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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An Alternative to High School Tracking with an Opportunity for Student Personal Growth: The Independent English Honors Project at Cooper High School
by Pernick, Ira S., Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2017, 219; 10600979
Abstract (Summary)

Rather than offering honors courses in English, Cooper High School (CHS) provides students in grades 9 and 10 with an opportunity to pursue an Independent English Honors Project (EHP) as a means of earning Honors credit on their high school transcript. While most schools utilize a more traditional Honors class system that often identifies students as early as 3rd grade, the lack of Honors courses in English leads directly to English classes that are heterogeneously grouped. Cooper High School’s atypical approach to Honors English instruction, controversial among some CHS parents, raise important questions about the potential value of independent student work and the benefits, if any, of heterogeneous instruction. This model of Honors instruction, unlike other subject areas within CHS, is also a cause of great consternation for many within the community and district.

This qualitative study, based on interviews and focus groups with students and teachers, seeks to better understand the perceptions of the EHP and its place at CHS. The study also addresses how students and teachers experience/perceive the EHP, those who choose to undertake it (or do not), and the heterogeneously grouped English classes that come with it. This study examined both those presently engaged in the EHP, and reflections of older students on their past experiences with it. Additionally, this study reveals student and teacher perceptions of smartness, the often challenging influence of parents and the value of being an Honors student at CHS. Although understandably complex, the core findings of this study are that students benefit academically and socially from their participation in the English Honors Project and that, despite the EHP’s limitations, it lays foundation for addressing issues associated with tracking, an important issue for the CHS community and district.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Posecznick, Alex
Commitee: Pupik-Dean, Chris, Waff, Diane
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Language arts, Educational leadership, Secondary education, Education philosophy
Keywords: English instruction, Heterogeneous classes, Honors Projects, Tracking
Publication Number: 10600979
ISBN: 978-0-355-21905-0
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