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Overriding for High School Honors

ruthstoopsruthstoops Registered User Posts: 50 Junior Member
Hello there! TIA to all who have helped previously as my grade 8 son figures out grade 9 classes. He was recommended for honors math, physics and Latin and the mid-tier level for history and English We have been told by several high school kids that we should go for honors English. My son's teacher told him that she was leaning towards recommending the mid-tier level, but wanted to wait to see how the rest of his schedule shook out. Which i guess means, if he had several honors, she would recommend mid-tier? I'm not sure. In any case, if you have overridden a recommendation, how did you express this to the school? How much pushback?
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Replies to: Overriding for High School Honors

  • NJWrestlingmomNJWrestlingmom Registered User Posts: 850 Member
    D21’s school has a formal appeals process and they rarely give in. S17’s school would fold and require the parent to sign off saying you went against their advice. It depends on the school.
  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 Registered User Posts: 4,573 Senior Member
    This is very school dependent. At DD's HS, placement was about almost exclusively done via entrance exam scores and essays.

    We fought her Spanish placement because they automatically started students in Spanish I or IB and DD has two years of Spanish in middle school. There was no formal placement test for foreign language but, the head of the department gave DD a written and oral exam. We also needed a LOR from her middle school Spanish teacher along with a copy of the syllabus. All worked out but lots of hoops to jump through.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,501 Senior Member
    1. How well is the student doing in middle school history and English, as well as math, science, and Latin?

    2. Is honors track placement based on grades in current course, or is there some other factor involved?

    3. Can the student move up to honors later in high school after doing well in a regular course?
  • ruthstoopsruthstoops Registered User Posts: 50 Junior Member
    @ucbalumnus 1. His grades are all A or A- and usually one B plus. This worries me as I guess I see middle school as a time of great grade inflation. His math is already honors and even though his current teacher seems to be grading very aggressively, he was recommended for honors with no question. 2. There is little clear answer on this. They seem to be keeping their number of honors recs very low - I believe the English teacher said 5 percent should be in honors and 90 percent in mid-tier. For a very overachieving area where the state stats are strong, this seems very low to me. I would add we have gotten nearly nothing back from this teacher all year. 3. He can move up but only in the following year. And I'm not sure then that you can actually choose - at that point you might need to cross the threshold. At this point, we can override. Many if not most people override on one course. That's my impression. But of course they don't like it.
  • momtogirls2momtogirls2 Registered User Posts: 624 Member
    As a parent I would email or try to talk to the 8th grade ELA teacher and ask what the reasons are for and/or against honors English. There may be a valid reason not to take it and even though high school kids say honors they may not know the true educational needs. That said our school strongly encourages going for the more advanced class if in doubt because it is easier to drop down a level then to move up after school starts. What are the 3 levels? We only have 2 if you don't count AP.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,501 Senior Member
    Are English and history his lowest grades, while he earns better grades in the other courses?
  • ruthstoopsruthstoops Registered User Posts: 50 Junior Member
    @ucbalumnus No - they bounce around the A, A minus and the one B plus. But there are more A minuses overall than A's. He seems borderline to me on this many honors. @momtogirls2 Our school seems the opposite. They seem to be consolidating on honors. And giving people the scare that you can't easily drop down without messing up your schedule. Many kids DO drop down but it seems mostly in history or math/science. I think they don't allow AP in freshman year. The 3 levels are Honors, Advanced College Placement and College placement. The last is for any subject in which a child is REALLY struggling.
  • MAmom111MAmom111 Registered User Posts: 35 Junior Member
    edited March 7
    I think 3 honors classes are plenty, esp if he is currently getting some A minuses and an occasional b+, and if you think there is grade inflation (which I also see at our middle school). Many kids are shocked at how hard high school is compared to middle school, esp if you are in a high achieving high school ( we are as well). The stress for freshmen can be overwhelming, why try to make it even more stressful? If he finds he can handle the work, he can move up the next year. My current freshman is going to take 3 honors next year, he took 2 this year and had no issues. My D who is now a junior took two her freshman year and dropped to none sophomore year as the stress was too much for her. And she was a straight A+/A student in middle school. Junior year she took 1 honors and 1 AP and next year she'll take 2 AP's and 1 honors. My point is that nothing is permanently "locked in" freshman year. They can move around from year to year.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 74,501 Senior Member
    Seems like your middle and high schools have a bad combination of:

    A. Lack of transparency in deciding which track the student is placed in (decreases parent/student trust in the placement recommendations).
    B. Lack of flexibility in changing tracks later in high school (makes these placement decisions in middle school higher stakes than they really should be).

    Unfortunately, this means that you are second-guessing the placement recommendations from the school, and an incorrect placement could be more damaging to his educational progress than it otherwise could be.
  • ruthstoopsruthstoops Registered User Posts: 50 Junior Member
    does anyone have an opinion on my son's grades vis a vis honors? personally i don't think A minuses and the stray B plus is a mostly honors kid. this is a bone of contention with my husband; he thinks this is all fine, but i personally think a mostly honors kid gets all A's in middle school with the stray A minus.

    it doesn't sound like a standard way of doing it. i'm hearing some teachers have a 'point' system. no idea if that's all kids.
  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 Registered User Posts: 4,573 Senior Member
    The grade question is totally school dependent. I would ask the middle school GC about grade distribution.

  • 4gsmom4gsmom Registered User Posts: 630 Member
    In our school (your mileage may vary) it is much, much easier to move down a level in a class than it is to move up. Our general protocol has been to start high and move down if my child has to. Four daughters and only one moved down over the years (honors chem to cp chem when taking all other honors classes - and she still went to college for STEM - go figure.)
  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 9,323 Senior Member
    I think the key is how does your son handle stress and overload? If he has shown that he knows how to triage during high work load periods, then I'd be inclined to encourage him to start out with an aggressive schedule and move down later if he needs to. If he's a kid who shows signs of falling apart when he's got too much to do, or is the type to stay up until 1 am doing an extra credit project, I'd be inclined to give him that first year of high school to adjust to more demanding work without the risk of ruining his childhood/adolescence with unneeded pressure.

    You know your kid- we don't. I had one who liked a challenge- lots of them- but never flinched at getting a B (or even a C) as long as the work was interesting and he was surrounded by "smart kids". I had another who had perfectionist tendencies- which we watched carefully.

    I don't think you should be too concerned about his grades right now and what they tell you- there is a LOT of busy work in many middle schools, and so the grades aren't terribly useful IMHO at predicting what kind of challenges your son can/should be able to handle.

    Does he read for pleasure? I think that's key for the highest level of HS English. If the idea of spending a weekend with Jane Austen sounds yukky to him- there's your answer.
  • tutumom2001tutumom2001 Registered User Posts: 1,082 Senior Member
    I think you need to sit down with his current teacher and have a conference. One thing about English is that there are different components that comprise the average middle-school English class - sentence grammar, creative writing, reading comprehension, etc. It could be that he struggles slightly in one of the areas that might not make him the strongest candidate for the highest level. I remember D20 mentioning something about how there were kids in her freshman honors English class who were great at understanding a novel but weak in diagramming sentences, and they had a hard time with the class.
  • wis75wis75 Registered User Posts: 13,631 Senior Member
    The big question is- do you want your son to go for it or settle? If he tries as many honors classes as possible he is likely to be with the same peer group in more classes. How does he feel about having an easier time of it or pushing himself? Could some of his grades come from boredom? Does he feel comfortable with the level of students in his classes?

    Hopefully your goal is to maximize his education, not grades. I'm sure there is a mechanism to allow students who struggle with honors to go back to regular, even if just the following year. Getting lesser grades freshman year will not be a disaster for college ands will teach him his limits. He will never know how much he can do if he settles. However, if he really has no desire to try honors then you have an answer about his willingness to take on the challenge. In later years he may thank you for that little push.

    Aside- we never diagrammed sentences in HS English- what a waste of time. Some of us placed into the UW Honors version of required lit (no AP back then)- and one went on to become a UC-Berkeley English prof. We did well with grammar through reading and writing. Who cares what labels someone chooses?
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