Department may no longer offer on-level U.S. history

Department may no longer offer on-level U.S. history

All on-level students may be moved into Honors classes.

By By Stacey Stein, Online Breaking News

The social studies department is making plans to stop offering on-level U.S. History, leaving freshmen to choose between taking honors or AP.

According to Principal Joan Benz, this change is being made in order to ensure all students are getting equal education, to challenge students, and to ensure students are pushing themselves to their full potential.

“It will give all students an opportunity for rigorous education and an opportunity to stretch and grow,” Benz said. “I’ve found that when students are in an invigorating atmosphere, they push themselves to be successful.”

According to social studies resource teacher Rodney Van Tassell, this change has been in progress for a long time, starting in middle schools, where all students take one level of history.

“When students come here they will have already experienced three years of the middle school advanced curriculum,” Van Tassell said. “It seems like a natural progression to continue with the advanced curriculum.”

Both Benz and Van Tassell believe that all students will be able to handle the honors curriculum.

“The class will not be watered down,” Benz said. “It will have the same integrity it’s always had.”
However, a teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, is not as confident that the administration will live up to this promise.

“They don’t want the honors to be watered down, but if we aren’t getting the results we want it may end up happening,” the teacher said. “At the beginning it won’t be watered down, but we’ll have to see if it works. The expectation is that honors will remain honors regardless of the population.”

The teacher also is not certain that all students will be able to handle the honors level class work.

“Some students will benefit from stepping up, but for some students, an honors U.S. history class may be more challenging than they would like,” the teacher said. “Having a regular class could help them get acclimated so they could take honors in the future.”

However, according to Van Tassell, part of the reason for placing all students in honors or AP is to better prepare students for future honors and AP classes.

“The administration feels as though keeping the students heterogeneously grouped is the best way to achieve the school improvement goal of increasing enrollment in honors and AP classes,” Van Tassell said. “If the expectation is that you can pass an AP class, then we should be teaching these skills from the day you walk through the door.”

However, CHS parent Denise Schleckser, chair of the Counseling Advisory Committee, is worried that some students are not capable of handling the honors coursework and that pushing them into this class could increase student stress levels.

“It takes away options some students need to have to be successful,” Schleckser said. “It should be up to the students how many honors, AP or on-level classes they want to take.”

However, after meeting with Benz, Van Tassell and assistant administrator John Taylor, Schleckser acknowledges that there could be benefits.

“We didn’t realize where it was coming from, but we understand more now,” Schleckser said. “They have resources in place available to help students.”

 Freshman Emily Russ chose to take on-level history, and although she believes she could have succeeded in honors, she is glad she had the option of on-level.

“I’m glad I took on-level,” Russ said. “I feel like it’s a good pace, and I’m learning a lot. I think I would still get a good grade in honors, but on-level was the easier option.”

According to the teacher who wishes to remain anonymous, some students are capable of taking honors, but they are afraid to take it. This change could push these students into taking the honors class, where they could be successful.

According to the teacher, this year, some students were able to successfully go from on-level to honors after first semester.

“It gives them a risk they may not have taken,” the teacher said. “It’s ultimately up to the student. If they’re not willing to put in the extra effort it could have a negative effect.”