Case Study

Single Digital Curriculum Meets Diverse Needs of School District

January 03, 2012
Anchorage School District, AK


Anchorage School District sought to increase educational options to address a wide range of student needs and provide access to 50,000 students across a large geographic area spanning 1,965 miles.


  • Implement a flexible solution that could be implemented throughout the district

  • Provide alternative learning opportunities for students without sacrificing rigor

  • Expand offerings from AP® courses to general studies courses, original credit and credit recovery


After a thorough evaluation of digital learning providers, Anchorage chose Apex Learning. The rigor of the digital curriculum and its alignment to the College Board requirements for AP courses were critical to the decision.


"We knew the quality was there in Apex Learning courses because of the results," said Jan Thompson, Educational Technology Specialist. "Our AP students taking the Apex Learning courses were getting fantastic scores on the AP exams. You couldn’t ask for a better way to justify the quality of the curriculum.”

Success by the Numbers

2009-2010 School Year

  • 4,480 students

  • 7,694 course enrollments

2008-2009 School Year

  • 3,995 students

  • 7,694 course enrollments

2007-2008 School Year

  • 3,075 students

  • 5,608 course enrollments

About Anchorage School District

  • Nearly 50,000 K-12 students

  • 8 traditional high schools

  • 44 alternative schools and programs

  • Spans 1,965 square miles


Expanding Access to Advanced Placement

Many students attend small schools where AP courses are simply  
not available, whether due to small student populations or a lack of qualified teachers. The district had tried using online AP courses to expand access in the past without success. Curriculum specialists felt that those courses lacked the integrity of traditional classes.




Apex Learning curriculum is highly flexible, enabling us to meet the needs of a variety of students...from credit-recovery students in the traditional high school to students taking AP courses at a distance.

Julie Besch

Educational Technology Specialist


One Curriculum for the Virtual High School

Anchorage’s virtual high school, ASD iSchool, serves students who need to earn original credits but have scheduling conflicts, students who need to recover credits or improve poor past grades, and expelled students who work from home and meet with a teacher or counselor once a week.

In almost all cases, district teachers provide instruction for online general studies courses. However, Anchorage does utilize Apex Learning online teachers to fill gaps — for example, when there is a small class and the district cannot justify the expense of assigning one of its teachers.


We love the fact that Apex Learning courses set the stage or our students. They tell students what they are going to learn, how they are going to learn it, and how long it should take them.

Rosemary Fish

Principal, COHO (Creating Optimal High School Opportunities)



From Distance Learning to the Classroom

Initially focused on meeting the needs of its distance learning programs, Anchorage has extended the use of Apex Learning digital curriculum to the  physical classroom. It is the sole curriculum used for the district’s credit-recovery students in traditional high schools. Students work in computer labs after school to make up credits necessary to graduate.

Students who are withdrawn from a traditional course, either because they are failing or have attendance issues, are immediately placed in an Apex Learning course, enabling them to continue to earn course credit.

Additionally, within Anchorage School District there are nearly 20 special schools that serve specific student populations, such as homeless students, students with behavioral, mental or eating disorders, and incarcerated students. Apex Learning courses, facilitated by on-site certified teachers, are used in classroom computer labs for original credit and credit recovery.

When students are ready to return to their home high school, their Apex Learning coursework moves with them.

"Apex Learning allows us grab a student midstream who is struggling and put them into an online course that keeps them moving toward graduation," said Julie Besch, Educational Technology Specialist.

We knew the quality was there in Apex Learning online courses because of the results. Our AP students taking the Apex Learning courses were getting fantastic scores on the AP exams. You couldn't ask for a better way to justify the quality of the curriculum.

Jan Thompson

Educational Technology Specialist