We are one year into what is an aggressive effort at Oak Park and River Forest High School to boost the academic opportunities for Black and Brown students through a program the school calls Honors for All, but which is less eloquently known as detracking.
The plan eliminated the College Prep tier in most classes for freshmen and, instead, elevated those students into honors classes. The goal was for more of those kids to sign up for honors and AP courses in their sophomore year and beyond.
By that measure, Honors for All is making some headway. In the comprehensive report received Sept. 7 by the school board, an additional 5% of incoming Black sophomores have opted into honors or AP courses this school year. That means 41% of Black students are in more rigorous classes than a year ago. A notable increase.
There are challenges, as school officials readily acknowledge. More support will be needed for those students stretching into honors. Tinkering around the edges of instruction and cutoff levels is underway.
Most important though, and what we heard from the board, is that OPRF will stick with this bold initiative. Progress will be slow. There will be bumps. But the effort is essential.