Roxbury lands grant to boost AP offerings

By Brian Sweeney
Roxbury Central School is among the districts that have been awarded a Virtual Advanced Placement (VAP) Grant.

The New York State Education Department grant offers funding that allows students to participate in online Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
There are several major goals for the VAP grant:
• To improve targeted access to virtual AP courses and increase AP opportunities for low-income students;
• To provide professional development to teachers, administrators and technical staff with regard to development, instruction and support of VAP courses;
• To provide six fully online classes that supplement current AP offerings to low-income students for a repository to shared statewide.

The grants will allow the establishment teams of teachers to work with three E-Learning Specialists and project staff to develop online courses. The teams will work on developing courses in: Psychology, Art History, Statistics, Computer Science A, Human Geography and Comparative Government and Politics.
Roxbury Superintendent Tom O’Brien said the funding will play a key role in his school’s programming.

“These courses will be totally free to our students for an unspecified number of years. Presently, the district picks up the AP fee to take the test (approximately $85) for students who have a greater than 85 percent average,” Superintendent O’Brien explained.

“The AP course offering will be significantly expanded with the grant,” he added.
The RCS superintendent noted that having the courses offered online and creates greater flexibility that assists the district with meeting the challenging scheduling issues found in PK-12 school system.

Staff involvement
The grants will also provide professional development for teachers who are learning to become instructors for these courses.

Superintendent O’Brien indicated that Roxbury teachers could be involved with the development of AP courses and may also be selected to become course instructors.
State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said the program is part of the Board of Regents’ strategy “to ensure that all New York students graduate from high school ready for college and careers.”

The commissioner added, in a press release, “Unfortunately, low-income students don’t always get the chance to take AP courses. And those courses are crucial for admission to and success in college.”

Commissioner King said the VAP will open the door to virtual classrooms that will let students take courses on their own schedule and learn at their own pace.
“We want every student to be ready for college and careers, not just those who live in districts that can afford to offer AP classes,” he explained.

Seventeen school districts and local consortia of districts were awarded grants under New York State’s VAP Program.