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High school students across Tennessee will soon have access to virtual Advanced Placement classes through the AP Access for All program.

The program comes from a partnership between the Tennessee Department of Education and the Niswonger Foundation and is funded through federal coronavirus relief money.

Fourteen online AP classes will be offered for the fall semester, taught by teachers from across the state who signed up to teach for the program.

For school districts in the Chattanooga region, district officials said the program will provide opportunities for students who typically cannot take AP classes and students with scheduling conflicts, as well as training more teachers to teach AP courses.

Angie Gill Tuck, supervisor of data and assessment at Bradley County Schools, said AP classes were typically taught at one of the district's two high schools. Now, students at both high schools will have more class choices.

"[For] example, classes that we didn't have enough kids to fill a full class, so you couldn't pull a teacher to teach that [if you had], say, just four kids that were interested," Tuck said. "So if we've got a couple of kids that are interested in a course, now we can allow them to take that class and we'll do it several ways."

Bradley County high schools operate on a block schedule with 90-minute classes. For the fall, students will take the class year-round in a shortened 45-minute block, and for classes starting in the spring, the classes will be scheduled for a normal block but listed as a study hall period.

"It will look on their schedule as if they're having a study hall or some class like that, but it's a place for those kids to gather, and when they're in that room, that's where they will go, they will log in, we'll have a person that's just in there just to oversee, make sure everybody's on task doing what they need to do, there's no tech issues," Tuck said. "You may have 15 different kids in there at the same time, but they're all working on different AP classes."

Students with full class schedules can also take the classes on their own time outside of school, and school officials said that one-to-one devices make this option possible.

Leneda Laing, supervisor of secondary education at Cleveland City Schools, said each high school student has a Macbook and a class period where they can get scheduled to work on an AP Access for All class.

She said one focus for the district is to draw attention to three courses offered by the program that are not offered at school: AP art history, AP microeconomics and AP U.S. government and politics.

"Then our next point of recruitment is for the students who, perhaps, an AP class or all of the AP classes, of course, don't fit into their schedule, so they are looking to further themselves to be able to get some extra classes that are not in their schedule or even just try it," Laing said.

"We are looking at underrepresented populations and going through, our counselors are looking to see who they can meet with, and perhaps say, 'we need to get you in an AP class and let's just try this out,' because we want our campus to have a culture of 'you can do this, we believe in you, we want to get you ready for college and career.'"

In Hamilton County Schools, Jamie Parris, director of high school teaching and learning, said AP classes are one part of the district's plan to expand early post-secondary opportunities for students, with other options such as dual enrollment, International Baccalaureate and state dual credit available.

For the 2020-21 school year, high school students in the district earned more than 900 industry certifications in fields such as coding, construction and health science. Parris said 27 AP courses were offered across high schools last school year, and this year 23 classes will be offered in the fall semester.

The enrollment deadline for classes is Aug. 25, and classes begin Aug. 30.

Contact Anika Chaturvedi at achaturvedi@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

AP Access for All classes offered for fall 2021 semester

— AP art history.

— AP biology.

— AP calculus AB.

— AP computer science A.

— AP environmental science.

— AP human geography.

— AP language and composition.

— AP literature and composition.

— AP macroeconomics.

— AP microeconomics.

— AP psychology.

— AP Statistics.

— AP U.S. government and politics.

— AP U.S. history.

Source: AP Access for All

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