Honors Level Course Implementation & Review

Definition of Honors Level Courses

Honors courses must be developed and implemented to:

  • Be more challenging than standard level courses in order to foster growth for advanced learners. Courses that are designed as inherently advanced are designed at the honors level and do not have standard level courses. Inherently honors courses are those with standards written in a progressive nature or courses that require pre-requisite skills.
  • Be distinguished by a difference in the depth and scope of work required.

Students, families, and all school personnel are informed and understand that honors level courses are designed to be more challenging for the advanced learner. Honors level courses are developed as an integral component of a differentiated program of study that provides an array of opportunities for all students based on their aptitudes, achievement, and interests. A well-developed academic program will have standard, honors, and other advanced programs.

Teacher’s Role (includes but not limited to)

Teachers of honors level courses will:

  • Possess the skills, knowledge, and dispositions to facilitate an honors level course with advanced curriculum content.
  • Have the capacity to develop and implement a differentiated curriculum based on and above the standard curriculum to support the growth of advanced learners.
  • Use a variety of instructional strategies to engage advanced learners.
  • Be aware of current curriculum innovations and research in the subject area in order to develop and implement an honors level course.

Student’s Role (includes but not limited to)

Students enrolled in honor level courses will:

  • Possess the interest, ability, and motivation to meet the challenges of an honors level course.
  • Be willing to take greater responsibility for their learning.
  • Aspire to an advanced level of learning through high quality work.
  • Be aware of and complete any prerequisite course(s) leading to the honors level course.

Parent’s Role (includes but not limited to)

Parents/Guardians of the advanced learner will:

  • Be aware of the requirements and expectations of an honors level course.
  • Support their student to perform at an advanced level of learning through high quality work.


School/Administrator’s Role (includes but not limited to)

To support honors level instruction, principals will:

  • Assign honors level courses to teachers who possess the skills, knowledge and dispositions to facilitate an honors level course with advanced curriculum content.
  • Ensure teachers are using the Honors Level Course Rubric Framework and the Honors Level Course Implementation Guide to define honors level instruction.


Facility Requirements

Facilities for honors level courses will:

  • Support the implementation of curriculum standards.
  • Provide any special equipment technology, or materials that are necessary to facilitate the honors level course.


Related SBE Policies

  • GCS-U-000: Guidelines for Local Academically or Intellectually Gifted Plans
  • GCS-M-001: Course for Credit, regarding Credit by Demonstrated Mastery (CDM)
  • GCS-L-004: Miscellaneous Graduation Policies, Policy Outlining Standards to be incorporated into the electronically generated high school transcript
  • GCS-M-004: Course for Credit
  • GCS-L-006: Miscellaneous Graduation Policies, Policy for Adequately Informing Ninth Grade Students about Acceleration Preparation


See http://sbepolicy.dpi.state.nc.us/ for specific language


See links below for further information:

Honors Level Course Portfolio Review Process
North Carolina Honors Level Course Rubric
North Carolina Honors Level Course Portfolio Review Checklist

Content Area Instruction Guides


The material in this section should not be viewed as a resource that includes all the ingredients necessary to teach a successful honors level course. Content area teachers will not find completely prepared ready-to-teach course materials in this publication. Rather, the materials in this document should be used by teacher/course developers as a foundation to customize honors level courses incorporating the unique needs and interests of their students. These teacher/course developers will also embed in their locally-developed honors courses a variety of background preparations and expertise from personal experiences, as well as the resources available in their districts to support honors level courses.


Therefore, the material included in each content area’s section should be used as a starting point or springboard for individual teacher or district level honors level course development and implementation. The state-adopted standards provide the framework and allow for local development within this framework.

See links below for further information:

Arts Education
Career & Technical Education
Healthful Living-Health & Physical Education
English Language Arts Education
Mathematics Education
Science Education
Social Studies Education
World Languages Education

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