Bye Bye Advanced English 11 (Among Other Courses)


Gabriella Fuller

Advanced English 11 students studying ‘The Crucible’ in Ms.Nasatka’s class as a part of their studies of allegories.

Gabriella Fuller, Staff Writer

English program options for State High students for the 2023-2024 school year

As underclassmen are quickly approaching the time to pick their courses for the coming school year, there have been many course option changes made between past years and this year.

One of the more noticeable changes is available English courses. Four credits of English are required in order to graduate. 

This is the first year that students will not be able to take Advanced English 11 – traditionally a class for 11th graders who are too advanced in their level of English to take CP English 11 or lower, but do not want to take on AP Language and Composition (AP Lang) nor the two years of IB Language and Literature (IB Lang and Lit).

On top of this, seniors who were looking to take basic English 12 or CP English 12 will no longer be able to fulfill that idea. This means seniors will either have to take two half-credit courses, an AP English course, or continue their IB Lang course.

There are many mixed opinions about these changes as many students question the root cause for the changes. The people questioning the changes the most are sophomores at State High. Many are upset, annoyed, or frustrated about hearing the news that Advanced (Adv.) English 11 will be discontinued for the 2023-2024 school year.

One of these frustrated sophomores is Amelia Mortensen, who is currently enrolled in Adv. English 10. Before she heard the news, Mortensen was planning on taking Adv. English 11. 

After some tough considerations, she eventually decided to sign up for AP Lang for the weighted credit, but states that she’s worried about the difficulty of the course. Mortensen said the two main components for her when selecting her English course was the fact that, firstly, she wanted a weighted course for her GPA, and second, she wanted something a bit more rigorous than CP for colleges to look at.

These seem to be the deciding factors for a lot of students. Mortensen expressed that administration should reconsider the removal of Adv. English 11 as a course option. “A lot of people now are going to struggle to find a course that’s truly a good fit for them because it’s either IB, which is similar to an AP level [course], and as far as I’ve heard homework in those classes, which is like an hour and half to 2 hours each class. But then CP I feel like tends to, at least in English for a lot of people, is too little of a challenge,” Mortensen stated. 

However, making course changes for the 2024-2025 school year is not a simple process.  In fact, there will not be any more major course changes for about another six years.

The English Department coordinator for grades 6-12, Mary Lou Manhart, who has been teaching for 20 years and been a coordinator for four, has been through the curriculum revision process before. 

Manhart described the process of revision cycles a multiple-year long process of revising a curriculum for a department, where every course in that study is investigated and changed. The last English revision cycle was about 6 years ago, so next year will be the first year of implementation of the new curriculum that’s been in the works for about three years. Creating a new curriculum, Manhart claims, takes the consideration of a lot of people: teachers, principals, coordinators, outside teams, and student input. 

Without all of this input from many different stakeholders, the birth of the new highly-anticipated senior-level course, Crime and True Crime Lit, would not have been possible. This course was available to be added because of the freed-up space given from the collapse of CP English 12. A class which many teachers agreed was not an interest-based course that seniors could have been benefiting from like they could with semester-long classes. 

Beyond curriculum revision, there were other reasons behind the removal of Adv. English 11. 

“We ended up with an inequitable amount of weighted courses. We were like, privileging the advanced level… So we’re not really losing a whole lot of content, definitely not losing skills, it’s just that with the addition of IB, we ended up having 3 weighted options, whereas there’s nowhere else in our program where we have that many,” Manhart commented. 

Freshman and sophomore students only have the opportunity to pick either Adv. English or CP English, so to go into 11th grade with three choices of advanced courses and one choice of CP level English was thought of as inequitable to the rest of the program.

It was agreed upon by many in the English department that removing Adv. English 11 meant there would not be a loss of content or student skills. This decision, however, was not a unanimous vote. 

Mary Nasatka is a teacher at State High that currently teaches three different courses – including Adv. English 11 – and felt a little saddened by the discontinuation of Adv. English 11.

“I think the real world connections of Advanced 11, from rhetoric to social commentary [will be missed]. Not that they [AP Lang and IB Lang] don’t have similar units, it’s just not as tied to current events and to real life. It’s [Adv. English 11] less about, you know, how important the text is and more about how important the ideas are. So I’m going to really significantly miss that. The Crucible is such an important play, so relevant, and now won’t be taught at all,” Nasatka said. 

Although Nasatka feels afflicted over the loss of Adv. English 11 and the important concepts in the curriculum, she still feels optimistic about the future – especially about the upcoming True Crime Lit. class.

Nasatka was one of the teachers that came up with the class and is reviewing books and other materials with fellow teachers for next year. She says she’s hopeful that she’ll get assigned at least one section of the course, especially with the amount of student interest. 

Some students are nervous about not being able to take the course due to the lack of space, but rest assured that students who are interested in the course are likely to be able to take it.

“So many students are interested in that, and they’re talking about it, and even underclassmen are super excited to get into that course. People are nervous that there’s not going to be enough spots. And that’s not how it works! You make requests and then we make sections so you all can have what you want. So we’re excited about that! We think it’ll benefit student learning,” Manhart reassured. 

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about these English course changes for the next school year, you can contact your guidance counselor, your current English teacher, or get more information be contacting coordinator Mary Lou Manhart, at [email protected].