This post is part of our series on Iowa Online Advanced Placement Academy courses for middle school students. To read the entire series, click here.
When seeking to add IOAPA courses to your school’s curriculum, there are many questions that teachers and administrators have about how IOAPA courses will fit within the existing school structure (for a more in-depth look at common issues related to developing a middle school IOAPA program, check out our past blog series). Often, teachers and administrators struggle to define how middle school IOAPA courses fit within curriculum standards through the Iowa Core, and occasionally, this causes some resistance to providing challenging courses for middle school students. To answer this question for their administration, teachers may have to carefully review the Apex courses and Iowa Core standards in order to identify how these courses align.
How do I find out what Apex courses include?
Apex provides a list of their course offerings that are sorted by state. Once you select the course of interest, you can download the syllabus and explore how it compares to the standards set by your school. If your school has already participated in IOAPA courses, you can also search the standards that align with each course by logging into Apex, selecting Reports from the Menu and then clicking on the Correlations button.
What if the courses do not align with my school standards?
In some cases, our IOAPA courses may fulfill most, but not all of your school’s standards for similar courses. There can be many reasons for this—one common one is that the advanced coursework may eliminate instruction typical for introductory courses. For many gifted students who take accelerated courses, this is not an issue, but for schools, the question of how to document that gifted students have met the requirements for these standards can be challenging. However, lack of alignment with standards should not be a reason to avoid providing these options for high ability students. Teachers can often find creative ways to ensure that students have met all the requirements of both courses, such as requiring an additional final project, a portfolio of the work completed, or a review by other teachers with expertise in the content area (see this post for examples of what this might look like). When teachers and administrators are willing to be creative and collaborate on providing opportunities for high ability students, everyone benefits.
What if the answer is still no?
If school administrators do not feel that course requirements can be met through the options described above, students may still be able to benefit from these courses. In these instances, we recommend that schools consider offering middle school IOAPA courses as part of their talented and gifted programming, as independent study options, or another elective approach. This gives students the opportunity to be challenged by above-level coursework in addition to exposure to the online course model, even if they’re not receiving credit.
For more questions about IOAPA for middle school students, check out our blog series on how to implement middle school IOAPA courses or our website.
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