What’s in a name? The regular level classes Algebra II and Geometry with Proof have both been upgraded to honors status, while the courses previously known as Honors Algebra II and Honors Geometry with Proof are now called “Honors Advanced.” Every Upper School student who has taken regular Geometry with Proof or Algebra II at any time will thus have an honors boost retroactively added to their transcript. Blue & Gold writer Julian Lee discusses the pros and cons of the situation.
I can understand why so many students in the newly-minted Honors Advanced classes are furious at the recent change, which was badly timed and communicated. Yet, though the poor execution has left many feeling cheated, the underlying principle is sound: adding new Honors courses to the math department is crucial in rewarding the high academic standard established by Taipei American School students.
Honors Advanced Algebra II students argue that the new Honors Algebra II class should not receive the same half-point GPA boost as their course. Evelyn Lai (‘20), an Honors Advanced student, says, “Most people in my class think it’s unfair, because our class is a lot harder than the [new Honors] Algebra II class, but we’re still getting the same credit.” Aside from this, a college admissions officer may not be able to fully grasp the difference–a significant one–between the Honors and Honors Advanced course levels.
However, while these are valid causes of concern, disgruntled Honors Advanced students should remember that they have the opportunity to reach the prestigious AP Calculus BC within two years, while the overwhelming majority students in the Honors class will be placed in AP Calculus AB or lower. So yes, the distinction of a mere “Advanced” on a transcript could slip universities’ notice, but the distinction between two well-known levels of AP math certainly will not.
Even more importantly, the justification for the change revolves around one obvious fact: TAS classes are very, very demanding. Mr. Warren Emanuel, TAS AP/IB Coordinator, says, “[I’ve seen] from the admissions officer’s perspective how much work our students do, and how well we achieve at universities. If our students are doing honors-level work, then I’m fine with calling every single class honors.”
Students in the new Honors Algebra II and Honors Geometry classes have, in fact, been doing honors-level work relative to their peers in the United States. Jeremy Martin, former student of the TAS Class of 2018 and current senior at Meade High School in Maryland, says, “The normal level classes at TAS are probably more challenging than the honors level classes at my school.” TAS students in regular classes are consistently learning more and working harder than other schools’ honors students–it is only fair to give them credit for it.