Texas Middle School Program for AP Spanish
Program Summary History Implementation Evaluation Participants Links Contacts <empty> Home
AP Spanish Middle School Project sun logo.
Skip to navigation

Program Summary

"Students experienced increased confidence in themselves and in their academic abilities. Parents of participating students became more involved in their children's schools, and teachers involved in the pilot project felt rejuvenated and more motivated in the classroom."

Research shows that the rigor of academic coursework that a student undertakes in school is key to predicting whether or not that student will go on to college and succeed there. Yet, historically, minority students have not been well represented in college-preparatory courses. To open up opportunities for college success for the state’s Spanish-speaking students, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) created the Texas Middle School Program for AP* Spanish in 2000 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The basic format of the program is to offer AP Spanish Language to students whose heritage language is Spanish while they are still in middle school. The underlying idea is to turn these students’ native language into an academic asset, allowing them to take advanced courses early in their school careers. By introducing students to a more challenging academic standard in middle school the program opens up pathways to college.

Demonstrating the program’s extraordinary success, each year an overwhelming majority of participating middle school students score high enough on the AP Spanish Language examination to be eligible for college credit. Students also experience:

  • Increased confidence in themselves and in their academic abilities;
  • Fewer disciplinary problems and absences;
  • Improved performance in other classes;
  • Increased enrollment in other honors and AP courses in high school;
  • Enhanced perceptions of college as an attainable, realistic goal; and
  • Improved skills that transfer to other test-taking experiences, including the state testing program.

In addition, parents of participating students became more involved in their children’s schools, and teachers involved in the pilot project felt rejuvenated and more motivated in the classroom.

As schools and districts have refined and expanded their programs, they have found it beneficial to involve a broad range of school staff at both the middle and high school levels thus widening the potential impact of the program. For example, Spanish teachers at all levels have worked together to vertically align the Spanish curriculum, to design Pre-AP* classes in sixth and seventh grade, and to examine language offerings at the elementary level. Middle and high school counselors have worked with participating students and their parents to shape coherent four-year high school plans. Administrators—whose support is critical to program success—have worked with teachers, staff, and school board members to promote the Texas Middle School Program for AP Spanish districtwide and to shape local policy related to the program.

Building an inclusive and supportive program implementation team is one critical component for program success. However, one of the lessons learned through the pilot and project scale-up is that there is no single formula for program success. Early implementers of the program represented a diverse range of communities across the state—large, suburban, metropolitan, small, and rural. These districts tailored the program guidelines and recommended approaches to their own unique situations. As the population of Spanish-speaking students continues to grow, our hope is that middle schools across the state will recognize the tremendous value of the program and use the program implementation resources to create a Texas Middle School Program for AP Spanish tailored to their own local needs and contexts.