Honors Criteria Frequently Asked Questions
MIDDLE SCHOOL HONORS CLASSES
Honors courses in English Language Arts and Social Science are offered for highly advanced academic students who have consistently demonstrated skills above grade level. (Math levels are assigned according to placement tests and teacher referrals.) Please read the criteria and FAQ's below to help determine if your student can benefit from honors classes.
Honors Criteria for English Language Arts and Social Science
Honors courses are provided for highly advanced academic students who have consistently demonstrated skills above grade level. The criteria for recommending a student from his or her current placement in a regular level class to an honors placement for the following school year are described below. To be recommended for Honors English Language Arts and/or Social Science students must:
- Consistently score advanced on in-class writing samples.
- Score Standard Exceeded on ELA CAASPP assessments.
- Score 80th percentile or greater on Renaissance STAR Reading assessments [nationally normed percentile rank]
- Student performance is characterized by a consistent mastery of grade level standards.
- Demonstrate strong inferential reading comprehension; see beneath the surface of the material; easily grasp the nuances of the reading material.
- Demonstrate outstanding writing skills employing logical reasoning, critical thinking, and mature insights; possess an above grade level vocabulary and use it correctly.
- Possess a strong work ethic and consistently complete work of the highest quality on time.
- Work independently with excellent time management skills.
- Seek challenges and work for the intrinsic rather than the extrinsic reward.
- Want to improve – seek, accept, and learn from criticism with a positive attitude
- Recognize and commit to the demands of the Honors English Language Arts/ Social Science program. This may include weekend homework.
Current Students in College Preparatory Classes: A student not currently enrolled in an honors class meeting the above criteria may have his or her name submitted by the current Language Arts and/or Social Science teachers to the applicable honors review committee[s]. Parents whose student meets the above criteria and would like their student to be considered should contact their student's current Language Arts and/or Social Science teachers via email by a designated date in May. The applicable Honors Committee[s] will review all student materials and make the final decision on the appropriate placement for the following school year.
Continued Placement: Students enrolled in an honors class must maintain a "B" or higher semester grade in order to remain in the honors class. In the best interests of the child, students with less than an 80% will automatically be placed in a regular level class at the semester.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I know my student belongs in honors?
A: Your student should: complete homework without prompting, reads and comprehends at a high academic level, understands concepts beyond grade level, enjoys complex problem solving, reasons through complicated tasks independently, probes beyond the “how” and the “what” to the “why,” and is both developmentally ready for a rigorous course and willing to persevere through challenges.
Q: Does honors follow the same standards as college preparatory classes?
A: All classes follow the California State Standards for either English Language Arts or Social Science. The honors course does not follow different standards from college preparatory classes. Honors provides more depth and complexity, while still covering the same content that is covered in a college preparatory class.
Q: If your child is enrolled in solely college preparatory classes throughout middle school, will their skill sets be adequate for the child to be successful in high school AP or honors courses?
A: Students in college preparatory classes in middle school are taught the skills needed to succeed in honors and AP courses in high school. Many students take a college preparatory path in middle school, and later advance to honors, AP, IB, and AP Capstone courses in high school. In fact, the experience of being a top student in a college preparatory class can often build the self-confidence it takes to excel in an advanced high school course.
Q: Is honors in middle school a prerequisite for high school honors or AP courses?
A: Students do not need to be in honors classes in middle school to qualify for high school honors or AP courses. Students can qualify for honors and AP course through college preparatory classes. In fact, many high school courses are eliminating their prerequisite requirements in an effort to open up additional access to honors and AP course.
Q: Does my child need to qualify each semester for honors coursework?
A: Students have to maintain a “B” (80%) or higher of the semester grading period. In the best interests of the child, any student receiving a C or lower in an honors course will be placed in a college preparatory course for the following semester. If the student excels in the college preparatory placement, he/she may apply for the honors coursework in future years.
Q: Can my child transfer into an honors course during the school year?
A: Students cannot transfer mid-year into an honors course. If they qualify, they can be placed into the honors course at the beginning of the school year. The one exception may be a situation where the student has relocated from a different school district.
Q: If my child feels that an honors course isn’t the best fit during the school year, can he or she transfer out of the class and into a college prep class?
A: Yes, families can decided to transfer out at any time during the year. Parents should contact their subject area teacher and the counseling department to discuss the best option for the child.
Q: What is the difference between the honors and GATE programs?
A: The honors program maintains a traditional class schedule at their school site. Students in the honors program tend to have high academic performance and advanced test scores. The classes are aimed at challenging students at a higher academic level. The GATE program has an ELA/HSS cohort based schedule. Students in these classes have a gifted IQ. For more information about our GATE program, please click here.
Q: Is there honors science and math?
A: There is no honors science. Math has levels based on the math placement test given at the end of 5th grade or upon enrollment. Math has a variety of levels designed to meet the needs of your child - including Math 6, Math 6 High, and Math 6 Accelerated.
Q: Are student to teacher ratios different from honors and college preparatory courses?
A: Student to teacher ratios do not differ from honors and college prep courses. Each year, class sizes are determined by the number of students enrolled in each course and can vary from site to site.
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