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University of Iowa News Release


June 19, 2008

UI's Belin-Blank Center Holds AP Conference June 24 in Des Moines

The Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development (Belin-Blank Center) will hold Iowa's first statewide leadership conference on Advanced Placement (AP) programs, Tuesday, June 24 in Des Moines.

The Governor's Conference on AP, to be held at the Polk County Convention Complex, will provide information to administrators, school board members, and other education decision-makers, on ways to introduce, expand or enhance AP into their curriculum. The goal is for all Iowa high school students to have the opportunity to succeed on an AP exam. The State of Iowa Legislature appropriated the funds to sponsor the conference.

The Belin-Blank Center and the Iowa Department of Education have partnered to enhance the AP program in Iowa, resulting in significant increase in AP participation. In 2000, Iowa was 45th in the nation in AP school participation; currently Iowa ranks 26th.

Perhaps the most significant influence in the dramatic change in numbers has been the establishment of the Iowa Online AP Academy. Administered by the Belin-Blank Center, the Online Academy offers online AP courses to all Iowa schools and students. "When it comes to AP in Iowa, geography will not dictate opportunity," said Belin-Blank Center Director Nicholas Colangelo. For information about the Iowa Online Academy, go to

AP courses, one of the oldest and most recognized academic offerings, provide college-level coursework to high school students. AP exams have become a nationally recognized standard of academic excellence and indicators of preparation for college and university. High scores on the AP exams often provide students with college credit or placement.

The Governor's Conference on AP will include opening remarks from Iowa Governor Chet Culver, as well as speakers from the Belin-Blank Center, Iowa Department of Education, University of Iowa College of Education and Office of Admissions, The College Board and the National Governors Association.

"The keynote speakers are nationally recognized and bring an inspiring message," said Clar Baldus, coordinator of the Governor's Conference, and Belin-Blank Center administrator.

Joyce Elliot, the director of legislative and State Outreach for the Southwest Region of the College Board, will speak on "AP for All Students:  The Democratization of Rigorous Preparedness."  Elliot is a former state representative and remains active in politics.

Superintendent Terry Grier will present on how his educational mantra, "AP for the prepared, not the elite," has set Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, N.C. as national leaders in increasing academic rigor for its high school students.

David Wakelyn, a Senior Policy Analyst at the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, will describe his lessons learned while helping reform and expand high school access to Advanced Placement courses in six states.

"Not only do AP students receive intense instruction that will help them find success in post-secondary settings, it also allows them to interact, discuss and share insight with likeminded individuals," Baldus said. "Advanced Placement opens many doors for high achieving students and teaches them critical and analytic thinking skills that they may apply to both academics and real-world scenarios. AP tests are a form of acceleration. We believe students deserve and need the challenges that fit what they are ready to learn. Why hold them back?"

Governor Chet Culver, U.S. Senator Charles Grassley, U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, Iowa legislature, the School Administrators of Iowa, Iowa Association of School Boards, Iowa State  Education Association, Iowa School Counselors Association, Iowa Gifted and Talented Association, UI College of Education, and UI Office of Admissions have endorsed the conference.  The conference is by invitation only; cost for registration fees, materials, and conference meals are covered.

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

CONTACTS: Nicholas Colangelo, Belin-Blank Center, 319-335-6148,; Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070, ,