To double AP English or not: Now’s the time for change

June 9, 2009 — by Staff Editorial

Students experimenting with taking multiple science courses and multiplying their math courses by two have long been prevalent at Saratoga High. Multiple English classes, however? Frailty, thy name is the SHS English Department’s concurrent AP enrollment policy.
For more than three years, administrative officials have restricted students to only enrolling in one Advanced Placement English class, either Advanced Placement Literature or Advanced Placement Language, their senior year. This lack of ability to take more than one English course creates a double standard for students’ academic achievement at Saratoga by steering the school away from producing graduates talented in the arts and overemphasizing math and science courses.
Students at Saratoga are allowed to take courses such as AP Chemistry, AP Calculus and AP Statistics in either their junior or senior year of high school, assuming they have fulfilled all the prerequisites. In stark contrast, higher-level English classes are only available for students beginning in their junior year. At other schools, including Los Gatos High School, this order of courses is common, and students are allowed to take Advanced Placement English classes beginning in their junior year of high school.
Los Gatos’ policy allows for students to take one AP English course their junior year and another senior year. Since Saratoga High does not allow this course progression, it should accommodate students who wish to take both senior year.
Without the ability to take both AP Lit and Lang, students are forced to choose between two vastly different curriculums. This is a choice that should not have to be made—it will only disadvantage students in the long run by preventing them from learning more than one side of the high school English curriculum. For example, students in AP Lit do not discuss philosophy, while students in AP Lang do not analyze poetry. While this lack of knowledge is not conspicuous during high school, it will be all too noticeable in college when other students are better prepared for English than Saratoga High graduates.
Administrative officials argue that the reason behind a lack of concurrent enrollment is strictly a numbers game. When students were previously allowed to enroll in both AP English courses, the number of students taking the classes was too high for teachers to manage. While this is a valid argument, students should still not have to be` deprived of the opportunity to take more than one English class. Excess funding commonly used to support electives could instead be given to the English department if needs for another staff member arose.
Not only would allowing students more freedom to take Advanced English classes be a decision that would improve the quality of student reading and writing, it would dispel the double standard that currently exists that allows students to double up on math and science classes, but not English classes.
In its endless quest to promote the math and sciences, the English Department has utterly failed to encourage students who seek emphasis in the humanities by preventing concurrent enrollment in AP English classes.

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