Case Study

High School Uses Digital Learning for AP

Vacaville School District, CA


Despite having a limited staff, Vacaville School District needed to address student demand for a wide range of Advanced Placement® (AP®) courses.


Offer students AP online courses to ensure advanced learning opportunities and college readiness.


Pair Apex Learning online AP courses and Apex Learning teachers with local subject-area mentors to expand the availability of AP.


100% of the district's AP students enrolled in college.


Meeting Students' Academic Needs

In the Vacaville School District, offering Advanced Placement (AP) courses to students at Buckingham Charter Magnet High School was a natural fit for the school's high standards. Buckingham offered a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum with the expectation that all students will graduate. The charter school's student population was too small to support the staffing required to offer AP courses as a traditional brick-and-mortar program. Nevertheless, demand for AP classes in math, English, science, world languages, history, government, and psychology was strong.

All students attended an orientation explaining the online environment and AP before they were able to start their coursework.

Chuck Robbins

English & Social Studies Teacher, Supervisor of Apex Learning Courses


Offering AP Online

In response to this demand, Buckingham decided to offer Apex Learning online AP courses. The school implemented the online AP program using Apex Learning online teachers to expand educational choices for students. Since Buckingham is a magnet school that emphasizes the use of technology, students were already accustomed to digital learning and were drawn to the idea of taking AP courses online. Without the online curriculum, AP courses would not have been available.



Apex Learning online courses and teachers allowed us to better meet the needs of every student by providing educational opportunities that are available at larger schools.

Jeff Erickson

Principal, Buckingham
Charter Magnet High School


Competing to Succeed

Admission into the online AP program was very competitive. Each student was carefully screened and grades were weighed heavily into whether a student gained acceptance. Once accepted, students attended an orientation that outlined the rigor of AP courses and offered guidance on how to succeed in an online learning environment. Students took AP courses in a computer lab during the regular school day and were required to log nine hours of class time every two weeks. Highly qualified, subject-area teachers supervised the AP classes and served as mentors, helping students as needed and working with Apex Learning online teachers to facilitate student progress.

Realizing Success

Buckingham students had tremendous success. All of the school's AP students graduated from high school and went on to attend two year and four-year colleges.

We expected our students to be self-directed learners, collaborative workers, and complex thinkers in all of their courses. Apex Learning online courses allowed our teachers to work with students individually to make sure they were successful in a rigorous learning atmosphere.

Chuck Robbins

English & Social Studies Teacher, Supervisor of Apex Learning Courses

Success by the Numbers

2001-09 School Years

  • 100 percent of AP students graduated on time.


Students who enrolled in two- or four-year colleges:

  • 84 percent of AP students
  • 93 percent of AP Exam takers


About Vacaville School District

  • Suburban district located 30 miless outhwest of Sacramento
  • 15,000 K-12 students
  • 4 high schools