Changing for the betterPublished 11:30am Friday, March 29, 2013
By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist
Closing our meeting for students planning to take Advanced Placement courses in the fall, I opened the floor for questions.
“What if writing is not really your thing?” a sophomore asked.
I responded, “Did you ever have any Velcro-strap tennis shoes when you were a kid? I don’t see any Velcro today. You learned to tie your shoes. You’ll also learn to be a strong writer.”
I started teaching honors English 11 more than a decade ago. This year, I’m teaching the course for the last time. Next year, PHS improves our curriculum by replacing honors English 11 with advanced placement English language.
Advanced placement English literature will continue as our senior class. The first AP class PHS offered, AP English lit has helped many PHS grads earn college credit.
We have not offered AP English language before, because most colleges would only award credit for one AP English class. PHS students were better served by having strong honors English teachers, all certified in AP English literature, preparing students for their official senior year AP English with Ms. Essman. AP English literature remains the best preparation for students’ first year of college.
Focusing on creating strong writers has served PHS students well. So, if our methods are working, why change?
Last year, the University of South Alabama started accepting only AP English language test scores for credit. They hold that AP English language more accurately replaces the traditional freshman composition while AP English literature replaces sophomore English courses. As a result, some PHS grads were denied credit for their scores on the AP English literature exam.
When PHS students work hard, we want their hard work rewarded. Honors English 11 has always been a challenge because I push students to write at a collegiate level. In AP English language, students will have advantages including a college-level textbook, collegiate instructional materials and a year-end assessment powerful enough to earn them college credit.
Empowering Pelham students to be their very best requires challenging changes. Change that empowers our students is worth our best effort.