Category Archives: Advanced Placement

APTTI Registration Is Open!

Attention, educators: Are you interested in expanding your school’s AP offerings and developing an AP culture at your school? Come join us on the University of Iowa campus June 26-30, 2018 to become certified to teach an AP course.

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We will be offering workshops for AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Chemistry, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Physics, AP U.S. Government and Politics, and AP U.S. History. Visit our website to learn more.

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Registration is now open, and financial assistance is available from the College Board, and for Iowa teachers through an IOAPA grant.

We look forward to seeing you this summer!

 

 

Using Above-Level Testing to Connect Talented Students with Challenging Coursework

As you may know, the Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) and the Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS) have teamed up to provide identification and programming services to help Iowa teachers find talented students and develop their abilities. For more on how BESTS and IOAPA work together, check out our IOAPA-BESTS blog roundup.

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In order to use this year’s above-level testing scores to inform eligibility for next year’s IOAPA courses, now is the time to being the above-level testing process. There are four basic steps for participation in BESTS.

  1. Find the students who are ready for additional challenge; these are the students who will be recommended for participation in BESTS. Typically, students who have earned scores at or above the 90th percentile on grade-level standardized tests, such as the Iowa Assessments, are strong candidates for above-level testing.
  2. Notify the students identified in Step 2 and their families about the opportunity to participate in BESTS.
  3. Contact assessment@belinblank.org as soon as possible to set up testing. Note that if you have 7th-9th grade students in need of above-level testing, they will be taking the ACT, and there are specific deadlines for registration; visit belinblank.org/talent-search for specific information. I-Excel testing sessions for current 4th-6th graders are more flexible to schedule, but it’s still important to reach out soon to ensure that the process can be completed in time for your desired test date(s).
  4. Inform students and parents about test results and the recommended course of action following testing.

Through generous grant funding, IOAPA is able to provide FREE above-level testing for Iowa 5th grade students. Simply mention IOAPA when requesting testing to access this opportunity for your 5th grade students.

A new research project at the Belin-Blank Center, the Talent Identification and Career Exploration (TICE) project, is currently seeking Iowa middle schools with whom to partner to identify and serve talented underrepresented students. Students at TICE partner schools would receive financial and technical support to test high-ability 6th graders and offer a career intervention program during 7th grade. If you are interested in applying to become a TICE school, fill out the online application (https://uiowa.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1QSZO3Zblbhp5op) or contact javits@belinblank.org.

Everything You Need to Know About 2018 AP Exams

With the spring semester well underway, many AP students and teachers are beginning to count down to the big exam. This post will present information about AP Exam logistics, including the schedule, ordering and costs, and exam accommodations. Stay tuned to the blog for a future post on motivating students to take AP Exams.

The Schedule

A full AP Exam schedule is available on the College Board website. A summary of exam dates for IOAPA courses is presented below. All morning exams begin at 8:00am, and all afternoon exams begin at 12:00pm unless otherwise indicated.

AP Biology: Monday, May 14 – Morning
AP Calculus AB: Tuesday, May 15 – Morning
AP Chemistry: Monday, May 7 – Morning
AP Computer Science A: Tuesday, May 15 – Afternoon
AP Computer Science Principles: Friday, May 11 – Afternoon
AP English Language and Composition: Wednesday, May 16 – Morning
AP English Literature and Composition: Wednesday, May 9 – Morning
AP Environmental Science: Thursday, May 10 – Afternoon
AP Macroeconomics: Wednesday, May 16 – Afternoon
AP Microeconomics: Friday, May 18 – Morning
AP Psychology: Monday, May 7 – Afternoon
AP Spanish Language and Culture: Tuesday, May 8 – Morning
AP Statistics: Thursday, May 17 – Afternoon
AP US Government and Politics: Thursday, May 10 – Morning
AP US History: Friday, May 11 – Morning

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Exam Ordering and Costs

Students (generally with advice from teachers, parents, school counselors, or other school personnel) are responsible for deciding whether to take AP Exam(s) for the courses in which they enrolled. Schools are responsible for ordering those exams from the College Board for all students who indicate intent to complete exams. The priority deadline for ordering AP Exams is March 30th. All AP Exams must be ordered no later than April 20, 2018. Orders placed after April 13, 2018, will incur late fees. More information about specific procedures for ordering exams is available from the College Board.

Different states and schools handle exam fees differently. In general, for 2018 exams most students will pay the school $94 per exam. The College Board offers reduced-fee exams for students with financial need; these students generally pay the school $53 per exam. Further information can be found on the College Board website. Additional financial assistance may be available through federal and state funding. Federal funding for AP Exams has changed with the authorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act, with funds previously devoted to the AP Test Fee Program now being consolidated into a new Title IV, Part A block grant. Districts and/or states can use these funds to subsidize exam fees for economically disadvantaged students; check with your school to find out what assistance is available in your district.

Exam Accommodations

Students with disabilities who wish to take AP Exams with accommodations must submit a request to the College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD). This process changed slightly last year, and you can visit our previous post on this topic for more details. For 2018 exams, requests for accommodations must be made by February 23.

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As the AP Exams approach, keep an eye on our blog and our Twitter (@belinblankIOAPA) for helpful tips!

 

Getting Started With IOAPA Edhesive Courses

Early in the semester, it can be challenging to know how best to get started with IOAPA courses. We’ve put together step-by-step instructions to help anyone who may be struggling to get started. We’d also recommend saving this post for future reference, as it will be useful at the start of each semester.

  1. Register your students through IOAPA.
  2. Look for an email from Edhesive containing specific instructions on setting up your Teacher account and familiarizing yourself with the course materials.
    1. NOTE: If the person who registered the students is not the person who will be mentoring the course, send an email to info@edhesive.com and CC ioapa@belinblank.org explaining the situation. Be sure to include your name, email, and school name. If you know the Section Token assigned to the course(s) you intend to mentor, include that as well.
  3. After you have created and logged into your Teacher account, visit the Help section and click through the Support materials. You may especially want to look at the suggestions regarding course pacing in the “Customizing YOUR Course” section.
    1. We strongly recommend viewing all the support materials, as they are full of information that will maximize your students’ success with Edhesive courses.
  4. Visit the Teacher Forum and set up your Piazza account. See this post for more information on using the Teacher Forum.
  5. Send the step-by-step instructions for enrolling AND the Section Token (both included in the original email from Edhesive) to the registered students so they can enroll themselves in your section of the course.
  6. Verify with students that they are enrolled and can access the course. Return to your Edhesive teacher account and visit the gradebook to ensure that you can see enrolled students’ progress.

Don’t hesitate to contact us at ioapa@belinblank.org with questions. Other useful sources of information related to IOAPA Computer Science courses include the Edhesive Teacher Forum, the Edhesive blog, our IOAPA Twitter account (@belinblankIOAPA), and the Edhesive Twitter account (@TeamEdhesive). Keep following our blog to stay up to date on all things IOAPA!

 

Financial Assistance for AP Summer Institutes

Though nothing about the current weather suggests that it’s time to start thinking about summer, the quickly-approaching deadlines for the College Board AP Summer Institute scholarships suggest otherwise.

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Each year, the College Board offers a number of scholarships to support teachers in attending an Advanced Placement Summer Institute (APSI). AP Summer Institutes provide subject-specific training for teachers who are interested in teaching an AP course. Summer Institutes can also support current teachers of AP courses seeking to further develop their skills, or gain familiarity with a redesigned version of the course (such as the 2018-2019 redesign of AP US Government and Politics). There are APSIs all around the country, including a College Board-approved APSI on the University of Iowa campus (AP Teacher Training Institute; www.belinblank.org/aptti).

Scholarships offered by the College Board include the AP Fellows Program for teachers at schools serving minority or low-income students, the AP Rural Fellows Program for teachers at rural schools, the AP Redesign Scholarship for teachers of the AP US Government and Politics course, and the AP Capstone Scholarship for teachers of the AP Capstone course. Additional details and application materials are available on the College Board’s website.

The deadline to apply for these scholarships is February 15, 2018, so if you’re considering attending an AP Summer Institute, apply today!

The AP Teacher Training Institute (APTTI) also offers a grant for Iowa teachers to defray the cost of tuition. See our website for more details.

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Making Objective Decisions about Students Taking Advanced Courses

As 2017 comes to a close, you may be starting to think about planning for next year. Maybe you have students who have already mastered the classroom curriculum, and you’re not sure how to keep them challenged and engaged. Perhaps your district is trying to identify students who are ready for additional challenge. Or maybe you have students interested in taking advanced courses, but you’re not sure if they would qualify, or what classes they should take. Above-level testing can help with all of these issues.

Looking back on this year, one of our most exciting developments has been the partnership between the Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) and the Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS), our above-level testing program. We’ve rounded up some of the posts we’ve shared over the past several months for use in implementing BESTS and IOAPA for your high ability students.

The Best-Kept Secret in Gifted Education: Above-Level TestingThis post offers an excellent overview of the theory and research behind above-level testing.

Helping Iowa Teachers Discover Students Who Are Ready for Advanced Online Courses — This post summarizes the connection between BESTS and IOAPA and provides steps for implementation.

I’m Ready to Set Up I-Excel Testing for This Year: Where Do I Start? — Specific steps for setting up I-Excel are included in this post.

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My 4th-6th Grade Students are Taking I-Excel Soon: How Do I Help Them Get Ready? — Guidelines for preparing students for an above-level test are discussed.

Have Your 7th-9th Graders Registered to Take the ACT? — This post includes useful information about using the ACT as an above-level test for 7th through 9th grade students. Current information about fees, test session dates, and registration deadlines can be found at www.belinblank.org/talent-search.

Discovering Talented Students: Using Content-Area Scores for IOAPA Eligibility — Specific guidelines for determining eligibility for IOAPA courses are presented here.

Making Sense of Test Scores This post provides an overview of IDEAL Solutions® for STEM Acceleration.

We hope these posts are useful as you begin preparing to implement BESTS and IOAPA for the 2018-2019 school year. Feel free to visit belinblank.org/talent-search and belinblank.org/ioapa for more information on the programs, or email assessment@belinblank.org or ioapa@belinblank.org with additional questions.

ICYMI – When IOAPA Staff are Stretched Thin

As you begin to wrap up one semester and plan for the next, we hope this information, originally published in January 2016, will be useful!

In many rural schools, staff take on multiple roles in order to provide a wealth of experiences to their students. However, this often means that teachers are stretched thin in terms of time and resources available for working with students. In many instances, gifted education programs are hardest hit. Gifted coordinators in rural areas often work with students at all grade levels and may not interact with their students every day given the many tasks they have to complete. For our IOAPA schools, this sometimes presents challenges in terms of monitoring student progress, assessing for concerns or difficulties with courses or technology, and working to build relationships where students can ask for help. How can IOAPA coordinators make their program successful despite these constraints?

  • Develop a learning plan with your students. Although most students benefit from clear goals and plans to accomplish them, a learning plan or contract may be particularly useful for IOAPA coordinators filling multiple roles. The learning plan can be used not only to address content or course-specific goals, but also to ask for student input on how you as a site coordinator can best support them and help them meet their goals. Through development of a learning plan with your students, coordinators can know what student goals are for the course as well as strategies that might be useful for success.
  • Plan for check-in daily (even if not face to face). Although online courses encourage students to work independently, it is often still helpful to know that the site coordinators and mentors at their school are available for support. For teachers who many not interact with their students daily, checking in using technology or planning for a regular status update from your students can help you keep tabs on students who may be struggling.
  • Find someone to support your students on-site while they work. If you aren’t available on-site for your IOAPA students’ courses due to scheduling conflicts, make sure that they have someone available to supervise and ensure they are working on their IOAPA coursework. This can range from arranging for students to sit with other teachers during prep periods or study halls or finding teachers to act as mentors (more on that below).
  • Plan for time when students can ask questions. Another key part of supporting your students is ensuring availability for answering questions and providing support even if you do not interact with them regularly. Site coordinators might implement time before or after school for answering questions for their students on a regular basis. Another tool IOAPA site coordinators might use is setting up progress meetings at set points throughout the semester. Progress meetings will allow for face-to-face contact with your students and will help you identify areas in which they might need additional support.
  • Ask an on-site teacher to act as a mentor. Participation in IOAPA requires the establishment of a designated site coordinator and mentor to provide on-site support to your IOAPA students. Although many schools choose to have only one person in these roles, such as the TAG Coordinator, schools can choose to designate a separate mentor or mentors for their IOAPA students. The TAG Coordinator would then take on responsibilities related to the IOAPA site coordinator position while the on-the-ground work would become part of the IOAPA mentor’s duties. For IOAPA site coordinators who fill multiple roles, this can be a good way for a staff member on-site to build a relationship with your IOAPA students and aid in navigating any challenges that students might experience. We recommend considering mentors for your students who:
    • Are available in some way during your IOAPA student’s class time (this might include having students work independently in the classroom while the mentor teaches so that the mentor can check in on them)
    • Are trusted by the mentee. The student may have already developed a relationship with them from previous courses or activities, which can create a system of accountability.
    • Can contribute meaningfully to their IOAPA course due to shared experiences with the student. Although it is not a requirement that a mentor be an expert in the course subject, mentors who can relate personally to the student as well as aid in learning course material can be beneficial when students are feeling struck.
    • Provide feedback with high expectations and belief in abilities. Mentors often act as one of the primary encouragers to their students—by knowing that the mentors are part of their support network, students may be more likely to persist when coursework becomes challenging.

Other ideas and sources of support for IOAPA site coordinators and mentors can be found in the IOAPA Handbook or through participation in the IOAPA Mentor Network. For more about the IOAPA model, visit our website at belinblank.org/ioapa.