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University of Iowa News Release

June 6, 2005

UI To Use Grant To Promote Advanced Placement Among Low-Income Students

A three-year federal grant totaling almost $800,000 will allow the Iowa Department of Education (DOE) and the University of Iowa's gifted-education center to promote the use of Advanced Placement (AP) courses and testing among low-income high school students in Iowa.

AP programs give high school students the opportunity to take college-level courses and earn college credit while still in high school.

Last month the U.S. Department of Education announced that the Iowa DOE and the UI's Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development will receive the first grant payment of $260,662 in October. The remainder of the grant will be paid out over the next two years, $264,188 in 2006 and $267,949 in 2007, for a three-year total of $792,799.

The Iowa grant is one of 13 awarded by the U.S. DOE in nine states totaling $7.9 million. Over three years, the department expects to award more than $24 million to promote AP among low-income students.

Funding for the grant comes from the No Child Left Behind Act's AP program, which is designed to increase access to advanced courses for low-income students and increase the achievement of students already enrolled in such programs. Iowa's portion will be used for the Enhancing AP Opportunities for Low-Income Students in Iowa Project, which is led by the Iowa Department of Education and the Belin-Blank Center.

This project will serve teachers and low-income students in 62 of Iowa's 364 public school districts. Low-income districts are defined as those with 40 percent or more students enrolled in the free/reduced lunch program. Program administrators hope to meet two goals by September 2008: to increase the number of low-income students in grades nine to 12 across Iowa who participate and succeed in AP courses through on-site and on-line programs; and to increase the number of low-income students in grades six to eight across Iowa who participate in and succeed in effective pre-AP courses in their schools.

"This project will allow the Department of Education and the Belin-Blank Center to significantly expand their support of low-income students across Iowa," Belin-Blank Director Nicholas Colangelo said. "Our efforts will increase the participation of low-income students in AP and pre-AP activities so that low socioeconomic status is minimized as a barrier to opportunities for academic excellences. This grant will clearly affect the future of all participating low-income students. Low-income students will ultimately use their project experiences both to move on to institutions of higher education and will be better prepared to succeed at the college level."

According to research gathered by the U.S. Department of Education, 40 percent of the nation's high schools do not offer AP courses, and many of these schools serve low-income and minority students.

Additionally, research shows that students who take rigorous courses stand a far greater chance of succeeding in college. Low-income students in particular who take AP courses are much more likely to enroll and be successful in college than their non-participating peers.

For more information about this grant program, contact Rosanne Malek, project director with the Iowa Department of Education, at Rosanne.malek@iowa.gov, or Clar Baldus, Ph.D., project coordinator at the Belin-Blank Center, at clar-baldus@uiowa.edu.

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, stephen-pradarelli@uiowa.edu.