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January 12, 2006

Breakthrough on PSAT and AP in Virginia Beach

After a major effort by the Home School Legal Defense Association and other homeschool families and organizations, Virginia Beach is taking steps to open up AP tests and the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) test to homeschool families.

Last fall, Virginia Beach shut its doors to homeschool students who wanted to take the PSAT. Homeschoolers were shocked, since the legislature had just passed a law requiring school boards to open these tests to homeschool students. Families were left scrambling to find private schools that were willing and able to accommodate them.

The ensuing reaction was not enough to correct the problem before the October administration of the PSAT, but school system officials listened. As a result, processes were put in motion to end the unjust exclusion of homeschool students.

We recently received word that school system administrative personnel are currently working to establish times, dates and locations for homeschool students to take the AP tests this spring and the PSAT next October. We are cautiously optimistic that Virginia Beach families won't have to scramble again.

AP and PSAT tests are important to homeschoolers. Many universities award 3 college credit hours, or at least credit toward satisfying their subject area requirements, to a matriculating student who scores a 3, 4 or 5 (depending on the university) on an AP test. Because the 32 AP tests are uniform nationwide, they are highly credible additions to a homeschooler's high school transcript. Usually students take a course oriented toward the AP test (an AP course) in preparation for the AP test, although this is not required.

While PSAT scores are never sent to colleges, some colleges offer very generous scholarships to students who achieve the required score and are named National Merit Finalists (about the top 1.5%).