Advanced Academics in Houston and Gulf Coast-area public schools include courses, programs, assessments, and services that support opportunities for students to demonstrate college and career readiness and possibly earn postsecondary credit. There are many programs available for students beginning with Gifted and Talented in elementary school and Advanced Placement (AP) and Dual Credit through the end of high school.
The numerous program titles can be confusing, as they are sometimes similar to one another. First of all, college preparatory courses are the basic core requirements to graduate from high school. These classes are intended for students who plan to attend college after high school, as they provide the academic background needed to succeed at the university level. Students enrolled in college prep classes are not placed in challenging AP levels of a class, and they are not placed into the remedial version of the class for catch-up. In many schools, students have the opportunity to move from college preparatory classes to Advanced Placement classes if they attain a certain grade point average.
Advanced Placement (AP)
Advanced Placement (AP) is a program which offers college-level curriculum and examinations to high school students. American colleges and universities may grant placement and college course credit to students who obtain high examination scores and allow them to skip many introductory courses their first year in college. AP classes give students a taste of college-level work while developing academic skills needed for college success, and having AP work on high school transcripts helps students stand out in college admissions. There are a multitude of options for students interested in Advanced Placement courses, including AP Math classes, AP English, AP Social Studies, AP Writing, and AP Science classes.
Dual Credit, Earn College Credit in High School
In addition to the AP programs, Houston-area schools also offer dual credit courses. Dual credit is a system under which eligible high school students enroll in college courses and receive credit for the courses from both the college and high school. Dual credit courses, which include academic and technical classes, may be taught on the high school campus by an approved instructor or on the college campus. Dual credit programs transfer credits to Texas public colleges and universities, save money on college tuition, and provide experience with a college workload. Also, students who transfer credits while in high school are considered freshmen when entering college, and they can still apply for and take advantage of any freshman scholarships or grants that are available to them.
Gifted and Talented (GT) Programs
At the elementary school level, public schools provide an enriched academic environment in their Gifted & Talented programs for students with advanced learning abilities. According to TEA guidelines, Kindergarten through 12th-grade students who are gifted and talented in Texas must be assessed for GT identification, and if determined, the school district must them provide proper services. Gifted students perform at high levels of accomplishment in an intellectual or creative area when compared to others of the same age, experience, or environment. Children identified as GT usually display a love of learning in one or more subjects, and they tend to possess exceptional leadership capabilities. Gifted and Talented students do not necessarily become AP students in middle school and high school. GT students do not always flourish in an environment with harder work and time-consuming workloads. Rather, they tend to prefer time to think and explore while pursuing their talents.
Houston and Gulf Coast-area public schools extend an array of personalized advanced academic plans that best suits each student’s individual needs. These programs provide opportunities for each level of school, from elementary to high school, and they set high goals for college-bound students. Parents and students are encouraged to explore all advanced academic programs that their school district has to offer.
Additional benefits to students enrolled in Advanced Academics:
- College Board studies have shown that Advanced Placement students score higher on standardized test scores than non-AP students. They attend college at higher rates , earn higher grades in college, and are less likely to drop out of college. AP students also hold more favorable attitudes toward the academic material that their AP course covered, and they are more likely to major in a field related to their AP course.
- Dual credit options provide a significant cost savings over a traditional college education. High school students can explore academic interests before entering college and begin their college education earlier. Dual credit students transition from high school to college easier.
- Gifted and Talented education programs challenge students and prevent boredom. GT students have more opportunities to go on and earn advanced degrees in college, and they tend to enjoy greater success in their career fields.