Wednesday, October 31, 2018

AO Submission Deadline Approaching

Greeting to all Advanced Opportunities Personnel,

Fall Submission Deadline: It’s that time of year that time of year that the AO submission is just around the corner.  Please work with your partner colleges and universities to ensure that all of your course submissions are turned into the SDE by November 9th, 2018.  In the meantime, please note that next week is a data freeze window that restricts access to only college users.  This means that all school and district personnel should have their AO data finalized by this coming Friday, November 2nd.  If you plan on making any edits next week, this can only be done with the permission of college and university personnel.  At the end of the week, you should be at 100% and have the ability to submit your data to the SDE.  If you already have a 100% match please feel free to submit funding requests earlier. The AO support team will be available to work with you and assist you in meeting these deadlines.  

AP Update:

·         Exam Cost: Last week I had the opportunity to attend the AP policy colloquium for state leads and am happy to bring some updates to the field.  For this year, the AP exam fees will stay the same ($94). If your school district is interested in offering or expanding your school’s AP offerings please contact Idaho’s representative Stephen McCue at  This is particularly advantageous for high schools who struggle with teacher credentialing at the dual credit level. By expanding AP, student still have options to receive college credit. Feel free to contact Stephen and he can give you or your administrators more information.

·         Exam Deadline: Many of you may be aware that the College Board has moved up the deadline for signing up for AP exams for next school year.  The deadline will be November 15th. All exams that are requested later in the year will have a late fee, which cannot be covered by Fast Forward funds. Please be ready for this change to avoid late fees in the future.

·         Pre-AP: Additionally, the College Board is currently accepting applications for pilot schools who are interested in implementing pre-AP.  This is a model that is typically found in 8-10th grade that prepares all students for AP rigor classes. It provides opportunities for professional development for your teachers, and also allows a mechanism for ALL students to have an AP experience before they try the real thing. You can find more information at

Idaho Support & Prevention Conference: What many of you know as the “Sun Valley Conference” is currently accepting presentation proposals until December 3rd. If you are interested in presenting at this event, please navigate to the conference website.

Thank you for all your hard work in helping Idaho student succeed!


Tina Polishchuk

Monday, September 10, 2018

Welcome Back to Advanced Opportunities

Welcome Back to all AO Personnel!

 I hope that all of you had a relaxing and fun-filled summer.  Now that August is coming to a close, the school year is upon us! I want to apprise you of important notes and details regarding the implementation of Advanced Opportunities for the FY19 school year. Please read through all this information carefully.

 Our Support Team: Please know that there are a handful of individuals that are dedicated to supporting you in the implementation of AO throughout the year. We are available to assist you in a number of ways, including one-on-one training, parent nights, presentations, and also with Q & A.  Please join us in welcoming the newest member of our team, Noe Zepeda, who will be servicing regions 3 & 4 (i.e., Southwest Idaho). Also, note that Stephanie and Kasi’s email addresses have changed.
·         North Idaho: Stephanie Childress, (208) 502-0298
·         Southwest Idaho: Noe Zepeda, (208) 962-1993
·         Eastern Idaho: Kasi Beorchia (435) 414-9810
·         AO Admin Support: Jean Hilton (208) 332-6906
·         Statewide AO Coordinator: Tina Polishchuk (208) 332-6944
·         GEAR UP Schools: Jacque Deahl (208) 332-6946 & Patty Alonzo (208) 332-6943

Deadlines: Below are all the critical deadlines for submitting funding requests in the Advanced Opportunities Portal. If you have any questions about this feel free to reach out.  Attached, you’ll find two documents that will help you navigate the processes in the portal 1) District User Manual and 2) AO Desk Calendar. If you did not attend our portal trainings in August we highly recommend that you print the desk calendar as it will have answers to FAQ’s and reminders of all deadlines.
Student Access/ Data Entry Window
Verification Window (Get to 100% Match)
District Submission Deadline
Summer 2018
May 14 – June 30
July 1 – Aug 16
Aug 17, 2018
Fall 2018
Aug 27 – Sept 28
Oct 1 – Nov 1
Nov 9, 2018
Spring 2019
Jan 7 – Feb 22
Feb 25 – Apr 26
May 3, 2019 (courses)
May 24, 2019 (exams)
Trimester 1
Aug 27 – Sept 28
Oct 1 – Nov 1
Nov 9, 2018
Trimester 2
Nov 19 – Jan 18
Jan 21 – Apr 26
May 3, 2019
Trimester 3
Feb 11 – Mar 29
Apr 1 – Apr 26
May 3, 2019 (courses)
May 24, 2019 (exams)

Certificates of Residency: Please note that students who use Advanced Opportunities funding to pay for courses no longer need to fill out a COR.
Update Users:  At the beginning of each school year, its always a challenge for us to keep up with the staff turn over during the summer time. If you had turn over in your staff, please contact either your district IT administrator or our IT team (208-332-6987) to make sure those individuals are removed from the Advanced Opportunities portal.  We want to make sure that student data is only available to those individuals that are currently working with students. Additionally, our team will be reaching out to each school district manager to update our internal contact list.

 Student Data: Please do NOT send any identifiable student data to our team in an email unless the files are properly encrypted. Because all of our email correspondence is subject to public records requests, this puts student identities at risk.

 GEAR UP West/Advanced Opportunities Conference:  Our team is partnering with GEAR UP West to bring you an incredible event that will bring folks from all over the country.  Although space is limited, it’s still not too late to sign up.  Conference dates are October 14th-16th. You can choose to stay the whole conference to learn about Advising, statewide and national research and trends, or attend only on Tuesday for information only related to Advanced Opportunities implementation.  Click here to register for the conference.

 Advanced Opportunities Roadshow 2018: Many of you attended the spring technical roadshow. All topics that were presented in the training have been moved online in video format for you. These videos can be found on the AO webpage under the training link. Towards the bottom, you will see a section called “Advanced Opportunities Roadshow 2018”

 Year Round Training:  Our team is dedicated to ensuring that you and your colleagues are connected to state of the art training related to College and Career Readiness. Attached, you will find a PDF that list all the College and Career Readiness professional development opportunities that our team taps into.  These include both statewide and national resources. If you are aware of other training opportunities that we have not included, please feel free to let us know.

 As always, thank you for your hard work and dedication to serving Idaho students. Your commitment is greatly appreciated! I wish all of you a wonderful and blessed school year!


Friday, July 13, 2018

Advanced Opportunities Portal Training

Dear AO Personnel,
I hope that all of you are having a relaxing summer.  As you come back to your posts next month, the SDE will be hosting a variety of portal trainings across the state for school and district user roles.  There will be one in each region of the state, and they will be broken up in morning and afternoon sessions based on your skill level. You can choose to attend either one or both sessions. Click here to register.
·         Region 1- Coeur d’Alene, August 21st
·         Region 2- Lewiston, August 20th
·         Region 3- Boise, August 7th
·         Region 4- Twin Falls, August 9th
·         Region 5- Pocatello, August 17th
·         Region 6- Rigby, August 8th
Enjoy the rest of your summer, and we hope to see you in August!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Advanced Opportunities Updates

Dear Colleagues,

I hope all of you are enjoying the beginning of your summer and taking much-deserved down time. This email contains some important updates related to Advanced Opportunities. 

Support Team

Please note that email address for our support team have changed to the following:
·         Stephanie Childress:
·         Kasi Beorchia:

We are also hiring a third contractor to service Idaho regions 3 and 4.  The job is a contracting position for 7-10 hours per week. Here is a link to the job posting. Applications are due July 20th, 2018.  

AO Portal

·         MAKE UP Payments: If there are any make-up payment for FY18, they MUST be in the portal by June 30th.  The SDE is not able to pay for any courses that are not reported by June 30th.  This deadline caught many folks by surprise last year, please go through your data and payments to ensure that none of your students/courses were missed.  This is a statutory deadline and our team is not able to provide leniency in this area. Costs associated with courses that are not reported in the portal will be billed directly to the student, or in some cases, may become the responsibility of the school district.   
·         FY19 dates can be found in the document attached. Summer data needs to be entered into the portal by June 30th, giving providers the month of July to verify enrollment.  Summer courses must be submitted to the SDE by August 17th.


Certificate of Residency
·         For those of you who live outside of a community-college taxing district, the rumor is true: students who use Fast Forward funds no longer need to fill out the certificate of residency form.  The funds will be sent directly to the community college. It is important that the county of the student is reported accurately in order for this to be done properly.
·         If a student pays for a college course via other means (i.e., out-of-pocket, another scholarship) the student will need to fill out a COR.

Advanced Opportunities Events
·         The Advanced Opportunities Conference is October 14th-16th. We are partnering with GEAR UP West this year. You have the option of attending the full 2 ½ day conference which included AO content and also give you access all information related to advising, college and career readiness, etc. Or you can choose to come to just a one-day event (October 16th) for a fraction of the cost to get the express version of Advanced Opportunities issues.  Click here to register. Early bird pricing is available until July  14th.
·          Advanced Opportunities portal trainings will be held in August. Several of these events will be done in collaboration with the ISEE roadshow. The training schedule will be differentiated depending on your level of comfort in the portal. Please mark your calendars, and if you have a new employee coming onboard, please make sure they attend this event:
o   Region 1- Coeur d’Alene, August 21st
o   Region 2- Lewiston, August 20th
o   Region 3- Boise, August 7th
o   Region 4- Twin Falls, August 9th
o   Region 5- Pocatello, August 17th
o   Region 6- Rigby, August 8th
Thank you for all of your hard work in supporting Idaho students. Enjoy your summer and take time to enjoy your family and loved ones.



Wednesday, May 16, 2018

AO Conference: Accepting Proposals

The GEAR UP West/Advanced Opportunities Conference is scheduled for October 14th-16th at the Boise Center on the Grove!  We are excited to bring together national speakers and stakeholders from the College and Career Readiness community to the state of Idaho as we partner with GEAR UP West!   For the event, we would love to showcase some of Idaho’s best practices and progressive initiatives. If you have a presentation, workshop, idea or success story that you would like to present at the conference, please follow the link to the Presentation Proposal form.  Presentation proposals are due June 15th.  We look forward at bringing Idaho’s best to the conference!

 Topics of interest include, but are not limited to the following:
·         Advanced Opportunities
·         College Career Readiness
·         College Partnerships
·         Building resilience for students and practitioners
·         Apprenticeships and other postsecondary pathways
·         Cross-sector collaboration, partnerships, and collective impact
·         Equity and support for underrepresented populations (gender equity, ELL, students of color, youth who are in foster care and/or are experiencing homelessness)
·         Financial literacy
·         Family engagement
·         College transition, first-year experiences, summer melt, and persistence
·         Grant management
·         Growth mindset and non-cognitive skills
·         Evaluation results that demonstrate effective program practices
·         Data collection and analysis, strategies for demonstrating program success and identifying areas of  improvement
·         Research-based practices and strategies
·         Continuous improvement and sustainability
·         Advocacy in the school and community

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Update: May 15th, 2018

Dear Advanced Opportunities Users,


Today we have released the new and improved Advanced Opportunities Portal 3.0.  Our support team and developers have worked diligently to make the portal a little more user friendly, as you work to approve funding requests for students using their Fast Forward funds. This coming August, we will have portal trainings available to go over all of the features and also provide rights for school districts to use “mass upload” functions. Dates for these trainings will be sent out over the summer.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind:
  • The exam submission deadline for this school year is May 25th, 2018.  This will give you the opportunity to pull out any students who do not show up for their scheduled test.
  • June 30th is a very critical date: if you are planning on submitting any make-up requests for the FY18 school year, they must be in the portal by June 30th.  Statutorily, our department cannot fund any courses or exams that are not requested within the same fiscal year.  Please take time to look over student requests and make sure that a make-up requests are in the portal by the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30th
  • The summer request window is now open. Summer of 2018 is considered to be part of the 2018-2019 school year for purposes of Advanced Opportunities. Summer school requests must be in the portal by June 30th, 2018.
  • In FY19,  deadlines will adhere to a Semester structure.  Therefore, if you are a school that operates on Trimesters, Trimester 1 will adhere to Fall deadlines, and Trimesters 2 & 3 will adhere to Spring deadlines. We will have an extended entry window to accommodate for Trimester 3. However, you will not be required to submit Trimester 2 courses separately.
  • Below, you will see the dates for the Portal for FY19.

Please contact our support team if you have any questions.



Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Update: April 18th, 2018


Below you will find updates regarding Advanced Opportunities: 

AO Portal

·         Currently, we are in the “verification window.”  Course providers are verifying enrollments in the system.  As soon as your enrollments are match at 100%, please feel free to submit your summer date to the SDE.
·         The summer data-entry window for the AO portal will be May 12 through  August 17th. If you district would like to open the summer window sooner, you will need to submit your spring data first. At that point, please send me an email and I can open the summer window sooner.
·         FY19 dates for the portal will be sent out at the end of the month
·         In the middle of May, we will be launching the AO Portal 3.0, which will have a series of updates based on feedback from the field.  User manuals will be updated this summer, and AO portal trainings will be scheduled for August.
AO Technical Roadshow: We will be hosting six events around the state to go over all statute, rule, and policy changes related to Advanced Opportunities, Secondary schools, and College and Career Readiness. Exact locations will be sent out shortly. Click here to RSVP.
·         May 1st- Twin Falls
·         May 2nd- Idaho Falls
·         May 3rd- Pocatello
·         May 21st- Lewiston
·         May 22nd- Coeur d’Alene
·         May 30th- Boise

Advanced Ops Statute Changes: As many of you might already know, the legislature made some statutory changes to the AO statute for the upcoming school year.  They changes will take affect July 1st.  Click here to read the new AO statute.

Certificates of Residency: Please keep in mind that the deadline for COR’s is coming up on May 1st, 2018. If you live outside of a taxing district, please make sure your students get those to your county clerk (this does not apply to students of Ada, Bonneville, Canyon, Jerome, Kootenai, and Twin Falls counties).

Early Graduation Scholarships: If you have students who are graduating at least one year early, please have them log into their Advanced Opportunities account and request the scholarship.  If you are a district who enters requests on the behalf of students, you will need to have them create an account, activate it, and then  the student will be able to log in to receive the scholarship. Fund will be sent to their college of choice in August.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our team. As always, thank you for your hard work and making these opportunities possible for Idaho students.