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Honorable Mention

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At many competitive high schools, traditional honors courses are all but disappearing from the curriculum, as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs grow more influential, according to an article in The Washington Post.

Honors courses, according to the article, generally give students a chance to learn at a faster pace than in regular classes, but without necessarily going into the college-level material required in AP and IB classes. Their decline has left a gap for some students. “There are some students who are just honor students,” said a high school junior at Rockville High in Maryland. “They don’t have the ability to push themselves into AP. They’re too smart to be in regular classes.”

Some students and parents believe their schools are strategically cutting back on honors offerings as a way push more students into AP and IB classes, which can boost a school’s reputation. For example, Newsweek’s annual ranking of the top high schools in America, just published for 2008, is based in part on student participation in college-level courses.

School administrators argue, however, that they are merely trying to simplify their academic tracks and avoid overlapping courses. “We thought it was very health to have simply two choices,” said Gail Hubbard, supervisor of advanced programs for Prince William County Schools in Virginia.

1 Comment

Ah, I agree that it would be wonderful if we could seperate students into more than two groups based on ability. AP classes for those capable of college work, honors for those definitely college bound but perhaps not ready for college curriculum while in high school, and regular classes for those who are really just trying to get through school and graduate. However, the moment we seperate students into those groups we will have angry parents and community members up at board meetings talking about the "blue bird, red bird" grouping of years past and how it unfairly labeled students and lumped them together, never allowing for advancement. Unfortunately, I can see where even in some high schools, that could very easily occur. If the choice is a more extreme one, like college level work or general ed, then the grouping tends to be more based on actual merit. There are enough problems with parents choosing whether their student is capable of AP work already, and many kids in Pre-AP are failing because of it.

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  • tx teacher: Ah, I agree that it would be wonderful if we read more




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