To Be in Honors, or Not to Be in Honors

Our youngest daughter recently came home facing the decision of whether for the next school year she should go into ‘honors’ math class or the regular math class. We haven’t really faced this before, as the right decision for each of our two older children was straightforward, although different for each. I have seen the angst it has has caused in other families. The stress was particularly acute in those cases where placement was decided by a single test result.

Fortunately in our case, there was no single test to worry about. A second source of stress can come from worrying about how a placement decision will affect the child’s distant future. For a middle-schooler, college and life after college is a long way off. This actually makes the decision easier, as the only criteria is: What is in best interest of the child now? Where can the child have the right balance of challenge and success? That still might not be easy to figure out, but it is a whole lot easier than worrying about whether your daughter won’t be CEO someday because she didn’t take honor’s algebra in middle school.

Math Honors: Coping With Unexpected Stress

So how did our daughter’s case work out? Well, she initially wanted one direction. Her parents and teacher after talking with each other, thought a different course was best. And at least for a while longer, it is clear who has final say. If you have had to face a placement decision, how did your family handle it?

  • Donna H

    I am a high school mathematics teacher, but did spend one year teaching at the junior high level. Fortunately for the students in my school district, the junior high mathematics teacher and I spend a lot of time collaborating about what we expected at the different levels of mathematics. I am not a believer in placement tests since I am a great example of a poor test taker. What we base placement on is teacher recommendation. Of course, parents have the final say, but in all honesty the teachers are the ones that know what your child is capable of and what they struggle with. Also it is easier for a child to retake a class at the junior high level as opposed to the high school level.

  • Byron Bishop

    I agree teachers should have the dominate role in deciding placement. If it wasn’t clear in the original post, it was the teacher’s recommendation that swayed us, the parents, to push our daughter in a different direction from what was her original desire.

    I am glad to hear to placement tests are not used in your district.

  • I’ve just saved this posting in Quadriot, cheers.