Freshman English delaning postponed

Drew Keller, Author

As in past years, incoming freshmen will now be able to take either English 9 or English 9A for the 2014-2015 school year following a decision to defer Board of Education consideration of a proposal placing all freshmen in 9A.

The English Department intended the proposed delaning plan, which it developed over the course of the past several years and presented to the Board on Jan. 28, to meet the needs of all students through in-class differentiation while preventing students from falling behind.

According to a letter released to the Paly community by principal Kim Diorio, the district decided to postpone delaning after concerns over the plan were raised at and after the school board presentation.

“[The decision was made] after receiving thoughtful feedback from all stakeholders, and in conjunction with our administrators and district staff,” the letter said.

In an emailed response to questions about the postponement, Diorio specifically mentioned parent questions about challenging all students as an important factor behind the decision.

“One of the concerns we heard over and over again was ‘how are we going to teach and challenge the high end students’ while at the same time meeting the needs of our struggling students?” Diorio said. “Despite our effort to address these questions […] we did not feel the school board and parent community were behind us. Because our parents are our greatest resource, we felt it was best to postpone the pilot [proposal] for now.”

According to Diorio, the plan to switch to offering only English 9A has not been abandoned.

“We’re not giving up on this goal,” Diorio said. “Rather, [we’re] taking some additional time to make sure our parent community and board members are educated and fully supportive of our efforts.

Shirley Tokheim, the Instructional Supervisor of the English Department, likewise hopes that the delaning plan will eventually be implemented.

“It was not our [the English Department’s] decision [to postpone delaning],” Tokheim said. “Our goal is to provide the opportunities and access for students coming to Paly to succeed – so 9A is the way to go.”

Following this change, current 8th graders now have the option of changing their online course selection for the next school year to English 9. 

“We are still encouraging our 8th grade students to choose English 9A next year, as we believe this is the course that best prepares students for honors level and AP coursework in the future,” Diorio said. “It is still our goal to open access to a rich and rigorous English experience for all students.”