Letter: De-leveling is not a single issue

Posted 4/1/21

To the editor:

The de-leveling of classes at Barrington High School has devolved into a pro-or-con, all-or-nothing, state of affairs. 

I find this approach to be wrong-headed. While I …

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Letter: De-leveling is not a single issue


To the editor:

The de-leveling of classes at Barrington High School has devolved into a pro-or-con, all-or-nothing, state of affairs. 

I find this approach to be wrong-headed. While I solidly support the elimination of Level 3/conceptual classes, I am equally supportive of the retention of Level 1/honors classes.

It has long been recognized that low-level classes do more harm than good. While the purported, worthy aim of such classes is to proceed slowly so that the students can better grasp the material, the consequence of such classes is often boredom, lowered self-esteem, and stigmatization. When evaluating student applications, all colleges list as their top priority not the student’s grade point average or SAT/ACT scores, but the “rigor of his or her high school curriculum.”

Grades of “A” in Level 3 courses are discounted, and these students often find some colleges unwilling to even consider their applications. A grade of “C” in a regular class is more highly regarded than an “A” in a lower level class. If these students could be combined with the current Level 2 students and given extra academic support, their interest level, self-esteem, and college opportunities would all be enhanced.

Just as “rigor of the high school curriculum” is important to regular level students, it is even more important to high level students, those seeking admission to highly competitive/elite colleges and universities and those seeking academic scholarships. Homogenizing classes would be particularly detrimental to these students when they try to compete against students from high schools with honors—not just AP—classes throughout their high school years. The reduction of honors classes is certain to result in numerous high level students being removed from BHS in order to attend more rigorous private and boarding schools.

Students who register for honors classes at BHS do so because they want more challenging courses. Unlike most high schools, BHS does not give extra credit for grades in honors classes. Sometimes this results in students not being eligible for the National Honor Society, which requires a 3.6 GPA, because they have earned some “Bs” in their honors classes. Nevertheless, they prefer the more challenging class discussions and homework assignments, including reading books by more intellectually demanding authors and conquering “C” level math problems. Since pacing is often different for Level 1 and Level 2 classes, in order to allow for more reinforcement of the concepts for Level 2 learners, higher level students in a regular level class might be able to finish their homework very quickly, which could negatively affect their work ethic and leave them unprepared for AP courses and college classes in the future.

Although guidance counselors and teachers may recommend that students take or not take honors classes, the decision ultimately rests with the students. Those who want to try the more rigorous classes can do so. A Blue Ribbon school should offer all students the opportunity to reach their full potential. The elimination of Level 3 classes and the retention of Level 1 classes accomplish this goal.

Cindy Kaplan


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