As part of communicating OPRF High School’s plan to eliminate the freshman honors track for English, science, history, and world language courses, Associate Superintendent Greg Johnson emailed OPRF families saying, “The research is clear that increasing access to more rigorous curriculum increases achievement.” 

This echoes FAQ’s OPRF High School’s website, which says, “Won’t this hurt students who would normally be placed in honors classes? Absolutely not.” The website also includes a list of several research studies to support its findings. However, my independent review of the research paints a different picture. There are multiple studies finding that honors tracks are beneficial to the students in those tracks. This research points to the difficulty teachers have when classes have students with a wide variety of levels of ability and motivation. 

The common-sense conclusion could be correct, that eliminating honors courses may hurt students who would have been in those courses. Unfortunately, OPRF High School has only showcased the findings of a cherry-picked set of studies to support its plan, promoting the change as a clear benefit for all, rather than transparently explaining the pros and cons of the change. The school’s spin on the research is so deceitful it can be described as Trump-ian. 

Eric Friedman

Oak Park

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