The Eyes of MSMS

The Vision

Distinctions Give Rise to Discourse

A+representative+section+of+the+MSMS+Distinction+form.
A representative section of the MSMS Distinction form.

A representative section of the MSMS Distinction form.

Screenshot courtesy of Jax Dallas

Screenshot courtesy of Jax Dallas

A representative section of the MSMS Distinction form.

Jax Dallas, Entertainment Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






One of the many things that sets MSMS apart from traditional high schools is its optional system of distinctions which allows students to specialize in biology, chemistry, math or physics during their two years at the school, but some students feel like this system is not fair and needs revision.

The distinction system was first instituted two years ago, with the class of 2016 being the first to receive the status. Distinctions were implemented as an effort to set apart students who had taken the most rigorous courses as both a junior and a senior for a certain subject. “The whole purpose of the distinctions is so that colleges understand our curriculum a little better,” said Mrs. Kelly Brown, MSMS Director for Academic Affairs.

Currently, the qualifications for Distinctions are proposed collectively by the math and science departments. These distinctions were originally proposed by the physics department, where all students are required to take AP Physics I, but when distinctions were applied to biology and chemistry the topic became cloudier.

For chemistry and biology, incoming students are required to take a placement test to be put in the most advanced course as a junior. This placement test requires students to have a general knowledge of the course they are testing to make a high enough score to enter the class.

The problem with the system as it stands, critics say, is that it places students who did not have the opportunity to take chemistry or biology at their old schools at a disadvantage of receiving a distinction in the topics. Although it is technically not required for a student to have taken biology or chemistry before taking AP Biology or AP Chemistry respectively, it makes it exceedingly difficult for those who have not taken the classes to score high enough on the placement tests to get into the more advanced classes.

“Basically you can be virtually on par with other students, but not get the distinction because of one class” said Tristan Daily, an MSMS senior who has taken every chemistry class and elective aside from physical chemistry, but is not considered for the distinction due to his not taking AP Chemistry his junior year.

Regarding the qualifications of gaining the chemistry distinction, Dr. Lib Morgan stated, “It puts students who come to MSMS from weaker school districts, which are usually poorer school districts, at a disadvantage, so we are certainly discussing ways to equalize the opportunities of our students.”

One of these proposed options would be to introduce a senior class for students who took general chemistry as a junior that would fill them in on all the details that they missed from AP Chemistry, but the issue with this solution is that MSMS does not have enough teachers to introduce any new classes.

One thing that Brown would like to remind students is that a distinction does not make any student better than any other, but for many students this is not the truth of the distinction system. “It feels they are saying that this student with a distinction is better than everybody else on this topic, but that’s just not true,” Daily said.

Students admit that the issues present in the current distinction system are likely a product of the newness of the system in general, but they feel are still issues that need addressing for there to be equal opportunity for all students to achieve distinction in whatever topic they wish to pursue.

Print Friendly

4 Comments

4 Responses to “Distinctions Give Rise to Discourse”

  1. Mr Funderburk, Science Faculty on March 23rd, 2017 6:00 am

    “Distinctions” in Math, Physics, Biology or Chemistry do not exist at MSMS. In addressing those 10% to 15% of students who already have been taking most to all of the science courses offered for the 2nd year in the particular departments, Science sought to create the “Concentration” in physics, chemistry or biology to acknowledge formally the science content achievements of these students. The tone and flavor of the phrase “distinction” is not helpful in this matter, because it tends to emphasize a false subtext that 85% have not achieved something, which is in point of fact exactly false for all graduates of MSMS, and it fuels an unnecessary subtext of envy instead of promoting a healthy push and encouragement toward the highest content achievements possible for all MSMS students. One cannot overemphasize the need for the MSMS community and for MSMS curricula to “be here” for 100% of her students, and not only for the majority 85% whose real achievements can be slighted by calling a thing by a name which promotes envy. Please take this point to heart. Your article also seems to suggest strongly that there may be legitimately qualified students who are not qualifying for some AP course placement, which is a different kind of issue for faculty and admin and which I think stands on its own, ancillary to your present discussion.
    Mr. Funderburk, Physics

    [Reply]

    Jax Dallas Reply:

    Mr. Funderburk,

    I apologize for my incorrect use of the term “distinction” in place of “concentration”, that was an oversight on my part. The intent of this article was not to insight envy, but to rather show the concern of a group of students who feel as if they have earned concentrations but are not receiving them. Despite my use of incorrect terms I feel as if I proposed the topic in a respectful manner that included the perspectives of all parties involved. I apologize if you feel differently.

    [Reply]

    Mr Funderburk Reply:

    Nothing is amiss, either then or now. It’s all good.

    [Reply]

  2. Sydney A. Matrisciano on March 28th, 2017 10:48 pm

    I think we need humanities concentrations too. I’m in two foreign languages, and would love to take a third. We need a system set up to support and recognize students less interested in math, or science. While those subjects are in our name, Russian can be just as challenging and confusing as Physics.

    [Reply]

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Distinctions Give Rise to Discourse

    Student Life

    Students Skate to Wellness

  • Distinctions Give Rise to Discourse

    Student Life

    Students Prepare for Fall 2017 Mentorships

  • Distinctions Give Rise to Discourse

    Student Life

    Analyzing AP Test Stress

  • Distinctions Give Rise to Discourse

    Student Life

    MSMS students attend “She Should Run: Mississippi”

  • Distinctions Give Rise to Discourse

    News

    Students Compete in First “MSMS’ Got Talent”

  • Distinctions Give Rise to Discourse

    Student Life

    Forgotten Stories Bring Magic to Syrian Refugees with Movie Night

  • Distinctions Give Rise to Discourse

    Student Life

    Boys And Girls Club Honors Mentors

  • Distinctions Give Rise to Discourse

    Student Life

    Campus Crusades Sells Treats for T-Shirts

  • Distinctions Give Rise to Discourse

    Student Life

    Beginnings and Endings

  • Distinctions Give Rise to Discourse

    News

    Math Department ‘Reaches Out’ in Yazoo

The Eyes of MSMS
Distinctions Give Rise to Discourse