Why Honors English Isn’t Offered at DHS

Image courtesy of Flickr

Image courtesy of Flickr

Jada Harris, Staff Writer

The dozens of courses at Deerfield High School seem to offer a class for everyone, whether they are focused on the arts or are more academically driven. DHS seeks to provide opportunities for all students to take courses that spark their attention. 

Because of its variety of course offerings, it seems out of character for DHS to not offer an honors English class at the freshman or sophomore level. During those years, while an honors level is offered for several other subject areas, in English, students are limited to choose either a survey, regular, or combined social studies and English class. While honors freshman English is a course many other schools, including Highland Park High School, have been offering for years, students at DHS are not offered the chance for a faster-paced English course until junior year if they choose to take Advanced Placement. 

DHS strives to set up college-bound kids for academic success. However, denying students the chance to challenge themselves in the humanities field can be seen as limiting them, not just in terms of honors credits they can receive, but also in their opportunity to expand their literary knowledge at a more intense level. So, why is it not offered? 

Mr. Wise, the new head of the English department, said the reason for this is because in the past, a lot of times “students would be coming from sender schools, and the recommendations from their previous school didn’t always align with their level of success once they were in an honors class at Deerfield.” The consensus at DHS currently is that recommendations for an honors English class have not been accurate in the past, so the most effective solution is to put all students in regular or survey until there has been a sufficient amount of time for teachers to decide whether or not they are qualified for AP English. 

Mr. Wise believes that offering honors English classes to freshmen and sophomores “would be giving students who are looking for an extra challenge a great setting.” However, he also noted that, “All students benefit by having our strongest students in the classroom with them. It would be a loss to lose the strongest students in a classroom setting. It changes the dynamics.” 

English teacher Ms. Craig-Naples stated, “Freshman English offers a rich experience for students with a variety of texts. Freshman English is rigorous enough to challenge students and prepare those wanting to take AP.” According to Ms. Craig-Naples, “Standard English classes are set up in such a way where students are pushed beyond their comfort zone. This allows stronger English students the chance to feel challenged without being put into a whole new environment.” 

Yet, as Mr. Wise points out, nothing is set in stone. Mr. Wise explained the English department is “constantly re-evaluating” the program of studies and reviewing it for any changes that should be made in order to meet the needs of students.

Hopefully, continued consideration will be given to adding honors English for freshmen and sophomores at DHS. This would enable all students, not just those in math and science classes, to earn honors credit their freshman year, and it would also allow students the opportunity to be in a class level that suits them better.