LISD to replace Pre-AP with Honors

LISD’s decision to replace Pre-AP classes with a new Honors course will save the district money and remove curriculum guidelines set by the College Board. (Amber Luther)

Starting next school year, all Pre-AP classes in LISD will be replaced by new Honors classes. LISD made this decision because the College Board will charge districts $3,000 for each class under the name of Pre-AP, which must be removed by fall of 2022. Choosing to pay this fee would also force LISD to base their curriculum, which is currently written by teachers in the district, off of the College Board’s.

Starting the Honors program will allow LISD to build its own curriculum for no cost. LISD decided to switch to the name Honors because of its use in academia outside of LISD, such as in other districts, the military, the NCAA and college level classes.

Plans to create the new curriculum began a year ago. However, a team of 77 teachers and content leaders recently met to construct the new program. The group, which included Secondary Programs and Curriculum Director Karen Sealy, decided to implement an increase in rigor for the new Honors classes.

“Honors courses will offer an additional layer of depth and complexity applied to the standard core content alongside the high expectations and authentic learning experiences found in all LISD courses,” Sealy stated in an email. “Depth requires the teaching and learning to move beyond facts and concepts toward generalizations and theories.”

Pre-AP social studies teacher Courtney House was on the Advanced Academic Committee in 2019, which decided to not to keep the Pre-AP name. House said that while the Honors classes will be harder, the current Pre-AP curriculum already encourages the same complex ideas.

“We’re not trying to get you to work more,” House said. “We’re trying to get you to work at a deeper level.”

While the current curriculum already strides for this type of critical thinking, the reason behind the district reinforcing this concept is to open more opportunities for students after Pre-AP classes, which previously have been seen as a pipeline to AP. The new program will try to prepare students for other options such as dual credit and career and technology education classes.

Honors classes will be weighted the same as Pre-AP when calculating GPA. This concerns sophomore Jamie Campopiano, who is unsure of the harder curriculum.

“I don’t really know how to feel because on one hand, I like my GPA in Pre-AP classes,” Campopiano said. “But if they’re going to change that level of difficulty, I don’t know if I’d be able to cope with that type of change.”

In the future, Campopiano plans on taking the change slowly.

Any kid can be successful as long as you have a willingness to work and a teacher alongside you to help get you there.”

— Courtney House, Teacher

“I know I can take a Pre-AP class and I’m definitely not going to take another AP class,” Campopiano said. “Going forwards, I might attempt the Honors classes and then maybe drop out if they’re too difficult.”

House said that difficulty should be something students consider, but that it’s a misconception that only “smart kids” can be in a Pre-AP or Honors classes.

“I think some students welcome that challenge, and I think some students are scared of it,” House said. “…Any kid can be successful as long as you have a willingness to work and a teacher alongside you to help get you there.”

Although the curriculum will bring change, some things will remain the same. Any Pre-AP class taken by students in the past will remain on their transcripts. All current Pre-AP classes will be offered in Honors, including Gifted and Talented classes, depending on enrollment and interest. The district will also keep the same open enrollment policy when making the change to Honors classes.

Teachers will participate in professional learning this summer to prepare for the new curriculum. However, House is not worried about the change. Instead, she’s more concerned with ensuring students and parents are aware of what the Honors program will entail.

“I think we have a lot of parents with a lot of questions about how GPA weight’s going to be affected, what the homework load will look like,” House said. “I think it’s just going to involve us educating parents and students.”