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WRITER: LENA BAKER
CONTACT: STEPHEN PRADARELLI
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e-mail: stephen-pradarelli@uiowa.edu

Release: June 18, 2001

Belin-Blank Center gets $1.6 million to deliver Advanced Placement courses online

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the University of Iowa's Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development a nearly $1.6 million grant to develop and deliver Advanced Placement (AP) courses over the Internet and the Iowa Communication Network (ICN).

The Technology Innovation Challenge/AP Online Pilot Project Grant, awarded to the Belin-Blank Center via the Iowa Department of Education, is designed to increase student participation in AP courses and exams in high schools. AP gives students an opportunity to take college-level courses and exams while still in high school.

Nicholas Colangelo, Ph.D., director of the Belin-Blank Center here at the University of Iowa, said the grant is the largest ever given to the state of Iowa for AP courses. U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, helped secure the federal funding, which will be used by the Center to deliver courses to 11th and 12th graders online and through the ICN starting in August. APEX Learning Corp. will assist the Belin-Blank Center in delivering the on-line courses.

The grant will also allow any teacher in Iowa to be trained in designing and teaching an AP course and will be available to Iowa's schools for the next two years.

"This is a tremendous opportunity," Colangelo said. "The grant will provide AP courses to all students in Iowa, both in public and private schools, with special emphasis on students from rural schools who simply do not receive AP opportunities. I believe this grant can have a profound effect on the education of Iowa's students."

Clar Baldus, Ph.D., who will direct the project at the Belin-Blank Center, said she's looking forward to getting the program going.

"I am very excited to be part of a project I believe will have such a positive statewide impact," said Baldus, who is an administrator at the Center. "I look forward to working with students, teachers and schools across Iowa to make the AP program a viable choice."

This isn't the Belin-Blank Center's first foray into offering AP classes. In 1999, the Center received a $300,000 grant from the Wallace Foundation to begin a program for offering advanced courses to students in rural schools.

The ICN is a statewide, state administered fiber optics network that enables hospitals, state and federal government, public defense armories, libraries, schools, and higher education users to communicate via high quality, full-motion video; high-speed Internet connections; and telephones. The network has more than 3,000 miles of fiber optic cable reaching into all 99 counties in Iowa, putting every citizen within 15 miles of a video site.

The Belin-Blank Center, established in 1988, specializes in programming and research to meet the educational needs of exceptionally talented children and their teachers. The Center conducts an extensive roster of talent searches, precollege programs, teacher training workshops and counseling programs.

Educators and others who want more information about upcoming course offerings, or who want to learn how to take part in the program, may contact Clar Baldus at 1-800-336-6463, or via e-mail at clar-baldus@uiowa.edu.