Encouraging Bright Students to Apply for Honors Courses

Encouraging students to strive for the highest academic achievements is an integral part of a teacher’s job.As the year progresses and teachers see the strengths and weaknesses of each student’s academic performance it is crucial to take some time to see which students seem to be in the right academic track and which are placed either below or above their academic ability levels.

Students and parents are sometimes pushy about trying to move up into the Honors track. However, there are many students do not think to take the important step of trying to gain placement in this elevated level.Students who do move up may have an easier time gaining acceptance into elite colleges. Thus students who are bright and motivated should be encouraged to think about placement in the Honors track for the upcoming school year.

Discrimination: A Reality

Teachers sometimes notice that placement in the Honors track is not always an “equal opportunity” experience.Sometimes in a very diverse school population one will see a class with students who are almost all Caucasian. This is an alarming experience because it shows that tracking, typically done by guidance counselors, may still have a bias that disfavors ethnic students.That's why it's important for the teacher to be proactive and encourage all students who are bright and motivated to apply to the Honors track for the upcoming year.

Write Letters of Recommendation For Students

Be proactive and write a letter of recommendation for any student you feel has the academic potential and motivation to do well in an Honor track class.Give a copy of the letter to the student, a copy to the student’s guidance counselor, and put a copy of the letter in the student's class file.The guidance department may not be thrilled to see teachers making tracking recommendations. Sometimes a teacher will get a tiny reprimand for encouraging students to try to move up to the Honors track.The guidance department prefers to work in isolation sometimes, but teacher input is important, too. So be brave and give the recommendation letters to guidance; you are doing the right thing.

Meet with each student you give a recommendation letter to and tell him why you feel he has the potential to do well in the Honors track. Talk to each student about their grades for the school year, achievement on standardized tests, their motivation, and their work ethic. Encourage the students to strive for the highest academic achievements while in high school.

Talk to Parents

After you give the letter of recommendation to the student, also call the parents and inform them that you believe the student has the potential to move up to an Honors track class. Parents are always happy, but many will have doubts. Reassure them with the student’s overall grades for the year and any standardized test scores that also show high academic potential.

Ask a Grade 12 Student to Talk to Students About Honors Classes

Perhaps you have a grade 12 student, or another teacher could offer a volunteer from his or her class, who could talk to your Honors track nominees about what these classes involve.This would help students gain confidence about moving up to Honors classes. It would give them “real world” knowledge about the challenges they may wish to pursue.

Many grade 12 students would probably be delighted to talk to your students about how to maximize their academic achievements during the high school years.