A House education committee heard a pitch today from an employee of the College Board, the company that produces the SAT and Advanced Placement tests, about a plan to have the state pay students' test fees and pay teachers a bonus for each student that scores 3 or higher on tests.
Students who score 3 or higher on AP tests can usually earn college credit for their courses.
David Gupta, executive director of the Florida Partnership of the College Board, talked about how the program has worked in Florida since it was adopted in 2000.
AP test-taking has increased rapidly there, from about 66,000 tests in 2000 to 278,720 tests in 2010. AP test-taking expanded 17 percent a year in the first three years. The state has more scores of 3 or higher.
Florida is the only state with a program of this kind, Gupta said.
In North Carolina, AP test-taking expanded about 4.3 percent a year over the last decade.
Estimated costs for North Carolina students' tests ranged from about $4.4 million to about $5 million in 2012-2013, depending on how many students participate. Teacher bonus costs range from about $3 million to $3.3 million. Bonuses would be capped at $2,000 a teacher.
Florida also pays additional costs for professional development, student assessments, and other services.
Raising the percentage of students who successfully complete AP courses means more will have college credit when the graduate from high school, said Rep. Hugh Blackwell, a co-chairman of the House Select Committee on Education Reform.
The Florida numbers illustrate across-the-board growth, including among Hispanic and African-American students, said Blackwell, a Burke County Republican.
Legislators will have many requests for education money: Governor's School alumni want the summer enrichment program reinstated. Likewise, the Teaching Fellows program wants to survive. School districts want cuts already built into next year's budget reduced.
Legislators will have to decide whether the AP program is more promising than something else the state is paying for, Blackwell said.
"I don't know if we'll find the money," he said. "It seems to me a very positive sort of thing."