Ninth grade English forum tonight at WMHS

Feb 6, 2019 by

Published February 6, 2019

By MARK SARDELLA

WAKEFIELD — A proposal to eliminate 9th grade honors English from the 2019-2020 Wakefield Memorial High School Program of Studies will be the subject of a public forum tonight in the WMHS Cafeteria. At the 6 p.m. forum, information will be presented by teachers from the English Department as well as by administrators. There will be time for questions and answers as well.

The proposal was discussed at length at last week’s School Committee meeting after a number of parents expressed concern over the change, which involves heterogeneously grouping all 9th grade students in English Language Arts class but giving honors weight to all students. According to administrators, students who would have taken Honors English won’t see much difference.

But parents have expressed concern about having just one level of 9th grade English. Some feel that struggling students would tend to hold back the high achievers or that the struggling students might not be comfortable with the higher expectations of an honors-level curriculum. But the administration has said that safeguards and supports will be put in place to help kids who might be struggling.

At last week’s School Committee meeting, Principal Amy McLeod and Director of Guidance AJ Beebe presented the 2019-2020 WMHS program of studies, with the 9th grade English course change taking up most of the discussion. Prior to that presentation, Suzy Veilleux of Aborn Avenue read from a letter signed by 50 parents raising concerns about eliminating 9th grade honors English in favor of “leveling” the course offerings for all 9th graders. Previously, both honors English and College Preparatory (CP) English have been offered in all four high school grades.

WMHS Principal Amy McLeod told the School Committee last week that there is really no clear distinction between honors level 9th grade English and CP English. The curriculum and the standards are the same for both she said. She added that the impetus for leveling the course came from teachers in the English Language Arts Department adding that more and more school districts are adopting similar approaches.

The move would place Wakefield in compliance with NEASC standards, which require that students be in one heterogeneously grouped core class. The New England Association of Secondary Schools is the organization that provides accreditation for high schools.

The administration has said that teachers will carefully monitor to make sure students aren’t falling through the cracks. Whether students select honors or CP English when they get to 10th grade, no students will be “dropping back” or “moving up” at that point, according to school administrators, because everyone will have taken the same 9th grade English class.

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