(WJHL) – The Tennessee Department of Education is partnering with the Niswonger Foundation to help more students earn college credit while in high school.

The department announced a new program called “Advanced Placement (AP) Access for All.”

The program will provide students across the state with access to AP courses, virtually. The goal is to eliminate financial barriers and help students take AP courses that aren’t currently offered at their home high school.

“This essentially opens up those doors for our rural students, and it says if you want to be able to take a whole course, scope and sequence in AP sciences, you can do that now,” Penny Schwinn, Tennessee Commissioner of Education said. “It takes the responsibility almost off the district to try to figure out how to fund a single teacher for a single course. It’s just too expensive, and it’s cost-prohibitive for our rural districts.”

Schwinn said the program will allow 5,000 more students across the state to have access to AP courses.

“We noticed that during the pandemic that students had all sorts of Internet and computers in a way that they hadn’t had before and were able to get access to lots of different things,” Schwinn said. “We want to make sure that that continues even after the pandemic is over.”