Editorial: Equal honors credit options

Most students are aware that Schreiber offers an array of both honors and AP courses. However, certain subjects are easier to obtain honors credit for than others.  Earning honors or AP credit has a significant impact on a student’s overall GPA.  Schreiber should ensure that all students possess an equal opportunity to obtain honors credit for a given subject.  

For English courses, students have the option to receive honors credit without having to take an honors or AP class.  All students are given the opportunity to complete the honors project every year of high school except senior year.  Even students who are not particularly fond of English can still receive honors credit by putting in the extra time and effort.  Additionally, AP Writing, an English elective, is offered to juniors.  However, students who do not choose to take this class can still gain honors credit in their normal English class, a unique opportunity not offered within other departments.  

Receiving honors credit for social studies courses functions similarly to the system used for English courses.  Although an honors project is only offered in ninth grade, students are re-evaluated to take an honors social studies course each year.  For instance, if a student does not take AP Euro in tenth grade, they simply need to score above an 88 on the global midterm to have the opportunity to take AP United States History the following year.  Additionally, teacher recommendations are not required if students want to take two AP social studies courses in their senior year. 

Math and science courses, on the other hand, are treated differently.  The only way a student can receive honors credit for these two subjects is by taking an honors or AP course.  Moreover, students in the same grade can take a completely different science or math course than their peers, making it difficult to opt into an honors class.

In sixth grade, all students take a test that determines if they will be taking advanced math courses for the rest of their high school career.  If a student doesn’t qualify for advanced math in middle school, that student, in most cases, won’t have another opportunity to take an honors or AP math class until twelfth grade, which is six-day AP Calculus.  Th       is seems unfair, since a student’s learning ability is vastly different in middle school compared to high school.  In middle school, students are still adjusting to a new learning style and may still be unsure of what their strong subjects are.  Although students do have the option to opt into math courses at Schreiber, it is not recommended by the school.  To opt into a class, a student needs to get permission from their parents and contact the guidance department.  This is vastly different from the process of gaining honors credit for an English or social studies class, where a student simply has to sign up for the honors project, receive a certain score on a test, or tell their guidance counselor that they are interested in taking an honors class the following year. 

Even if a student does decide to opt into an honors math class, it is often very difficult for them to excel because the first few months of the class usually entail reviewing material from the previous year.  Since that student just opted into an honors course for the first time, they find themselves immediately behind, often leading to that student dropping the class and going back into a regular course. 

Science classes function similarly to math courses, with students usually following the same path from middle school.  However, students are still able to opt into an honors science course after taking a regents course the previous year. 

Essentially, it is easier for students to receive honors credit for social studies and English classes than math and science classes.  An equal playing field would be created if Schreiber began to offer a science or math honors project or an exam to see if students can opt into honors math or science courses.  These implementations would provide students with an equal opportunity to gain honors credit in all subjects and ensure that those who are profound in math or science don’t have an advantage in obtaining a higher GPA than students who may prefer english or social studies classes.