Lighthouse Initiative for Texas Classrooms

The Growth of the Advanced Placement Program* in Mathematics in Texas

The Advanced Placement Program* in mathematics has been in place since 1955. In its initial years, many of those who took advantage of the program were from exclusive, expensive private schools or from larger suburban public high schools serving upper middle class communities. More recently, the AP* program has become a tool to promote equitable access to excellence in academic achievement for all students. In 1993, the Texas legislature passed the Advanced Placement Incentive Program to provide funding to offset examination fees for low-income students and to provide training through summer institutes for AP teachers. In 1997, AP participation rates and success rates for Texas high schools were added to the Academic Excellence Indicator System, most well known for ranking Texas high schools based on Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) performance. In 1998, the Texas Education Agency adopted the AP course descriptions from the College Board as part of the new Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). That same year, the Report of the Governor's Texas Science and Technology Council, under then Governor George Bush, set a goal to triple the number of AP exams with passing scores (in all subject areas) to 100,000 by the year 2002 and to increase the number of school districts in Texas with AP programs to 100 percent. In 1999, the Texas legislature increased funding for the AP Incentive Program to offset AP exam costs for all Texas public school students and to provide schools with successful exam performance with funding to be used at their discretion to further improve their AP programs. In the summer of 2002, the Texas Education Agency began to reimburse school districts for the cost of College Board-endorsed summer institutes for Pre-AP* high school teachers. Four years later, in 2006, the cost for middle school teachers to attend summer institutes was also covered.

Due to these initiatives, and the incredible efforts of dedicated Texas mathematics teachers, participation in AP mathematics programs by Texas public school students has increased by over 1005% since 1990. We now have more students earning the highest possible score of 5 on AP mathematics exams than were even taking the exams in 1990. Despite this enormous progress, we still have a long way to go, particularly in assuring that rural, low-income, and minority students in Texas have the same access to outstanding AP mathematics programs as do their counterparts in more affluent communities. The Pre-AP program is an important component in providing that access. Students who have participated in a coherent and articulated mathematics curriculum specifically designed to emphasize the skills, concepts, and work habits necessary for success in calculus and statistics will be best prepared for the AP program in mathematics and for other post-secondary educational opportunities.

The main purpose of the Lighthouse Initiative for Mathematics Classrooms is to provide Texas teachers with guidance in how they can provide access for all students to Pre-AP mathematics objectives while simultaneously addressing the TEKS. If this purpose is achieved, we will continue to see growth in the numbers of students participating in the AP mathematics program and in their success as measured by AP exam performance. The AP program will continue to maintain its reputation for promoting academic achievement while also serving as a tool to promote equity in educational opportunity for all Texas students.


AP Math Growth Figure

Year AB Calculus BC Calculus Statistics
1990 1,808 482  
1991 2,094 553  
1992 2,334 704  
1993 2,806 911  
1994 3,330 840  
1995 4,092 1,004  
1996 4,296 1,036  
1997 4,953 1,075 293
1998 5,282 1,515 786
1999 6,160 1,701 1,214
2000 8,447 2,300 2,164
2001 9,977 2,815 2,720
2002 11,131 3,020 3,417
2003 12,154 3,401 4,043
2004 13,167 3,743 4,658
2005 14,142 3,964 5,167
2006 14,773 4,208 6,320
2007 15,932 4,817 6,667