Tag Archives: AP courses

Interested in IOAPA? Learn more about registration!

Registration for Iowa Online AP Academy 2016-2017 classes open in just one week (April 19), and many teachers want to register their students promptly to ensure access to these courses. Whether you are new to IOAPA or just need a refresher, take a look at the following handy registration guide for pointers on the registration process!

To register, visit our website (belinblank.org/ioapa). Be sure to read through the Getting Started section for important program information.  You will need to re-register your school each academic year.

When you’re ready to register, take the following steps:

  1. Register your school and assign a site coordinator and mentor. The first step is for principals to register their schools. They can do that on our website (belinblank.org/ioapa) by clicking on Register on the homepage. As part of this step, schools assign a site coordinator and a mentor. They can be the same person or different people; however, the mentor needs to be a certified teacher at the school. We’ll be discussing this difference more in future blog posts.
  2. Nominate the student(s) taking IOAPA course(s). Completing the school registration page sends the principal an automated email with a link in it to nominate the student. The principal either needs to complete the nomination or forward the link to the site coordinator or mentor to complete.
  3. Confirm that the student has self-enrolled in the course. Once the student has been nominated, an email will be automatically sent to the student to enroll himself/herself in the actual course. Be sure to have students check their junk mail folders, as the automated emails sometimes get filtered there. Students should complete this process and be sure to click submit when they’re done.

Middle school students should also take an above-level test to help determine eligibility, with scores considered current within the past two years. (For eligibility guidelines, see Requirements.) Learn more about above-level testing.

Questions? Check out our website (belinblank.org/ioapa) for further assistance!


Iowa Online AP Academy: What Are the Options for Online Learning?

The Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) is a great resource for Iowa students who are interested in AP opportunities beyond what is offered at their high schools. Through IOAPA, students are able to take AP courses and receive guidance and feedback within the classroom setting. However, for some students, IOAPA may not provide the type of experience they are looking for. As students plan their schedules for next year, what about other opportunities for online learning?

MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are courses typically offered by colleges and universities (often for free) with the goal of providing increased access to education. Although an increased interest in MOOCs has encouraged universities to provide credit for individuals who take these courses, there is no consistent way to ensure that the work put forth in these classes will result in cost savings or credit at college. Nevertheless, MOOCs continue to be a popular and growing option for people of all ages. More on MOOCs can be found here.

EdX courses are another option for free online courses (including MOOCs) that cover a wide variety of disciplines. Again, the developers of EdX hope to provide users with access to online courses regardless of geography. Recently, EdX has begun adding options for AP Biology coursework on their website. Although this offering is relatively new, the course provider noted that this does not translate to high school credit or give students opportunities for completing science labs at this time.

Online schools are another way that students might be able to seek out higher level coursework in areas that are of interest to them. In the past few years, several external agencies have partnered with school districts in Iowa to offer alternatives for Iowa students at all levels. Although online schools often offer AP courses, the quality tends to vary significantly, and some argue against the for-profit nature of online schools, so students interested in this option should carefully research their options.

Iowa high schools also often partner with local community colleges or four-year institutions to offer concurrent enrollment courses or post-secondary enrollment options. We have discussed the pros and cons of these options in past posts, one of the main drawbacks being uncertainty about how credits might transfer for specific courses, especially those coming from community colleges.

Why choose IOAPA over these other options?

IOAPA offers several things that other online programs do not. First, it provides consistently high-quality Advanced Placement coursework that is designed to fit within an existing high school student’s class schedule. IOAPA classes are also designed to provide students new to online coursework with on-site support through site coordinators and mentors. These staff members help IOAPA students adjust to the nuances of online courses, and also aid students in finding resources and communicating with their course instructors. IOAPA courses are provided free of charge to Iowa high school students, and IOAPA students also have the opportunity to participate in AP exam review sessions for their IOAPA courses at no cost. IOAPA has very high completion rates (84%) compared to other online programs, and students tend to perform as well on the AP exam as students in traditional AP classes.

Interested in learning more about IOAPA? Visit our website at belinblank.org/ioapa

Iowa Online AP Academy: Staying Organized

Time management and organization are important skills in general, but they are imperative when enrolling in and completing online AP courses. We’ve dedicated many past posts to staying motivated and preparing for online classes because preparation and planning are key components to achieving success in AP online classes. Here are some things to consider as you begin a new year of AP Online courses:

  • Understand expectations: The first step to successful organization is knowing what your instructor expects in terms of course requirements. Make sure you know when tests, quizzes, and assignments are scheduled, and develop a system for keeping deadlines organized (helpful suggestions can be found here). For online AP courses, it is also important to know what your school expects in terms of scheduling and exam requirements—make sure to check with your AP coordinator if these are not clear to you.
  • Set goals—and know what it will take to achieve them: In addition to expectations that others create, make sure to set expectations and goals for yourself as well. This often takes a two-pronged approach—thinking about the big picture and day-to-day goals. First, think about overarching goals—what do you want to gain from your AP class? What do you need to do to get there? Next, set goals for smaller assignments—the day-to-day things that lead up to success in larger goals. Block out time required for studying for tests, writing papers, and completing projects. How does working on these smaller tasks contribute to your “big picture” goal?
  • Make space for studying: It’s often easier to get things accomplished when you have specific time and space dedicated to studying. Setting aside a certain amount of time each day makes accomplishing your goals a priority, and a specific study space helps generate the focus required to make this a reality. Everyone’s study needs are different (this site has a helpful list of things to consider in creating a study space), but aim to use a certain space consistently so that your brain is ready to focus when it’s time to work on AP coursework.
  • Communicate and ask for help: If a course has unclear expectations or you’re struggling to grasp certain concepts, reach out to your course instructor, course mentor, or other instructors and students for help. Even if they don’t have the answer you’re looking for, they may have resources that can help you get there.

Other helpful tips for success in AP courses can be found here.

Welcome to APTTI: Resources for AP Teachers

This week, the Belin-Blank Center is hosting 170 participants and 10 instructors for the Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute (APTTI). APTTI is a four-day institute that helps high school teachers prepare course materials and instruct on exam readiness. Participants have access to AP consultants, hands-on experience and sample course materials in order to build and improve their AP courses.

If you weren’t able to attend APTTI this year, the College Board still has some great resources to use when developing your AP classes this summer:

IOAPA Students: How Can AP Prepare You for the Next Steps?

Whether you’ve already taken an AP course or are preparing to take your first AP class, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of taking AP courses. However, you might be wondering what else your AP class can do for you after high school. The College Board’s AP Students website provides some helpful tools to guide you in learning about how AP applies to college and beyond.

Perhaps you have an idea of how your AP classes relate to a college major or career. Maybe you have no idea of what to major in yet. Explore your options on the AP Students website—you can search by career, college major, or AP course to see how your AP experience can work towards future goals.

  • How might your AP credits transfer to colleges?

If you’ve already received credit and are starting the college search, you might wonder how your AP classes will show up on your transcript. In addition, getting the most credits for your scores might be another priority. AP Students has an extensive list of colleges and lists which courses receive credit and how much your score matters. For example, by searching the University of Iowa’s credit policy, a score of 3 or 4 on the AP Music Theory exam gives you credit for one course, but a score of 5 gives you credit for two courses. Understanding how your AP exam scores might be applied can help you avoid taking duplicate courses in college.

Summer Prep for Online AP Courses

Although school may be just wrapping up this year, it is not too early to begin thinking about next year’s online AP courses. Many students, especially those who are taking online AP courses for the first time, may wonder how best to prepare for the challenge of online AP courses. What can be done to prepare during the summer before class even begins?

Set summer goals

An important part of online classes is developing the discipline to be self-motivated in your studies, and summer is a great time to practice this skill by setting learning goals for upcoming AP classes. This might take many forms depending on the class—perhaps you want to read a certain number of books related to your AP class, or maybe review certain concepts from prior classes that are related. Setting a realistic goal and creating a plan to achieve it early on will make it easier when setting goals for completing your AP class.

Establish study strategies

Online AP courses cover a lot of advanced material, and developing a note-taking system can make all that information seem more organized and accessible. There are several methods of note-taking, so trying some out over the summer can help identify strategies for learning that work for you.

Read and review

One of the best ways to get ahead is to seek out knowledge that relates to your upcoming AP class. Seeking out your own information can be helpful for a variety of reasons. First, reading books or articles related to your AP class can highlight additional information that might be useful on the AP exam. Finding new information and reading independently can be a great way to practice goal setting and note taking. In addition, it can also help you identify areas that could benefit from additional review. The College Board publishes examples of past exam questions which can be helpful when selecting topics to learn more about.

Connect with others

When developing a summer preparation plan, teachers, counselors, or other AP students can be great resources. Reach out and talk to teachers or counselors, and ask about ways to prepare and achieve success. They might have helpful pointers and access to resources that can aid you before class begins. If you know other students who have taken your AP class, see what worked best for them (certain study strategies, additional books, mentors). Learning from others and how to ask for support is a valuable skill in independent learning.


Students can learn more about AP courses by going to the AP Students website at https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/home

IOAPA: Staying Connected with AP and the Belin-Blank Center this Summer

The last week of AP testing wrapped up on Friday, and while AP teachers and Iowa Online AP Academy mentors are breathing a sigh of relief, College Board and the Belin-Blank Center are gearing up to help support you and your AP students for the 2014-2015 school year!

Here are a few things you can do to help get ready for AP for 2014-2015:

Right Now: 

A few days after the AP exam is finished, the College Board will release the free response items from the 2014 exams.  If you have enough time before the end of the school year, talk about these free response questions with your current AP students.  A student discussion around the questions and responses will help you and your students prep for future AP courses.

Celebrate!  Some schools host AP breakfasts or a special lunch/reception after the AP exams are over.  Take the time to relax, and pat yourself on the back.  You all have worked hard and you deserve it!


This Summer:

Participate in an AP Summer Institute to learn more about the course content for each AP course and to learn about upcoming course revisions.  (The Belin-Blank Center is hosting an institute July 7 – 10.  Register here.)

Send in your Iowa Online AP Academy mentor form.  All mentors will be contacted in early August to participate in a webinar with Apex AP instructors before the beginning of the next school year.

If you are a counselor, register to attend the free fall counselor workshops.

Attend the AP Annual Conference July 9 – 13, 2014.


Congratulations on your participation in AP during the 2013-2014 school year!

No AP Classes in Your Iowa School, But Have Aspiring AP Students?

The Iowa Online Advanced Placement Academy (IOAPA) is best known for offering online, College Board-audited AP courses to Iowa’s high school students to give students an opportunity to take college-level courses while in high school. IOAPA delivers AP courses using Apex Learning’s digital curriculum.

IOAPA still has openings for the Spring 2014 semester:

  • Psychology
  • U.S. Government
  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics

Registration ends December 13th – contact Lori Hudson to register.