanting to take the tests this spring can contact Fayette County’s Department of Pupil Personnel.
Elizabeth Lin of Lexington said she scheduled tests for her children two and a half hours away in Barren County Public Schools in Glasgow on four separate days because registration deadlines were approaching and she didn’t know whether they would be able to take them in Fayette County. Her children take online classes through the Barren district. She said it is too late for her children to reschedule in Fayette County Schools this year.
Sudha Chopra said she scheduled tests for her daughter at private schools in Frankfort and Lexington during the time district had suspended them for home-school students. Chopra was happy to hear that Fayette County school officials are working on a resolution and have agreed to give home-school students the tests in the spring, but she said her daughter will keep her test appointment at the private schools at this point.
“We’re not asking for anything out of the way,” Chopra said. “There shouldn’t be any contention over this.”
Julie Lindemuth scheduled tests for her sons at a public school in Berea and at a public and a private school in Cincinnati.
Benjamin, her oldest, has been accepted to Vanderbilt University where he plans to attend in the fall of 2017. Joseph is a 10th-grader. Lindemuth said Fayette County schools counselors had let her sons take tests they need, such as the PSAT and Advanced Placement tests, in the past.
After district officials notified her that home-school students were going to be able take the tests through the district this spring, Lindemuth re-registered Benjamin and Joseph for three of the tests they need in Fayette County. She’s waiting for the long-term resolution that Caulk said he will work out.
In addition to Joseph, she said her younger children, ages 13 and 10, might take AP classes when they reach the appropriate grade in high school.
Lindemuth said she has also had trouble scheduling the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, a qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship at Fayette Public Schools. It is given on a national date and time. Lindemuth said it’s been her experience that a school can choose to only give it to their students.
“If I want for my home-schooled student to take the PSAT, I have to call around to schools and have one agree to test my student along with their students,” she said.
“While I understand that the public-school system does not feel obligated to home-schoolers, I do pay the same school tax as everyone else,” she said.
Lindemuth said at a minimum, she pays $1,200 in taxes to Fayette County Public Schools each year.
“My hope is that Fayette County Public Schools will work together with home-schoolers to provide services such as AP testing that must be done through the school system,” said Lindemuth. “That we can truly work together to allow all students to achieve high levels of education.”