Tag Archives: Iowa Online Advanced Placement Academy

IOAPA: Spring Registration Opens Soon

Spring registration for Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) courses open November 1st and will close December 7th, 2018, or when seats fill, whichever comes first. There are limited seats in each course, and we expect them to fill up fast. Be sure to register as soon as you can! 

As a reminder, IOAPA courses are intended for cases in which the course can not currently be offered through the school district (or, in the case of middle school students, the course is not offered at the student’s grade level). Schools that offer a course on-site are not eligible to offer that course through IOAPA.

Available courses for high school students for spring 2019 include: AP Macroeconomics, AP Microeconomics, AP Psychology, and AP US Government. 

Available courses for middle school students for spring 2019 include: Creative Writing, Introduction to Computer Science, Probability and Statistics, Psychology, and Honors U.S. History to the Civil War.

SSTP Musselman Lab 2018-5

For guidance in making course selection decisions, check out our high school and middle school course infographics here!

To register on November 1st, visit our website! 

Specifics: 

  • If your school registered with IOAPA in the fall, there is no need to re-register the school. Just click “Enroll Your School” on our website, and you will be redirected to the student nomination step.
  • Students enrolled in year-long classes will be automatically enrolled in the second semester of their course, unless they inform us that they would like to drop, or receive a failing grade for the fall term. For a step-by-step registration guide, check out this post.
  • Middle school students interested in enrolling in IOAPA courses should take an above-level test to determine eligibility: 6th graders can take I-Excel; 7th and 8th graders can take the ACT. For eligibility guidelines, see the Requirements page. For more on above-level testing in general, see this page and this post.
  • Our website includes helpful information about IOAPA courses and registration. Visit the Getting Started page first, and click around to find the IOAPA handbook, information about how to talk to administrators and students about IOAPA. 

Stay connected with us!

  • Subscribe to our blog for more on IOAPA courses and other topics relevant to IOAPA teachers, parents, and students.
  • Follow us on Twitter @belinblankIOAPA
  • Email us at ioapa@belinblank.org 

October is Gifted Education Awareness Month!

Governor Reynolds declared the month of October to be Gifted Education Awareness Month. The Iowa Talented and Gifted Association (ITAG) proposed many activities to celebrate giftedness in your school and district! Some of these include:

  • Ask to have gifted students present their achievements at the October school board meeting
  • Communicate with other staff about how to best work with your gifted students
  • Attend the 2018 ITAG Conference Parent Night

How will YOU celebrate?

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Beyond ITAG’s suggestions, our team hopes you celebrate by thinking about who your talented students are and what they need to stay challenged and engaged at school. One way to do this is by selecting students for above-level testing to find out what they already know and, more importantly, what they are ready to learn next. Another way is to help students sign up for advanced courses, such as those available through the Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA). As a reminder, IOAPA registration begins November 1st

As you may know, IOAPA and the Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS) have teamed up to provide identification and programming services in order to help Iowa teachers find talented middle school students and develop their abilities. For more on how BESTS and IOAPA work together, check out our IOAPA-BESTS blog roundup. In order to use above-level testing scores to inform eligibility for IOAPA courses, make sure to begin the above-level testing process soon. 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 90thpercentile 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 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. Families receive above-level test score reports and an extensive interpretation of results that can help with these discussions.

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As part of this process, you may be wondering ‘What do gifted students look like? Who are good candidates for above-level testing or advanced courses?’ High grades are a traditional means to determine giftedness, but grades and assessment scores are not the only avenue. For instance, many gifted students are bored in class, and therefore may stop trying or may create classroom disruptions.  In order to expand your school’s view on gifted qualification, make sure to look at class performance along with psychosocial factors, and socioeconomic and cultural factors. This blog post discusses identifying gifted students from underserved backgrounds.

However you choose to observe Gifted Education Awareness Month, we hope you’ll consider us a resource and partner in supporting Iowa’s brightest students and developing their talent!

A Visual Guide to Middle School IOAPA Courses

With the introduction of our middle school courses in Fall 2015, many students and teachers may still have questions about the types of courses offered by the Iowa Online AP Academy, who these classes might benefit, and how to select students who will be prepared for and challenged by online coursework.

Based on the information and experiences we have gathered so far, we are excited to provide a visual guide to our middle school classes! These data are based on middle school Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) courses taken during the fall 2015 semester.We hope they will be helpful as you and your students consider plans to register for 2016-17 courses through IOAPA.

If you are looking for more information about IOAPA’s middle school classes, check out our past posts on middle school courses and above-level testing, or visit our website. Make sure to check back here soon for our high school courses recap!

IOAPA Fall 2015 MS Data Infographic

 

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!

IOAPA

Resources for IOAPA Mentors and Students

We are excited to welcome our students, mentors, and site coordinators to another great year of online classes! This year, IOAPA has again partnered with Apex Learning Virtual School (AVLS) to offer higher-level classes at the high school and middle school levels. Often, additional questions arise about the online AP class process, ALVS system, and information about IOAPA. The following documents can be a good starting point for facilitating and completing IOAPA classes.

ALVS AP Resources for Mentors and Site Coordinators

ALVS AP Resources:  This document provides information about policies, suggestions for site coordinators, and tools for mentors in order to ensure student success.

ALVS AP Resources for Students

ALVS Student Resources: Students can access tips and suggestions about how to maximize their AP Online experience, as well as Apex policies and procedures.

Additional information about Apex AP courses can be found on their website.

College Board Resources for Teachers

The College Board coordinates Advanced Placement classes and offers several ways for teachers to connect and learn more about AP courses. The search tool can be a great resource for teachers when looking for specific information related to AP.

AP Teacher Communities are another great way for teachers to connect with other AP teachers and learn about AP teaching.

Visit AP Central for more information related to AP.

IOAPA Resources

IOAPA offers several great resources for administration of our classes as well. In addition to our staff, we have an IOAPA handbook which is a great starting point for questions related to IOAPA. We also manage a Twitter account (@kflanaryIOAPA) which can be a great source of additional information that may be of interest to AP teachers and students.

IOAPA also offers professional development training for teachers interested in improving their AP teaching skills over the summer. Information about APTTI is generally released in February or March.

For more information about IOAPA, please visit our website at belinblank.org/ioapa.

In Case You Missed It: Study Techniques That Work

This post was previously published in December 2013. Enjoy!

Students may already bubble with excitement as we approach winter break. Before this break becomes a reality, though, most will have to face exams. The end of the semester can be stressful, but having the right study skills can assuage some anxiety.

As Scientific American Mind reported this fall, there are numerous ways to study—some of which are less useful than others. For example, many students highlight text while studying, perhaps to emphasize important information that may be on exams. Although highlighting is a common practice, it does little to improve performance. Another dubious study practice is rereading.  Rereading a textbook chapter or class notes once may lead to some learning gains, but rereading text more frequently is a poor use of study time.

Before the panic sets in—“But I spent all Tuesday night highlighting and rereading my U.S. Government notes!”—consider more effective options. Some researchers argue that the best study strategies are those that require the learner to manipulate the information to be learned. One way students can accomplish this is through self-testing, such as using flashcards or answering questions at the end of the chapter. Another suggested strategy is interleaved practice, which encourages learners to compare different kinds of problems.  For instance, a student using this method to prepare for a math test alternates between practice problems of different key topic areas rather than completing all problems of one set in one go.

Lastly, distributed practice, or spacing study sessions across longer periods of time, is an effective way to structure study time. Unfortunately for the inner procrastinator in us all, the longer the learner spreads out short, intense study sessions, the more likely the learner will acquire and retain information.

Selected References 

Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K., Marsh, E. J., Mitchell, J. N., & Willingham, D. T. (2013, August 29).  Psychologists identify the best ways to study. Scientific American Mind, 24(4), 47-53.

Winne, P. H. (2013). Learning strategies, study skills, and self-regulated learning in postsecondary education. In M. B. Paulsen (Ed.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (pp. 377-403). New York City, NY: Springer Publishing.

Writing Study Skills Suggested by College Board

The 2014 Iowa AP Index

The Iowa AP Index was developed ten years ago by the Belin-Blank Center. The Index assesses Advanced Placement (AP) participation among accredited public and nonpublic schools in Iowa.

For the fifth consecutive year, George Washington High School in Cedar Rapids is the top Advanced Placement school in Iowa, according to the Index. Rounding out the top 5 schools behind Washington are John F. Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, Regina High School in Iowa City, Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, and Ames High School in Ames.

The Iowa AP Index is designed to give a fair comparison of AP opportunity across Iowa schools. An index score is calculated for each participating school based on the ratio of AP exams taken by all its students divided by the number of its graduating seniors.

The top 25 schools will be honored during the annual Belin-Blank Recognition Ceremony on Oct. 5, 2014, at the University of Iowa.

“Advanced Placement opportunities make a big difference in the lives of the students and their teachers. The rating reflects participation in the AP program at a school, not the overall quality of the school. However, one indication of a high school’s commitment to preparing high-ability students for college is access to advanced courses. Schools that make these opportunities available to the students are clearly committed to the success of the entire student body,” says Susan Assouline, director of the Belin-Blank Center.

The number of schools in Iowa offering AP opportunities and the number of AP exams taken has increased substantially since 2001, with 212 high schools having at least one student take an AP Exam and 14,629 AP Exams taken in 2013. In 2013, the percentage of Iowa exams with a score of 3 or higher was 64.7%, which compares favorably to the 2013 national average of 57.4%.

Through the Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA), funded by the State of Iowa, all accredited schools have access to free tuition for online AP courses and online AP Exam Review. During 2013-2014, Iowa’s 6th graders had access to free above-level testing, which indicates readiness for pre-AP advanced coursework. The Belin-Blank Center provides outreach and professional development for teachers through the College Board-accredited Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute.

To view the top 50 AP schools in Iowa, visit www.iowaapindex.org.