Quantcast

New standards proposed for freshman honors credit at ETHS

Freshmen who hope to earn “honors” credit in Humanities next year at Evanston Township High School would have to demonstrate superior achievement during the semester in order to get it, under an administration proposal to be considered by the District 202 school board Monday night.

Freshmen who hope to earn “honors” credit in Humanities next year at Evanston Township High School would have to demonstrate superior achievement during the semester in order to get it, under an administration proposal to be considered by the District 202 school board Monday night.

No longer would freshmen be able to enroll in a straight-honors class based upon their scores on a standardized test given while they were still in middle school.

The objective, outlined in the proposal to be reviewed by the board, is to increase the achievement of all students and to point the way for high achievers to qualify for honors and advance placement courses in their sophomore, junior, and senior years.

Under the current model, the administration notes, many non-white students are excluded from pathways to honors and AP classes before they even step foot into the high school.

If the administration proposal is adopted, all freshmen next fall would take either 1 Humanities or 1 Humanities with Support, the latter being designed for students who need more attention in order to be able to read high school-level texts and materials. Humanities is an inter-disciplinary course that combines English and history. The same approach would be taken the following year with freshman biology.

“Our top students will benefit,” according to the proposal, “because there will be more consistency in holding our classes to very high standards, and all students in 1 Humanities will benefit from being in highly rigorous classes. Moreover, all students at ETHS will benefit from our school having higher overall student achievement, and that will even increase the ranking of ETHS.”

Classes that contain both regular and honors students have existed at the school for some time, with honors students being required to do more work, such as an additional paper, a longer paper, or additional readings, but the requirements have been somewhat different than those experienced by students in the straight-honors classes. The new arrangement is designed to eliminate such discrepancies by requiring all students to meet the same high standards for receiving honors credit.

The proposal is expected to meet resistance from some parents who fear that by putting all students in the same class, there will be a tendency for teachers to exert extra effort with the lower-achieving students, thereby “dumbing down” the curriculum for the better students.

The administration contends, however, that “by challenging more students with rigorous classes and providing a strong system of supports to ensure their mastery, ETHS can increase the achievement of every student,” noting that the course would be closely aligned with standards developed for the nationally recognized International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement programs.

An indication that the administration might need some extra time to convince parents, teachers, and board members of the proposal’s merits is that time has been set aside for discussion at the next four Board meetings, set for Nov. 8, 22, and 29 and Dec. 13. The board meets at 7:30 p.m. in Room N-112 at the high school at 1600 Dodge Ave. 

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

Editors’ Picks