What you need to know about the West Orange honors program for middle schoolers

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The Middle School Honors Program, begun in September 2015, has undergone some changes for the 2016-17 school year thanks to a committed group of educators, administrators and parents, according to a district release. If your child is in fifth, sixth or seventh grades and a good candidate for an honors program, read on for more information, links and important dates.

  • The deadline for parents and guardians to send in permission slips for students to take the honors placement testing is Monday, Feb. 29. There will be no exceptions.
  • All students can take the honors placement tests but it is recommended students have a grade average of B or higher.
  • Placement testing begins March 1 with English language arts, March 3 with social studies, March 7 with math and March 10 with science.
  • Testing will include multiple choice questions and an essay.
  • To qualify for an honors class, students must get 65 points in their placement test. Appeals are allowed if students get 55 to 64 points. The scoring rubric also includes a teacher rating scale, and 15 percent of the total rubric score for sixth- and seventh-graders will include their grades in that class.

Lastly is the timeline: The placement tests will be assessed from March 14 to 30. Parents will be notified of the results by mail, sometime between April 4 and 17. The appeals process will be open from April 18 to May 6. Results will be finalized May 20.

What’s different for the coming year? Students in grades six and seven testing for any of the honors courses will have 15 percent of their grade from the first two marking periods in that subject considered as part of their total rubric score.

If a student is already in an honors class and has a grade of 90 percent or higher, that student will not have to take the placement test, but will have to do the essay.

If a student struggles in an honors course, they can move into a non-honors course; conversely, if a student in a non-honors course does exceptionally well, they can move into an honors course.

“All students can take the test, but honors courses are not for every child,” Superintendent Jeff Rutzky said at the Edison Middle School Honors Program presentation on Feb. 24. “We want to individualize learning for every child, every day. If a child is overwhelmed they will not enjoy it.

“To be successful in honors, a child has to be able to work independently — you can’t help them. The workload will be heavier and classes will move faster,” he continued. “Children develop at different rates. They may not be ready this year, but a year can make a big difference.”

If you were unable to attend one of the Middle School Honors presentation, get all the information at http://www.woboe.org//site/Default.aspx?PageID=3654.

Update: This article was updated to correct an error in the press release sent to EssexNewsDaily. The original release said that students who score between 45 and 54 on a placement test may appeal; in fact, students must score between a 55 and 64.