CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
Iowa Talent Program produces some of Iowa's highest achieving high
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Iowa Talent Project, a program aimed at decreasing
the dropout rate among minority high school students and increasing minority
enrollment at the University of Iowa, has produced some of the highest
achieving high school students in the state.
The Iowa Talent Project (ITP) is a four-year program that allows talented
minority eighth-grade students to enroll in an accelerated high school
and college curriculum.
"The Iowa Talent Project was conceived as a model of cooperative
partnership in education," says Nicholas Colangelo, director of The
Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education
and Talent Development. Colangelo also serves as an ITP co-director.
The ITP was started in 1994 by the UI's Belin-Blank Center, Des Moines
Central Academy and the AmerUs Corporation. AmerUs, which initially contributed
financial support when the program began, provides employment and other
incentives for participating students.
Galen Johnson, director of Des Moines Public Schools' gifted program
and ITP co-director, says the three entities partnered in response to a
need to provide additional educational opportunities for highly talented
"We knew we had talented minority students. We believe those six
who will be the first to graduate from the program next May will be a success
at the UI," Johnson says.
Egan Hill, a senior at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, is an ITP
student. Hill is one of only 25 students in the state who has earned an
Advanced Placement (AP) Scholar with Distinction honor. Hill is also being
considered for a National AP scholar award. Each year about 1,000 students
nationwide are eligible for the award, and in its history, fewer than 50
Iowa high school students have received it.
ITP students Alexandria Rocha from East High School in Des Moines, and
Grace White, from Roosevelt High School are seniors who both were named
AP scholars during their junior year of high school. Three additional ITP
seniors on-track to earn the AP scholar award this academic year are Jonathan
Howell from Hoover High School, and Roosevelt High School students Ronnie
Caldwell and Tiffany Bradley.
In 1998 only 370 Iowa high school students were named AP scholars by
the College Board, the Princeton, New Jersey-based education testing company.
To be named an AP Scholar with Distinction, a student must take at least
five AP exams in college-level subjects such as English, foreign languages,
calculus, physics and must average at least a 3.5 on all exams. National
AP winners must take at least eight exams with a 4 or higher average.
To be eligible for the ITP, a student must attend a school in the Des
Moines School District; be recommended by their seventh grade teachers;
be prepared to enter the eighth grade; have earned a "B" or better
average on all previous coursework; and must have taken courses at the
highest curriculum level available at their respective schools.
Selected students attend the Academy for one-half day where they are
enrolled in accelerated academic courses and all attend a Des Moines high
school for a portion of the school day.
At least 40 percent of the Academy's eighth grade math students take
accelerated geometry or a higher mathematics course, Johnson says. By
the ninth grade, most have completed high school curriculum requirements,
and by the tenth grade, students begin to take college-level courses.
Some 14 students enrolled in the program when it began in 1994. Colangelo
expects more students will participate in the future and notes that retention
has improved since the program's inception. Students can elect to withdraw
from the program at anytime and are not obligated to enroll at the UI.
Johnson says the students are encouraged to enroll at the UI and are
encouraged to remain in the state.
"We know the UI will support the students when they come in. It
looks like four or five will matriculate to the UI. We want to make sure
they are successful UI graduates, not just entrants," Johnson says.
Students from Central Academy traditionally enter post-secondary institutions
with numerous college credits. Johnson estimates that each Central Academy
student will have earned between 15 and 30 semester credits prior to enrolling
at the UI or another college next fall, and nearly all of the Academy's
former AP scholars have completed a degree in four years or less.
For more information about the ITP program, contact Belin-Blank Center
Director, Nicholas Colangelo at (319) 335-6150 or Galen Johnson at (515)