States putting AP courses online
- By Nicholas Morehead
- Apr 23, 2001
Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee have enacted a program to offer Advanced
Placement courses online for qualified high school students.
The three-year program, called AP Nexus, is a collaboration between
the states and Apex Learning Inc., a builder and operator of virtual schools
started by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen. The program is funded
through the federal Advanced Placement Initiative.
Under the agreement, students who meet academic criteria at schools
that do not offer AP courses will be allowed to take the online classes.
The courses include Calculus AB, English literature and composition, English
language and composition, U.S. government and politics, U.S. history, microeconomics,
macroeconomics, physics, statistics and chemistry.
Bill Thomas, director of educational technology for the Southern Regional
Education Board (www.sreb.org) said that his organization
was critical in bringing the program to fruition, writing grants, procuring
equipment and serving as a liaison among the 16 states it represents.
Thomas said that while each of the states liked the idea of putting
AP courses online, not everyone was ready to go forth with the initiative.
"Some of our departments of education are grossly understaffed and just
couldn't tackle the project right now," he said. "Others already had bustling
AP programs and wanted to supplement them with additional funding rather
than an online element."
Pamela Hobbins, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Education,
said that such a program is needed and that ideally, every student should
have the opportunity to take AP courses.
"In Tennessee, we have limited funding resources; therefore, the Department
of Education is very aggressive in pursuing federal dollars through grants,"
Hobbins said, because such grants enable more students to have access to
Paul Bloom, vice president of strategic marketing at Apex Learning,
said that it is also hard for schools, particularly in rural areas, to get
qualified teachers to teach AP courses, which contain college-level materials.
"AP courses are also part of a national standard, so we didn't have
to derive our software on a school-by-school basis," Bloom said. "There's
also a single, nationwide exam, which represents a clear, uniform way for
us to measure ourselves in terms of how our programs are working."
Although Apex Learning chose to specialize in online AP courses, it
is planning to branch out in the fall with classes in technology and foreign