PLACE NYC Calls for Honors Classes in Every Middle School

PLACE NYC supports parents calling on the NYC Department of Education to offer Honors classes in all core subjects in every middle school. Over 500 parents and guardians have signed a petition in support of Honors classes. 

For the past three years, many middle schools across the city quietly eliminated academic programs that meet the needs of advanced learners, using the pandemic as a pretext. Mayor Adams campaigned on a promise of gifted education for EVERY child who needs it and many parents supported him for that reason. By delegating middle school admissions and curricula to districts, some superintendents have ignored the demands from parents and refused to offer sufficient Honors programs. In other words, students are not being taught at their level.

Academically advanced students are an afterthought in districts that did not reinstate merit-based accelerated programs in Middle School. In District 20, a parent reported that her child with a 97 average did not gain entry to one of the city’s top accelerated middle schools, I.S. 187, while another student in the same school with an 85 average was admitted. This lottery based admission sends the clear signal to students that hard work does not pay and will not be rewarded. 

Maggie Boyd, a retired NYC teacher who designed and taught an accelerated middle school math class for over a decade, explained, “Everyone learns differently and at their own pace. Our education system has a responsibility to cater to the academic needs of all our students, but often our high-achieving students are neglected. It’s crucial for schools to offer honors classes in middle school as a one size fits all approach simply doesn’t work. 

Ms. Boyd further shared that, “Throughout my years of working with high-level students, I’ve been constantly amazed by what they can handle. I firmly believe that we are underestimating our students’ potential to learn more than we think and that we are doing students a disservice by standardizing a course. We must provide opportunities for students to thrive in the classroom. This includes offering curricula that are rigorous, engaging, and rich, as well as creating a learning environment that fosters curiosity, creativity, and a desire to learn more.”

Chien Kwok, co-President of PLACE NYC said “Accelerated curriculum for high performing low income disadvantaged students in public school classrooms with high performing peers is the ladder to success in higher education, career and life. Unlike students from wealthy families who can afford outside academic support, low income students must rely on the public school system.” 

At a time when standards are being lowered to disguise the needs of struggling students, New York’s advanced learners are even more bored and unchallenged, leading to learning resistance and social struggles. During one of the most vulnerable periods of a child’s life, it is unconscionable to allow children to stagnate academically, denying them the opportunity for growth and to reach their potential.