School Communications

Gifted vs. Honors Program: What Is the Difference?

October 19, 2021

Beacon Academy teaching their students in Crystal, MN

Beacon Academy is proud to offer the children of Crystal, MN, the best charter school education. Our charter school curriculum includes providing middle school honors programs for students who excel in academics. However, programs similar to ours are called gifted or honors programs, and they’re offered at different levels of schooling.

But, these two programs aren’t the same. So, when you compare gifted vs. honors, what are the differences? Let’s explore what each program offers.

What Is a Gifted Program?

The first difference we see when comparing gifted vs. honors programs is student age. Gifted programs are usually designed for elementary school children. While they may include elements of English, math, and other subjects, the focus is more on developing critical-thinking skills and innate talents. The goal is less to challenge students academically than it is to help them explore their strengths.

Gifted Criteria

Some children excel in a particular area or show an innate understanding of certain subjects. This quality is called “giftedness” and comes in many forms:

  • Intellectual ability
  • Creative ability
  • Emotional and interpersonal ability

To identify whether students are gifted, they can take a test that measures their adaptability, critical thinking, and other skills. If they score high enough, they can enroll in a gifted program.

What Is an Honors Program?

Honors programs usually start in middle school and continue into high school. They’re a continuation of the gifted program, but the focus shifts from skill exploration to academic progress. Honors classes are separate from regular classes and replace several subjects:

  • Science
  • Math
  • English

We should note that honors classes are different from AP or Advanced Placement classes. Honors classes are only available to students within the gifted program, while AP classes are available to everyone. Honors classes don’t necessarily offer college credit, while students in AP classes can take the relevant AP test and earn college credit depending on their scores.

Weighted Grades

Honors classes are weighted differently than regular courses, giving students an advantage in college admission. The highest achievable grade point in a regular class is 4.0, but honors classes may offer half to a full point higher, allowing students to earn a higher GPA.

Fast Pace

One of the biggest differences between gifted vs. honors is the focus on academics. Honors students are expected to handle a larger homework load, read longer and more complex texts, and complete subject units faster.

Honors Program at Beacon Academy

Students in Crystal, MN, have the opportunity to enroll in these programs, but the prerequisites vary between gifted vs. honors. Students need to be recommended by teachers, counselors, or other staff familiar with gifted criteria to enter the gifted program. To enter the honors program, students must either already be in the gifted program or show they can handle an accelerated education through excellent grades and high test scores.

Beacon Academy offers a well-rounded, quality education for students in Crystal, MN, and the surrounding area. If you’re interested in enrolling your child or want to learn more about our campus, give us a call at 763-546-9999 or contact us online.


Featured Image: Dmitry Pistrov/Shutterstock