The high school weighs benefits and risks of dual-leveled classes


Nick Eddinger

Junior Maria Harris (right), a student in Kimball’s French IV honors-advanced class, engages in a discussion. In dual-leveled classes, all students are challenged with advanced-level material.

Rachel Nguyen, News Editor

Curriculum coordinators have turned to making a few specific classes in the science, world language and English departments dual-leveled.

These classes are either split into standard and honors, honors and advanced or honors and Advanced Placement (AP). Many students and teachers alike agree that dual-leveled classes have more advantages than disadvantages.

World language teacher Andrew Kimball who teaches two dual-leveled French classes, explained why the world language department specifically is turning to dual-leveled classes.

“It comes down to scheduling, what works for the department,” Kimball said. “We look at overall enrollment, and if a course only has five people, the choices are to cancel it all together or combine it because financially it doesn’t work to run a course for five people.”

About five years ago, the English department introduced Real World Literature and Future World Literature as dual-leveled classes into the 10th grade English curriculum.

English Curriculum Coordinator Mary Burchenal said the department created dual-leveled classes for students to have more choices.

“We wanted it so that no matter who you are as a student, you have the opportunity to choose what class you want to take,” Burchenal said.

According to Burchenal, the department wanted to see the kind of class dynamic and types of students it would attract.

Junior Maiya Whalen took Future World Literature her sophomore year and is currently taking French IV, both dual-leveled.

According to Whalen, the classes are not structured differently – the assignments are similar, and the grading depends on the level and the teacher.

Junior Myles Avalon also said the same material was taught in his sophomore Future World Literature class to both levels of students.

“We all had the same amount of reading to do per night,” Avalon said. “But when it came to tests and quizzes, the people who were taking it for standard would do a few less questions than the people in honors.”

In the last decade, the science department has taken strides to reduce the number of levels and created dual-leveled classes.

Science Curriculum Coordinator Ed Wiser said the dual-leveled classes were created as a way to help students succeed.

As a result, there has been an increase in opportunities for students, especially young girls wanting to pursue interests in the science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) fields.

Kimball structures his dual-leveled classes around the advanced or AP students.

“The level of instruction, tests, quizzes and the assignments are geared towards the upper level,” Kimball said. “And then at the end of the quarter, the students in honors get 10 bonus points so that their report card reflects that. The honors students are being challenged, but they’re compensated for that extra work.”

Senior Pattareeya Kittikapajon found that one disadvantage of taking the AP French V class for honors credit is the fast pace of the class.

“I’m behind in that class,” Kittikapajon said. “I have a hard time grasping what some people are saying. I have to ask for people to repeat things.”

Despite this, Kittikapajon said being in a dual-leveled class has pushed her academically.

“Coming from honors, we barely spoke in French, and coming into an AP class, everyone speaks so well,” Kittikapajon said. “It pushes me to be in that environment and speak more French and develop my French skills.”

Avalon believes that the benefits of dual-leveled classes outweigh the disadvantages.

“It’s an advantage for the kids that are in honors taking an advanced class. They’re learning more, but at the same time they’re getting their grade boosted,” Avalon said. “There are way more advantages than disadvantages.”