New courses offered for next school year

Four new classes, including AP English Language, will be implemented at the start of the 2018-19 school year to provide students with more options for weighted honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

According to Principal Kim Diorio, three additional classes —  Human Anatomy and Physiology, AP Research, and Business Management and Leadership Honors — will also be added to the course catalog. Additionally, the administration is exploring ways to credit visual and performing arts classes with weighted grades.

While the English Department is still discussing the details of the AP English Language course, Assistant Principal Adam Paulson confirms the class will officially launch next school year.

“AP English Language came about for the equity and access, and trying to get more kids into AP English classes,” Diorio said. “One of our school goals is to get more of our underserved kids in our honors and AP courses. AP English Literature is really for a certain type of student, and I think AP English Language will have a broader appeal.”

While the existing AP English Literature and World Literature classes involve an exceptional amount of reading and analyzing, AP English Language will focus on the writing and rhetoric involved in nonfiction texts and graphic images. Students will mainly practice argumentative essays to develop their own writing style, according to the course description from the College Board.

The course will most likely be offered to juniors and seniors as a weighted class.

However, there is still debate over whether adding the course will discourage students from enrolling in unweighted English electives; solutions to this ongoing problem include crediting English electives as honors classes or possibly even converting American Literature Honors to an unweighted elective.

The thought behind these options is to incentivise students to take courses for the content rather than the effects the final grade may have on students’ GPA.

“I think [AP English Language] might be a helpful class if it’s focused on writing because that might help [with] our college essays,” said sophomore Alana Abeyta. “Also, since it helps your GPA, people might want to take it for that reason.”

“I think we definitely hear that there’s a desire for more APs, and yet at the same time, as teachers, we’re all struggling with [the fact that] if we add APs it will just increase the competitiveness.”

Kim Diorio

The introduction of a new AP Capstone Designation feature on students’ college applications allows for students to receive acknowledgement by indicating that they have taken AP Seminar, AP Research and four additional AP courses.

This opens up the possibility of sophomores registering for AP courses, such as AP Music Theory and AP Computer Science.

Moreover, AP Computer Science Principles may be offered as an option for freshmen or sophomores who have an early interest in computer science.

The decision to incorporate these new courses into Paly’s curriculum is controversial, however because freshmen and most sophomores are currently discouraged from enrolling in AP classes.

“I definitely would have taken more APs if I could have but I feel like if they start making them available to sophomores now then that may be an unfair advantage.”

Alana Abeyta

According to Diorio, next steps include communicating with Gunn High School in order to produce equitable courses and opportunities.

“One of the things we’re trying to do with Gunn is trying to make our programs a little more similar, so it’s not so different depending on which high school you go to,” Diorio said. “My vision would be that two or three years from now, we would actually have one course catalog for both high schools.”

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