Lighthouse Initiative for Texas Classrooms

Introduction to the Lighthouse Initiative for Mathematics Classrooms

One day in the summer of 2001, I was sitting at my computer when I got a phone call from someone at the Texas Education Agency. She told me about a document that had been produced to show how the English/language arts and reading TEKS for grades 7–12 were aligned to Pre-AP* objectives and asked if I was interested in working on a similar project for the mathematics TEKS. I was impressed with the document that the English folks had produced and with teachers' response to it. As an AP* teacher for over a decade, I have a strong belief in the power of the AP program to transform students' lives and open up educational opportunities for them. I am also a big believer in the necessity of a well-planned and coordinated Pre-AP program to enable students from all walks of life to participate in AP classes, if they choose to do so. I knew that producing this document would be a monumental responsibility, but for some reason, agreed to the task.

The first and smartest thing that I have ever done was in convincing/cajoling the people whose names you see in the contacts section to agree to work on it with me. They come from districts all over Texas, teach students from a wide variety of backgrounds and from various grade levels, and have different experiences with the AP program. What they have in common are a strong content background in mathematics and a commitment to opening up the pipeline to advanced mathematics for all Texas students. At our first meeting, we agreed that there were as many ways to build an effective Pre-AP mathematics program as there are districts in Texas. This document does not attempt to prescribe a Pre-AP course description or to dictate to teachers how they should teach their classes. It is intended to provide teachers with some guidelines and ideas about how they can address the TEKS while simultaneously introducing the skills, concepts, and work habits necessary for success in AP mathematics classes. On this site, you will find a set of goals that the Mathematics Lighthouse committee agreed all effective Pre-AP mathematics programs would have in common. We also generated a list of things that ARE NOT indicative of a good Pre-AP program:

  • Pre-AP mathematics classes are not merely re-named honors classes. Much of what you see on this website can be used with students in a regular program. Our purpose is not to "honor" anyone but to open up opportunities for as many students as possible.
  • Pre-AP mathematics classes do not just teach the same old things one year earlier. Pre-AP is not just about accelerating students or topics. It is about teaching with a particular goal in mind and making instructional decisions that will support that goal.

We hope that you will find this Web site useful. The process of producing it certainly had a profound effect on all of those who served on the committee. We understand how important the Pre-AP program is and how daunting it is to get started on something like this. At the same time, we are excited by what we have learned. Since there are so many places where Pre-AP is achieving its goal of providing access to advanced mathematics for more students, we are confident that it can be done in classrooms throughout Texas, that it can be done by us, and that it can be done by you.

Dixie Ross