Sept. 21, 2007
By Anita Martin
Grant funding and an interest in helping Appalachian Ohio high schoolers succeed has led to the expansion of an Ohio University program that makes advanced placement courses available online to students whose high schools don't offer them.
Advanced placement courses and exams provide high school students the opportunity to earn credit or advanced standing at colleges and universities. The $25,354 grant, funded by the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Appalachian Center for Higher Education (OACHE), will help offset the cost of tuition, textbooks and the AP exam fee for more than 30 Appalachian Ohio high school students from area schools. It also will cover technical support, which Ohio University graduate students will provide.
The program builds on an AP access project that Scott Robison, director of distance learning and online resources for the Ohio University College of Education, initiated last year. Robison teamed up with Richard Greenlee, associate provost for Appalachian access and enrichment programs, and the two negotiated AP offerings with ApexLearning, an online course content provider.
"We noticed the need for AP classes when we were interviewing Appalachian Scholars," Greenlee said. "We kept asking, 'Why didn't you take any AP classes,' and the response was often, 'Well, our school doesn't offer them.'"
According to Robison, AP access at high schools not only provides additional opportunities to college-bound students in underserved areas, but also affects how students view their own competitiveness
"This grant goes a long way to help regional high school students feel they came from a quality school, comparable with suburban schools in areas of higher economic status," Robison said.
This summer, the two sought additional support for the program from OACHE Director Brenda Haas, who immediately agreed to help.
"Many of the high schools within the Appalachian region do not currently offer AP coursework," Haas said. "This collaborative project provides the Appalachian high school student the opportunity to access online college-level coursework at a very low cost. The OACHE believes participation in the AP courses provides an important component in preparing students for college rigor."
So far, this new funding has allowed almost 20 area high school students to sign up for fall-semester online AP courses. The program offers 14 AP courses in math, English, social studies and world languages.
Greenlee describes online AP courses as akin to taking an independent study. "It takes a real self-starter to sit down and do this by yourself, in addition to the other classes they have to take," he said.
Students typically complete work for their AP courses during study halls or after school, Greenlee said. A College of Education graduate assistant stays in touch with the students to provide technical and moral support, track student progress and assist in evaluating program outcomes, such as completion and performance on the AP exams.
"We're hoping this program increases interest in AP courses in the area and that local teachers can take over for ApexLearning instructors to teach these courses," Robison said.