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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 3, 2004

UI's Online Advanced Placement Academy Gets $1.5 Million Boost

More Iowa high school students -- particularly in rural areas -- will have access to online Advanced Placement classes thanks to $1.5 million in additional federal funding secured by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

The funds are earmarked for the Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA), which is run by the University of Iowa's Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. This latest funding boost brings to $5 million the amount of federal support that Harkin has secured for IOAPA since the academy's creation in 2001.

Harkin secured the funding as the ranking Democrat on the panel that funds education initiatives.

"This program contributes greatly to providing challenging coursework for Iowa students, particularly for those in rural communities," Harkin said. "With this funding, the Online AP Academy can work toward increasing the opportunities to discover and develop academic talent for rural Iowa high school students."

AP courses give high school students the opportunity to take college-level courses and earn college credit while still in high school. The Iowa Online AP Academy was established to expand high school student participation in AP courses across the state using Apex Learning online technology and the Iowa Communication Network (ICN), to support pre-AP curriculum and to train AP teachers and mentors.

The focus for the program is on rural and small schools in Iowa, although it is available to any accredited public and private school in Iowa.

The federal funding, administered through the U.S. and Iowa departments of education, helps cover tuition costs for students and teachers registered through the academy.

This fall, nearly 300 schools in Iowa are participating in the program and more than 650 students are enrolled this fall in online and ICN AP classes, up from 462 students enrolled in IOAPA courses in fall 2003.

"The Iowa Online AP Academy has been a remarkable success since it's inception three years ago," said Nicholas Colangelo, Ph.D., director of the Belin-Blank Center. "Because of the Academy, Iowa has been ranked among the very top states in the nation in percentage of increase in AP in schools. When it comes to AP, geography does not determine opportunity in Iowa."

He added, "I gratefully acknowledge the outstanding support of Senator Harkin."

Harkin has been a long-time supporter of the Belin-Blank Center. In addition to securing more than $5 million for IOAPA, Harkin helped launch the center's popular Invent Iowa program, which encourages K-12 students to create and enter into competitions inventions that seek to make life better for people.

Educators who want more information about upcoming AP course offerings, or who want to learn how to participate in the program, may visit or may contact IOAPA Administrator Clar Baldus, Ph.D. at 1-800-336-6463, or via e-mail at

The Belin-Blank Center, established in 1988, specializes in programming and research to meet the educational needs of exceptionally talented children and their teachers. The Center conducts an extensive roster of talent searches, precollege programs, teacher training workshops and counseling programs.

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,