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Finding the Best Learning Opportunity

Students Should Be in Classes Where They Can Perform Best in

Photo by Taylor Flowe on Unsplash

Unlike most other schools in the country, Maclay offers advanced honors classes in addition to regular, honors and AP classes. While regular, honors and advanced honors classes teach the same subject, they all differ in terms of how the class is taught, the number of topics covered and the depth they go into. Compared to regular and honors classes, advanced honors classes involve more rigorous coursework and therefore prepare students for the AP class of the same subject. For this reason, only a limited number of students get into advanced honors based on various factors, including their grades, effort in class, teacher recommendation, course selection from the previous year and occasionally performance on a placement test. However, these standards have been taken less seriously in recent years for some classes, leading to too many students being enrolled in advanced honors. While advanced honors classes challenge students and teach them more in-depth, it is more important for some students to be in a class that suits them and helps them maximize their learning experience.

When students are placed in a higher level of class than what they should be in, one of the biggest problems is that they tend to have trouble following the class. Since advanced honors covers a lot more information, moves forward at a faster pace and requires more class work, students who are not ready for these class settings will face greater difficulties with understanding what they are learning. One of the most common reasons students want to take advanced honors classes is that unlike regular classes graded out of 4.0 and honors classes graded out of 4.5, advanced honors classes are graded out of 4.75, which increases the student’s chance of getting a higher GPA. However, the lack of clear understanding will not only affect their grades but also decrease their interest in the subject. In order to truly comprehend and enjoy the class materials, students should be placed in a class that reflects their skills and willingness to put in the effort.

Another issue that occurs when too many students are enrolled in advanced honors without a valid reason is that it harms the overall class environment. When a considerable number of students show a lack of comprehension, teachers face issues in terms of how fast they should teach students. That is, in order to help students perform better on quizzes or tests, teachers consider spending more time on each unit in class. While this might temporarily fix the issue, the following problem is that the class could become too slow, easy and even boring for other students who are properly placed in advanced honors. Moreover, students might not be able to learn everything that they would normally learn because when the class is taught at a slower pace, teachers become less likely to complete the course by the end of the school year. As a result, letting too many students take advanced honors can affect learning opportunities for their classmates as well.

It is important to fix this problem because when it happens, it is likely to continue in the following years. One of the considerations when letting students take a higher-level class is their course selection from the previous year, especially for some AP classes that have prerequisites. Therefore, students taking advanced honors are more likely to be assigned in advanced honors or AP the next year, while those taking honors have relatively less opportunity to challenge themselves the next year. In order to foster an environment that offers equal learning opportunities to everyone who is willing to learn and work hard, it is crucial that students are carefully placed in each class that they belong.

Even though advanced honors classes require more effort and time commitment than regular or honors classes, they also provide an opportunity for students to challenge themselves and develop their academic skills. If an individual is willing to put in the effort that is needed, taking more academically demanding classes can be a good decision that will prepare them to further challenge themselves in the future. Particularly for students who plan to take an AP class, the advanced honors class of the same subject gives them a sense of what to expect from the AP class.

However, unless the individual is willing to embrace the challenge, taking the class will only negatively affect learning opportunities for many people. Therefore, it is necessary for students to take more factors into their account when choosing the classes they want to take. To help them make the best decisions, advanced honors teachers are also encouraged to explain to students what their classes will look like and how they will differ from honors and regular classes. Once students complete their course selection requests, it will also be helpful for teachers to reinforce placement tests, if not already being done, to help all students end up in their right place. When students are in classes that reflect their skills and amount of effort, they will eventually have better performance, better grades and better overall learning experience.


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Andy Poll

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