LISD Honors program

Trustee Jenny Proznik, left, shares her thoughts on the Honors program as Trustee Kristi Hassett, right, looks on. 

Lewisville ISD plans to change the name of its Pre-AP program while enhancing it at the same time.

Beginning in the 2021-22 school year the program will be called Honors.

The change is being made because College Board, a nonprofit created to expand access to higher education, is revamping its Pre-AP program. Districts will no longer be able to use the name Pre-AP unless they remain part of College Board’s program.

LISD decided in 2019 to create its own program, with a new name, in part so it can write its own curriculum. Cost was another factor. Karen Sealy, secondary programs and curriculum director, said last year the cost to use College Board’s program would be $3,000 per course per campus. There would be no cost for LISD to have its own program.

Over the last year a work group began the process of making the transition by creating vision, mission statements and goals.

A new work group recently convened to begin the design work for the program. The group consists of 77 middle and high school teachers and content leaders.

Sealy said the naming of the program was one of the most challenging aspects so far.

“We gathered information from the districts in our immediate area as well as outside our state,” Sealy said.

She said Honors was chosen for several reasons.

“The term is recognized for advanced coursework outside of LISD for scholarships, admissions, the military, NCAA and college applications,” Sealy said. “So communication for these purposes would be more easily understood by our outside audiences.”

She said the term is used by other districts in the immediate area and around the country.

“And the term is recognized by our community as advanced coursework,” Sealy said.

Sealy said the program will offer an additional layer of depth and complexity to each course.

“Students and teachers will work together for a deep understanding of the content,” Sealy said. “To get to this level of understanding students might approach the subject from the known to the unknown, or from the concrete working out toward the more abstract. Depth requires the learning to move beyond facts and concepts to generalizations and broad theories.”

Sealy said complexity requires students to relate concepts and ideas at a more sophisticated level and see solutions from multiple points of view.

“This layer of depth and complexity will promote the type of problem solving and critical thinking called for in the action steps in that mission statement,” Sealy said.

Trustee Jenny Proznik said it is important the new program is more challenging than the existing Pre-AP program.

“I think you’re going to find that because we’re designing the curriculum in Honors it’s more than you’re going to find in Pre-AP,” Proznik said. “I’m more excited about what’s been displayed here for the rigor for a class that we’re going to designate as Honors … than my experience in Pre-AP with my children.”

Sealy said several things will remain the same, however. Honors will remain open enrollment. She said LISD expects to offer the same courses in Honors as it offers in Pre-AP.

She said the Gifted and Talented-specific sections of Honors courses will continue to be offered given enrollment, scheduling and interest.

Sealy said Honors courses will have the same weight for GPA purposes as Pre-AP.

Superintendent Kevin Rogers said the Pre-AP courses that were taken before the change would still say Pre-AP on the students’ transcripts.

The course description guides will be updated with the Honors name.

“I’m very excited about this,” Trustee Angie Cox said. “Many colleges, they use the word ‘honors.’ It’s an honors program, so I think this is great for our kids.”

Trustee Tracy Scott Miller said he was hesitant about using the name “Honors,” saying some people may hear the word and think it’s a level above AP and dual credit.

“In the context of dual credit and AP … I think it could get really misunderstood,” Miller said. “This seems to elevate (Honors).”

Lori Rapp, deputy superintendent, said there was never a defined program for Pre-AP. She said Honors is meant to be the gateway for multiple routes – dual credit, AP or even career and technology.

“We’ve been saying all along that Pre-AP, even the way you’re currently taking it, is not meant to indicate you absolutely have to make AP as your next step,” Rapp said. “It is about an advanced academics approach, so in that way I think it does benefit that Honors is the jumping off point for wherever you as a student want to go from there.”

Next steps include teacher professional learning in the summer. All mentions of Pre-AP must be removed by the fall of 2022.

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