This article was published in the Laredo Morning Times on March 3, 2020
Non-Profit College Board and Michigan Virtual partner to expand AP access to students across the state
LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Virtual today announced a new initiative with the College Board to significantly increase student participation and performance in high-quality Advanced Placement (AP) coursework delivered online. The initiative is designed to strengthen AP access across Michigan high schools, particularly in schools with no existing AP courses, often located in rural areas with no local higher education institutions.
“If we want our children to be able to compete in today’s global economy, we need to ensure that all children have access to challenging coursework and more specifically to Advanced Placement coursework,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “This is a matter of equity and opportunity for our Michigan children. I appreciate the collaboration between the College Board and Michigan Virtual to address this critical need, especially for our small, rural schools.”
Efforts to expand student participation in AP courses support Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s policy goal to have 60% of Michigan adults achieve some form of postsecondary credential — degree or otherwise — by 2030. More than 50% of Michigan public schools do not have a robust AP program. The College Board defines a robust AP program as one that offers at least five AP courses. Unfortunately, 39% of Michigan public high schools offer no AP courses. Moreover, a majority (55%) of all rural schools don’t offer a single AP course, and 76% of rural high schools don’t have robust AP programs.
“Michigan’s commitment to providing all students with access to AP classes is anchored in the fact that the difference in salaries between college graduates and others is higher than it’s been in decades,” said Trevor Packer, the head of Advanced Placement Program at the College Board. “These classes can help thousands of Michigan students get a head start on college, reducing the time and money it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree.”
Increasingly, students are capitalizing on virtual AP offerings to engage in courses currently unavailable to them at their local school — expanding access to challenging, college-level coursework for all Michigan students.
“Our partnership will include research to examine student engagement, persistence and performance in online AP courses to inform future strategies to further improve outcomes,” said Mr. Jamey Fitzpatrick, President and CEO of Michigan Virtual. “We have established a goal to increase College Board exams taken by students who use Michigan Virtual coursework by 2,000 by 2025.”
Last year, Michigan Virtual provided nearly 3,000 online AP enrollments in 23 different course titles.
The partnership will draw from new National Standards for Quality Online Teaching, the National Standards for Online Courses and the National Standards for Quality Online Programs. As a member of the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance (VLLA), Michigan Virtual staff were active participants in drafting the new national standards in partnership with Quality Matters. The work of the partnership will also focus on model teacher training resources to meet the specific needs of online instructors and local mentors.
Michigan Virtual has committed the resources of the Michigan Virtual Research Learning Institute for the pilot and expects to publish initial findings in 2021.