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It takes more than grades to succeed in honors

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AK SHONEN norai tiado Utes, hek elmarni nenen kinti.

For those of you who couldn’t read that, don’t worry, you don’t need to learn a new language to read the first sentence of this article. It translates to: My husband doesn’t like the Utes, he isn’t a fan of sports.

Without this translation, you would have understood only 1/9 of the first sentence. With no background information, no one would have understood those words or what language it is in. This is how many students feel when they are smart enough to take honors classes, but have been taking non-honors classes for the first part of high school.

Without background information in the curriculum, students frequently find themselves failing and dropping out of honors classes, not because they’re too slow, but because they have no intellectual foundation to build on. Without background information, students find themselves with lowered self-esteem, an inability to reach their full potential, and eventually fail their classes.

If a smart student is clueless to what the teacher is talking about, their confidence deflates greatly. An honors teacher, who is teaching the curriculum at a much quicker and more challenging pace than a non-honors class would, has no time to give their students a recap on the basics. Unfortunately, it’s not the student’s fault that they have no background knowledge.

The job of a teacher is to help students the best he or she can to learn and gain knowledge, in other words, encourage the use of their full potential. Each core class is based on background knowledge, whether it’s math, science, or English.

English 10 and Honors English 10 have similar content, however, where English 10 is mainly writing essays and doing vocabulary, Honors English 10 is packed with projects, grammar exercises, heavy reading, big homework assignments, and professional essays.

Even if students know the basics of English, say they’re a A+ kids, and they transferred to honors English for their sophomore year, many will find themselves overwhelmed by the quick pace and packed content.

Now, this is not to say that honors classes should slow down or remove their homework assignments because some girl in the school newspaper said they should. Instead, I offer some suggestions:

Teachers should make a background study guide from previous grade levels (or a find a textbook) for their new students that come from non-honors classes to help the students catch up. Students, in collaboration, should accept as much help from their honors teachers as they possibly can. Teachers are busy, but they’re there for their students.

Also, teachers should stop blaming significant numbers of F’s in their class on the students. Sometimes — I said sometimes — it’s a sign that teachers haven’t been as communication savvy as they tried to be. Some students will speak their teachers’ language, so those become the A+ students. Other students won’t always understand what their teachers are saying.
In addition, counselors need to understand that some students do not want AP or honors classes because they prefer to pass core classes, rather than fail honors classes.

Students, make sure you understand the demanding nature of the curriculum before you switch into an honors class.

Having an A in a non-honors class and being ahead of everyone else does not necessarily mean that you are prepared for honors. If you don’t like homework, you won’t like honors. If you need your teacher to explain every part of an assignment, honors classes are not for you.

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an open forum for student expression
It takes more than grades to succeed in honors