Texas Schools See Increase in Number of AP Exams Taken and Improved Results

The Texas schools released figures in September 2006, showing substantial increases in the number of Texas schools students taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams, as well as their resulting scores.

High schools across the nation are allowed to teach college-level coursework that is first approved by the College Board, the national administrator of the AP exams. Under current rules, a high school need only sign a form promising to teach the specific curriculum for any class to be designated AP.

When Texas schools students take and pass an AP exam with a high enough score, they receive college credit for the course, which they will not have to take when they attend college. Not only does this allow college-bound students to take fewer courses in college to fulfill their degree requirements, but it also means that they and their parents save money on the cost of college tuition.

Many Texas schools districts see this as a win-win situation that encourages students and provides incentives for them to attend college after graduating high school. Here is some of the information released by the Texas schools:

o The number of high school students in the Texas schools that took AP exams increased from 80,240 in 2002 to 122,969 in 2006 — more than a 50 percent increase;

o The number of Texas schools students, who scored high enough to earn college credit in 2006, increased by more than 40 percent from 2002;

o There was a total of 224,168 tests taken in 2006 and 49 percent of these scores were three or higher — this is a slight drop from the 53 percent of three of higher scores in 2002;

o English language, English literature, and U.S. history remain the most popular of the 35 AP exams available; and

o Italian, Latin literature, French literature, microeconomics, and physics of electricity and magnetism were the least popular.

To encourage students to participate in AP coursework, as well as to take and pass the exams, many Texas schools districts provide cash incentives to both their students and teachers. They partner with nonprofit donor organizations or use foundation grants to fund their AP incentives. Some students and teachers earn from $100 to $300 for each exam passed. The incentives must work, since all of the schools using them have seen a dramatic increase in the number of students taking and passing the exams. Galveston’s Ball High School, for example, expects to receive $15,800 this year in student-earned incentives.

The Texas schools attributed their improved results for 2006 to the cash incentives, incentives to reduce exam costs for students (up to $80 for each exam), increased teacher training, and the overall push by the Texas schools to create a college-bound culture within their high schools.

Choosing an English School

The Internet is a great way to learn and practice English. However, for many people, going to an English school can still be a valuable part of improving their skills.

Some people learn English to quite a high level without ever having a formal lesson. They may learn from the Internet, or books, but their speaking ability is likely to be limited. Or they may simply make friends with English speakers, but their mistakes may not be corrected and they may not get a chance to practice all the necessary skills.

Language is a means of communication; it allows you to exchange ideas with other people. By joining a school and taking formal lessons you will get the opportunity to benefit from the advice of a native speaker and to communicate in English with others. You will have the opportunity to practice different skills and receive valuable feedback on your performance.

There are now more English schools than ever before. This article gives some advice on finding the right one for YOU.

Types of English

It is important to know why you want to study English before choosing a school. Do you want to practice conversation, study for an exam (such as TOEFL or TOEIC), or learn English for a specific purpose (eg business or academic purposes)? Be sure that the school you choose will give you the right kind of lessons.


If a friend or colleague has been satisfied with a school then that school is worth considering. But remember, people learn in different ways, and a school that suits your friend may not be the best one for you.

Trial lessons

Most schools or private teachers will be happy to give you a free trial lesson. It is a good idea to have trial lessons with a few different schools (or teachers) before deciding. When you visit a school for a trial lesson try to ask some of the other students what they think about the school. There are no rules on what makes a good lesson; the best lesson for you is the one you feel most comfortable with.


When you are considering different schools be sure to ask about the experience and qualifications of the teachers. Avoid schools that employ teachers with no experience or qualifications in teaching English.


Some schools have systems in which every lesson follows the same pattern. Systems can sometimes be a good way to learn, but no system works for every learner all the time. Avoid schools where the system seems to replace proper preparation by the teachers.

Group or private lessons

Private lessons cost more than group lessons, but you will benefit from the complete attention of the teacher. Small groups give you the chance to communicate with other students. If you are thinking of joining a school with larger classes be sure that lessons give you lots of chances to practice your English in smaller groups. Avoid schools where the teacher spends most of their time lecturing the class.


Some schools have been accredited by an outside organization such as the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA) or ACCET (Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training) in the United States or the British Council in the UK. This means that the schools have been inspected by the accreditation body and found to be of good quality. It is a good sign if a school has been accredited, but there are many good schools without accreditation, especially smaller, privately owned schools.


There is a saying in English that “you get what you pay for”. This means that if you do not pay very much you will not receive much in return. Qualified and experienced teachers get higher salaries than “backpackers”, so it is not a good idea to choose a school simply because it is cheap. It is also good to avoid schools which insist on charging you a lot of money at the start and which do not offer refunds if you find the school is not good for you.

Private teachers

Often you can learn more from a good private teacher than by joining a school. A private teacher will get to know your particular needs and can concentrate on meeting them without being restricted by school rules and regulations. Often you can build a greater rapport with a private teacher than at a school.

If you are interested in studying with a private teacher, take trial lessons with two or three to find one you are happy with. Avoid private teachers who never seem to do any preparation for lessons (unless of course you just want to practice “free conversation”.

Social events

Many schools run a program of social events such as parties or outings. These are good for two reasons. Firstly, they will give you the opportunity to communicate in English in informal circumstances. Secondly, as you become more familiar with teachers and classmates so you will gain in confidence and learn more in class, eg by being less afraid of making mistakes.

Studying overseas

The best way to learn English is to spend some time immersed in the language and culture of an English speaking country.