FCPS needs to stop relying on other online course providers without testing them against its students. Although it can do a decent job with online classes, it is in FCPS’s online offerings for AP where it just failed.

FCPS’ provider for online classes, Apex Learning, has caused me more stress than IB. I am taking AP Calculus AB online and I had been told that it would be easy, especially since I took IB Math SL 2 last year. However, the general failure in teaching me the concepts behind the math have made me question why FCPS decided to use Apex Learning.

On its website, Apex parades around its success stories of schools improving their graduation rate, use of technology to better engage students and AP programs are offered in places without AP. But, the website never uses student testimonials.

The reality is that Apex is marked by faulty volume control, mediocre graphics and a severe lack of quality student-instructor interaction. It takes a few days to have a teacher answer my simplest question whereas it takes a minute or two for any math teacher at the school to answer the same question. Furthermore, it is as if the due dates for assignments are put without care for the student; never before have I had to turn in four assignments for math on the same day. As someone who has already learned a good portion of the concepts covered in AP, I question how little time the program spends on key concepts. Also, students end up needing a good deal of practice in order to learn them; however, the course does not provide additional practice beyond the eight to ten problems given in each unit.

Apex needs to consider how its students learn and understand the concepts behind their instruction. Instead of hiring teachers that are online accessible via email, it needs to get specific instructors or tutors so that they can work with the students in regular intervals like is done at most high schools.