DEL VALLE TONOIAN: Honors classes aren’t for everyone

JORDAN DEL VALLE TONOIAN

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There is only one honors courses at Roseville High School – Honors English 10. According to assistant superintendent of instruction and curriculum Jess Borjon, honors courses create a “de facto tracking system in schools where some students are screened in and some students are screened out.”

Honors classes, at least in their implementation at RHS right now, do not hinder a student’s access to a “rigorous curriculum.” In fact they expand it into areas where AP courses are not otherwise offered, exactly where RHS’s course selection implements them.

Honors Pre-Calculus, which had its “honors” status stripped from it earlier this year, bridged the gap between IM3 and AP Calculus. It also offered an incentive to students to enter the Calculus pathway after completing IM3.

The Honors Pre-Calculus class required students to take on a larger workload and take extra classes and without its honors status, it lacks any incentive to do so.

As of the 2016-17 school year, UC schools accept credits from honors classes that satisfy A-G requirements, so the argument that they don’t translate into the real world is a farce.

Why remove the honors status when it’s not doing any harm? To say it discourages students who get intimidated by “honors” in the title from taking it isn’t valid.

To say there’s something wrong with students wanting to challenge themselves because it discourages others is the typical “it has to be for everyone” policy seen commonly in today’s schools.

What’s wrong with students wanting to take more challenging classes? Why do these classes have to be for everyone? It’s not “unfair” to make a harder class that students who barely passed IM2 would be “intimidated” to take. That’s the whole point.

Students who want to take AP Calculus will take Pre-Calculus whether it has the honors designation or not. Those who would be intimidated by it probably wouldn’t even take IM3.

If the district continues to remove honors designations from classes without replacing them with AP classes, the workload of these classes will remain stagnant while the reward for it crashes and burns.

Honors English 10 is a prime example of this, students may elect to take a Pre-AP English 9 class in their freshman year that prepares them for AP. Except an AP English class does not exist in our course selection for sophomore year, only an honors course.

In this case it makes sense to remove the honors designation from the sophomore English class and upgrade the curriculum to an AP or a Pre-AP one.