English curriculum to undergo changes
By Eric Ormseth, Reporter
Over the past few years, the high school English curriculum for juniors and seniors has consisted of multiple electives. The current program allows students the freedom of deciding what kind of English course suits them best.
However, this curriculum is set to change in the coming school year. The program will switch from the current elective system to a more homogenized system, comprised of one English class for each grade, similar to the freshman and sophomore English curricula.
“We are having a reduction in our staffing next year, which prompted us to rethink the upper-grade English,” English teacher Steven Floyd said. “Because of having [less] staff, we thought that we couldn’t sustain [the core elective system], so we’ve decided to shift back to the way it was before we made that change.”
Before the core electives system was introduced, the English curriculum was very similar to the curriculum that is coming next year, with one English class for each grade along with Advanced Placement options.
“There have been a lot of teachers going and leaving,” English department head John Rees said. “We have fewer English teachers in the department than when we designed it.”
English teacher Steven Denlinger’s departure at the end of the year is a key factor. When he leaves, there will not be enough teachers to continue with the electives system. The administration believes reverting to a more traditional system is the best choice considering the circumstances.
“Students will have less freedom under this system, but it may be easier for colleges to see what the curriculum is,” Floyd said. “A college might not understand what “Truth Through Memoir” is, or understand that “Sci-Fi” is more rigorous than just reading and watching science fiction movies.”
According to the staff, these changes will not detract from the overall student experience. Rather, they will increase the quality of lesson plans and preparation of teachers.
“More structured lesson plans by the teachers will help student learning, rather than having a teacher too busy to plan well, or having a teacher plan for a Core Elective that they didn’t create, and didn’t want to teach in the first place,” English teacher Anders Blomgren said.
These changes will reduce variety in the English program, but will not decrease the overall rigor of the curriculum. At the senior level, there will be an AP version of the normal English class, as well as an embedded honors option integrated into the core class for both juniors and seniors.
“In junior and senior level English classes, we will be expanding the embedded honors program,” Floyd said. “Students can sign up for honors [American Literature] and honors senior English. If you do not take AP, you can still take an honors level class.”
The administration intends to offer more options for different levels of rigor, in order to make up for the loss of choice between English electives.
“Our hope is that a lot of the books that we have for the elective classes that are taught now will be incorporated into 11th and 12th-grade classes, so students will have a taste of all of those classes,” Floyd said.