Honors and Gifted and Talented Programs

For advanced and above-average intelligent high school students, taking classes in or entering an honors or gifted and talented program could be the best thing for them academically. Taking classes that are more challenging, interacting with similarly smart students and being taught by teachers trained in dealing with honors or GT kids can raise their grades, help them get into a competitive college and boost their self esteem. Each GT or honors program differs by school, so before you place your child in the program, learn more about it by speaking with the teachers or administrators.

A basic public school curriculum can also vary dramatically from state to state. But generally, public schools require students to take four English classes, typically in language arts and literature; three science classes including biology, chemistry and physics; four mathematics classes including pre-algebra, algebra I and II and trigonometry; four social studies classes including world history, U.S. history, government and economics and accounting and a variety of electives and physical education classes. For students that are recognized as gifted and talented, or in honors classes, they might take advanced versions of these courses like geology, calculus, statistics and advanced English.

There are several forms of GT and honors programs. An enrichment style program keeps the gifted student in the same classroom as their peers, but provides them with extra material or homework to challenge them. Accelerated programs often skip a gifted student ahead to grades that provide more appropriate material that matches their abilities. Full time separate GT or honors classes group all the gifted students into their own classrooms and provide them with highly trained teachers that are better equipped to meet their educational needs. Advanced Placement (AP) classes are another way for gifted students to be academically challenged. Students are provided with college level material and if they pass the end of course exam, can receive college credit for the class.

Currently there is no recognized standard for identifying gifted and talented or honors students. Some schools use grade point averages, IQ test scores and standardized test scores as measures of intelligence and ability to participate in the program. The use of IQ tests has been a highly controversial subject since the inception of GT programs and has traditionally been viewed as elitist, biased or simply poor indicators of true intelligence.

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