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University of Iowa News Release

Dec. 2, 2004

UI Gets Online AP Grant While Program Participation Soars

The University of Iowa has received a $1.45 million federal grant to further promote the use of Online Advanced Placement (AP) courses and tests in Iowa schools, an effort that continues to make huge inroads in the state's rural districts.

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, helped secure the funds for the Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA), which is run by the UI's Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. This latest grant brings to $6.45 million the amount of federal support Harkin has secured for IOAPA since the academy's creation in 2001.

"Iowa Online AP Academy contributes greatly to providing challenging coursework for Iowa students, particularly those in rural communities," Harkin said. "The best way to ensure a prosperous future for Iowa communities is to provide all of our kids with the best possible education. With this funding, the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa can continue to work toward discovering and developing the academic talents of Iowa high school students."

The federal funding helps cover tuition costs for students taking AP courses and exams and for teachers trained through the academy. The program's focus is on rural and small schools in Iowa, although it is available to any accredited public and private school in Iowa.

Nicholas Colangelo, director of the Belin-Blank Center, said the latest figures show that the funding is helping ensure that every Iowa student capable of taking college-level courses can do so.

"In Iowa, geography should not determine opportunity," he said.

Data from The College Board, which publishes AP course materials and tests, show that in the 2003-2004 academic year, Iowa participation in Online AP programs increased at double the rate of the national average. Based on the number of AP exams taken per 1,000 junior and senior high school students, Iowa participation jumped 6 percent from the previous year, compared with a 3 percent increase nationally.

Additionally, Iowa continues to climb in state rankings for the percentage of schools with access to AP. Iowa ranked 35th among the states in 2003-2004, marking the fifth consecutive year that the state has moved up the list by more than one position.

To put this in perspective, in the past five years, AP participation by Iowa high schools has increased 38 percent, while the national increase has been only 9 percent.

Not only are more students taking Online AP courses -- they're scoring well on the tests. In 2004, Iowa students ranked eighth in the nation on scores, with 69.2 percent scoring a level 3 or better on AP exams. Scores can range from 1 to 5, but most universities won't offer college credit unless a student scored at least 3 on the exam.

"This is a very strong endorsement of Iowa and the Online AP Academy," said David Gupta, chief educational manager, K-12, The College Board's Midwestern Region. "We have changed and continue to change the educational terrain of Iowa when it comes to AP in very large part because of the Online AP Academy."

Judy Jeffrey, director of the Iowa Department of Education, agreed.

"The assistance and support provided to educators across Iowa from the University of Iowa has provided the 'jump-start' needed to increase AP participation by Iowa students," Jeffrey said.

IOAPA makes it possible for students from every high school in Iowa, especially those in rural areas, to take AP courses online or over the Iowa Communications Network (ICN). It also provides training and support to educators across the state who are teaching, or who want to teach, AP courses.

AP allows students to take college-level courses while in high school so they can advance more quickly when they sufficiently understand a subject area. It can also save students the cost of tuition they would otherwise pay to take the courses in college. Furthermore, research shows that students who participate in AP courses are more likely to go on to college and complete a four-year degree.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Media: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,