English undergoes a curriculum upgrade for juniors

IB English will be a requirement for all


Liz Blodgett

Ken Chung teaches his 7th period English class. He had mixed feeling about whether having all students take IB Junior English was the right step.

By Allegra Wesson, Co-Editor-in-Chief

     The next school year will bring some changes to the English curriculum, where all juniors will be required to take SL IB English or HL IB English. In previous years, there were non-IB English options offered for juniors. Writing 121, HL and SL IB English, along with a regular English class will be offered to upcoming seniors.

     There have been some mixed thoughts around the school on the potential effects of the change. IB HL junior English teacher Lori Towzen thinks that this will be a positive change, as she likes the IB program.

     “I think [the IB program] asks students to think critically,” Townzen said. “I think every student can think critically and should be encourage to think critically.”

     She also sees it as possibility of establishing clear standards for the junior English classes since the IB rubric tends to have very specific guidelines.

     “I think it will help us align a consistent standard across all junior English classes, and the demands that we ask students, and that I think it focuses more on skills than it does on material, which is a good thing,” Townzen said.

     As for the potential risk of some students falling behind due to the increased difficulty with an IB class, Townzen believes that teachers will be able to suitably help the students, regardless of what class.

     “As teachers we know that we need to create supports for every kid whether it’s a kid that needs to be pushed because they’re already meeting our expectations or a kid that needs to be supported because they come in at a deficit level of skills,” Townzen said. “I think that happens in all classes, IB and regular classes already, so we’ll just continue to do our best for every student.”

     Writing 121 and American Lit teacher Ken Chung has some mixed thoughts on the changes to the English curriculum. Conceptually he feels like that it could be a positive change, but is uncertain to how it will actually play out for all the students.

     “There are students who have the potential to do well in IB, but nobody has ever told them they could,” Chung said.

     He’s seen a trend in the school that students don’t take alternate English class or English electives if they don’t offer college credit. He feels that students have been more focused on the college credit instead of whether they find literature in the course interesting or not. But then he’s worried about those  that have plans other than going to college and are then forced into the IB English class.

     “So you have these structures where most kids will be pushed towards IB because it offers potential college credit,” Chung said. “But what about the students that aren’t necessarily looking to go to college, and want to join the military or join the workforce instead? They feel like, ‘why am I being pushed into a course that’s not going to be as interesting and and if it becomes more challenging than I want it to be, then how will I find success?’”

     There’s also some uncertainty amongst students about the change. Sophomore Georgia Black is planning on taking IB HL junior English, but recognizes that some might not be so prepared.

     “I feel like there should still be elective classes for English because I know that last year there was creative writing and that got taken away, and I know that not all kids just want to read and write essays about books. They also want to write their own stories,” Black said.

     She also said that she has heard some peers feeling nervous that they had to take an IB English class next year.

     But overall, it’ll be hard to see how the students will be affected until the change is actually enacted.

     “It would be good to see the kind of data that comes out,” Chung said, “and what grades students are earning in these IB classes. So I think it’s going to take a couple cycles to really pin this down and figure whether it’s going to be a good fit for us.”