Earned honors extended to freshman english, science

Megan Burns, Print Editor-In-Chief

   The earned honors program and Mundelein High School is expanding this year: students can now earn honors credit in English and biology in addition to world studies– which began their earned honors system five years ago.

   “English 1 and Biology are starting this transition this year,” Samantha Balbarin, English teacher and instructional coach said. “Beginning next year, there will no longer be any sections of Honors English 1 or Honors Biology, and all sections will be designated Earned Honors.”

   Balbarin also states how this change will be a “more equitable approach” with providing students with work that will “better prepare them with the skills necessary for higher-level courses.”

   “Although all students could take honors and AP level courses beyond freshman year, having a positive experience and earning honors credit when this may not have originally been a students ‘plan’ could open doors for earning credits on their transcripts or even college credit if they choose to take AP classes,” Balbarin said. “This is a ‘gateway’ and has the potential to change a student’s trajectory.” 

   When starting high school, student’s are placed on a certain “track” with the classes they’re put into, according to English teacher Sarah Wilson. This “track” can make it difficult for students to “veer off [of].”

   “There was a need to allow more opportunity to more students,” Wilson said. “This way, all students will start in the same place, can earn honors credit, and then will be given the chance to choose the best route for them at the sophomore level.” 

   Meredith Teuber, English teacher, states how the implementation of the earned honors with more core level classes will help “decrease learning gaps between students” and promote “a more just and equitable curriculum for our student body.”

   But this program also has some downsides, too.

   “Transitioning to earned honors is not an easy task,” Teuber said. “Teachers need to support the varying needs of their students and by eliminating the honors classes there will be a large range of reading abilities and writing abilities in any one given classroom.” 

   Teuber also notes how teachers will need to be able to create lesson plans that “support varying student abilities,” so students can be challenged “but not hitting their frustrational levels” while keeping an “appropriate pace” for students to thrive in.

   This could lead to more stress put on teachers, according to Wilson.

   “There’s more to think about in preparing lessons and assessments,” Wilson said. “If class sizes are large, that could also be challenging because teachers want to be able to help all students reach their fullest potential, but that takes a lot of support which can be difficult to do with a large class.”