Success Story

Providing Access to Online AP® Courses for All Students

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Iowa Online AP Academy

About the School

107,155 students participated statewide, 164,191 AP exams taken statewide

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Access to Advanced Placement® courses was uneven in the state. College readiness is a strong driver in the state of Iowa, and the state has a long history of making Advanced Placement courses a priority. Its schools serve nearly half a million students, with the majority of students living in urban areas where AP courses are accessible. Rural students, however, had little or no access to AP courses, a clear disadvantage when applying to college.

• In small, rural districts it was hard to justify the cost of hiring a teacher, let alone find a qualified teacher for the few students who wanted to take an AP® course.

• When the district was able to hire a highly qualified teacher, AP course offerings were limited to that teacher’s expertise.

“Apex Learning has been instrumental in our mission to give all Iowa students access to high-quality, Advanced Placement coursework. Because of our work with Apex Learning we have been able to reach thousands of students in ways that will impact the course of their academic path in high school and beyond.”

Kristen Flanary, Administrator
Iowa Online AP Academy


Access to AP courses was limited for a variety of reasons. Some small high schools or districts didn’t have enough students to justify the cost of offering AP courses, or found it difficult to hire teachers qualified to teach rigorous, college level AP courses. Determined to provide all students in the state with access to AP courses, the University of Iowa, Belin Blank Center established the Iowa Online Advanced Placement Academy (IOAPA). Online courses provided through IOAPA allowed students attending small, rural schools access to rigorous, online AP courses.

IOAPA selected Apex Learning to deliver its online AP courses and provide virtual AP instruction. Iowa-certified online teachers engaged one-to-one with each student, using real-time data to monitor each student’s progress and performance. The authorization of Apex Learning online AP courses by the AP Course Audit ensured the courses met College Board requirements, and the online instruction ensured a quality program.


Since the establishment of IOAPA over a decade ago, more than 6,000 students have enrolled in Apex Learning online AP courses. Nearly 70 percent of those students would not have had the opportunity to take an AP course without the efforts provided by IOAPA. But the efforts did not stop there. IOAPA students also had access to AP Exam Review, a comprehensive online study resource from Apex Learning. IOAPA classroom teachers also used Apex Learning digital curriculum to support their instruction in the classroom. This proved particularly valuable for teachers new to the rigor of AP coursework.

  • During school year 2012–2013, 72% of students taking College Board AP exams scored 3 or higher, outperforming the national average of 59% by 13 percentage points.
  • During school year 2011–2012, 72% of students scored a 3or better, outperforming the national average of 59% by 13 percentage points.
  • During school year 2010–2011, 69% of students scored a 3 or higher, outperforming the national average of 58% by 11 percentage points.

Programs that Drive Success

Learn more about the programs used by this school community to achieve results.


Apex Courses

Digital curricula for grade 6 through adult learners help students reach graduation goals and beyond through flexible, personalized first-time credit, credit recovery, and expanded course access.

Courses & Curriculum



Pretest-driven concept recovery to help grade 6–12 students catch up and find success in the courses they’re taking and the tests they’re preparing for.

Assessments, Supplemental & Intervention