Last year, the Palo Alto High School English department made the decision to reduce the number of non-elective senior courses from three to two. By merging World Literature 12 and World Literature 12A, the department believed that this change would benefit students and teachers alike. This change left Advanced Placement English as the only advanced English class available to seniors.
The Campanile believes that this merger, although sensible in concept, has proved impractical and even detrimental to seniors. Students in World Literature 12 this year report being unchallenged and disappointed by the lack of college-preparatory coursework. Especially those who took American Literature 11H, the higher of the two junior English lanes, but chose to not take AP English senior year are being dealt a great disservice by this merger.
World Literature 12 classes have written one or two essays at most this semester and find literary analysis essays being replaced with other forms of assessments, such as monologues. In their final year before college, seniors ought to be challenged by their English classes to better prepare them for the challenges that postsecondary writing will pose.
American Literature 11H students should not be automatically expected to take AP English senior year, as many plan on taking many AP classes outside of the English department. Those that do not take AP English should not be entering a class where the curriculum is arguably less challenging than it was in junior year.
The Campanile acknowledges the English department’s rationale for making such a decision, seeing as there was a severe socioeconomic divide separating the two English lanes for seniors. However, rather than combining both classes into a single lane, it would be more beneficial for all students involved to keep two lanes of non-AP English open for seniors, and instead work to regulate the curriculum of the separate English courses. Both lanes of English, regardless of the level, should focus on college preparatory skills in order to provide seniors with the tools they will need when entering college.
Furthermore, due to the inherent subjectivity of any English class, there are some discrepancies between different classes and their level of difficulty. Not all World Literature 12 teachers follow the exact same syllabus, therefore some teachers may imbed more challenging projects or coursework into the semester.
Students at Paly should have the right to be challenged in their coursework even if they choose not to take Advanced Placement classes.