Friday, June 06, 2008


I know that there are a lot of students who are perhaps confused or upset as to why they are not on the AP English enrollment list when they signed up for the class during registration. Even though most of them won't be checking this blog, I'm assuming many will have friends who are enrolled, so if you would please share this information, I would appreciate it.

First of all, let me assure you, it was not about grades, intelligence, abilities, or how much your teachers liked you. A number of very good students who made honor roll and get As in English were culled from the list because of two simple factors: they don't read and they don't talk.

Some of you may have noticed that there are quite a few students on the list who aren't conventionally high-achieving. They are there because they read, and they are active participants in discussions.

Reading is really the key to success in AP English...students who do the reading have intelligent contributions to make during the discussions and are therefore fully engaged. They're able to keep up with the themes and ideas under discussion, other people's comments make sense to them, and they will have better recall of the information, which will help them perform better on the exam.

Students who don't read (or don't keep up with the reading, playing catch-up all year), sit quietly during discussions, trying to piece together what's going on while others who have done the reading talk animatedly about the text. Even those who go and read the text after the lecture don't have as firm a grasp of the material, so when test time rolls around their mastery of the content will be fuzzier. They just don't get as much out of the class.

Now, having said all that, I know that the culling process is not perfect, we may well have removed students who are active readers and perhaps just didn't demonstrate their engagement as clearly as they could have. If you feel that is your situation, you still have one option: do the summer reading, then come see me in September. We can have a nice thoughtful discussion of the summer texts, and assuming you demonstrate that you are a good candidate for AP work, I will add you to the class, space allowing.

Also, if you are on the list and are now having second thoughts (or start to have them over the summer as you plow through the texts), let me or your counselor know as soon as possible so that we can figure out the number of open spaces available to interested students. Remember, moving to English 12A can be problematic in September. This year, it took almost a month before a new section was opened to accommodate all the level changes. You don't want to be in English limbo for the first month of school, it's not a good way to start your senior year.

Finally, I do want to thank everyone for their interest in AP, misguided or not. It has the potential to be an amazing learning experience for the truly engaged and invested student. I hope that's you.