In the fall of 2018, College Board® will begin offering Pre-AP® courses. That statement alone is confusing since many high school students think they have taken Pre-AP® courses already—their high school transcripts even say it’s true. High schools were using the term Pre-AP® without using a standardized Pre-AP® curriculum, and College Board® is about to change that. If high schools choose to participate, they will apply for a spot in the program and pay up to $6,500 per subject offered (for a school of 801+ students). The per subject cost drops for schools offering multiple subjects. School districts will pay for each campus utilizing the program, which means a significant investment from participants.
Which Schools Are Participating?
At this time, College Board® lists 84 participating schools nationwide for the 2018-2019 school year. 21 schools are in Texas, but only three are in the DFW metroplex; most of the others are in the Houston area.
For the 2019-2020 school year, College Board® plans to include additional schools if the demand exists. Much of that may be determined by which school districts can come up with the funds to pay for the courses.
What Pre-AP® Courses Will Be Offered?
For the 2018-2019 school year, eight courses will be available for ninth graders only. They include Pre-AP® Algebra I, Pre-AP® Biology, Pre-AP® English I, Pre-AP® World History and Geography, and Pre-AP® Arts: Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts. Additional courses will be added each year as the program grows, but for the first two years, the program will only be for ninth grade students.
Will Pre-AP Courses Still Be Considered Advanced or Honors?
No. If a school offers a Pre-AP® course, it must offer it to all students as the standard baseline course. The only exceptions would be for students who require significant accommodations or in states where the law prevents schools from requiring students to take college preparatory courses. High schools are also allowed to add to the curriculum to make a course part of an honors program if they choose to do so.
This change will require a shift in the mindset of high schools, students, parents, and colleges. For many years, Pre-AP® indicated an advanced course on a high school transcript, and it will take training and time to break through that idea.
Will These Changes Affect My Student?
All students at schools offering Pre-AP® courses will be affected as the new program starts. New course offerings will require more explanation for students and parents, additional training for teachers, and adjustments for administrators. You can probably expect additional parent meetings, and students may need to schedule more time with guidance counselors for questions. It is likely that there will be some bumps in the road as the program starts, as with any new undertaking, and students and teachers will need to prepare for that likelihood.
Even if your student attends a high school that will not offer the Pre-AP® program, he or she may be impacted. High schools will reevaluate course titles and curriculum, and they will not be able to use the term Pre-AP® unless they use the College Board®’s curriculum. Schools will have until 2022 to completely phase out the term, but many high schools have decided to make the change immediately. Don’t panic if you see courses on your child’s transcript change names—the school district is probably being proactive due to these changes.
What If My Child Took “Pre-AP” Courses in Previous Years and The School Changes What They Are Called?
Don’t worry—your high school will make it clear that those courses were advanced. It is in the student’s best interest, and the school’s, for a college to clearly understand a course’s level of difficulty. Your student will still get the credit he or she originally received for taking a more challenging course. You will likely see high schools use general terms like “Advanced” or “Honors,” which are easy for colleges to interpret from a high school transcript.
How Will the New Pre-AP® Courses Affect Teachers?
All teachers will need to attend a four-day live instruction workshop to teach Pre-AP® courses, which is an additional cost for school districts. Although teachers can use any textbook with a Pre-AP® course, they will need to incorporate the curriculum and assessments from College Board® along with preparation for state testing. That’s a big task, and teachers will need to find a way to include it all, which is likely to take time to perfect.
Only time will tell how many schools will adopt the new Pre-AP® courses. Many school districts say that they don’t have the money to pay for the program, and that is unlikely to change, especially since some states have cut funding for AP® programs and put more of the burden on school districts. It will take several years to determine the effectiveness of the program, and even how it should be measured. For now, students and parents should be prepared for possible transcript changes and new course offerings, understand why the changes are happening, and know that it won’t affect the success of students.