Silver Chips Online

English department struggles with overcrowding

12th grade Honors English students exceed maximum class capacity

By Allison Daitch, Online Managing Editor
September 21, 2010
The English department is facing scheduling problems resulting from overcrowding in 12th grade Honors English classes. Administrators believe that the overcrowded classes are a result of three main causes: many seniors dropped their A.P. English Literature class, many moved from on-level to Honors English and a large number of new seniors enrolled this school year.

2010-2011 school year began with unusually overcrowded 12th grade Honors English classes. Lorena Kowalewski
2010-2011 school year began with unusually overcrowded 12th grade Honors English classes.
Complications began in January and February of the 2009-2010 school year, when the English department decided to have four sections of A.P. Lit to accommodate for the 104 seniors that signed up for the class. Within the first week of school, however, only 79 students were still signed up for the A.P. Lit. Many students submitted a class change request over the summer and at the beginning of the school year, according to English resource teacher Vickie Adamson. "When an entire class of students disappears, it has a domino effect," she said. The unexpected drop in the numbers of the A.P. Lit classes drove up the numbers in the Honors English classes, which created overcrowded class sections.

The Montgomery county capacity for English classes is set at 29 students, but four 12th grade Honors English classes at Blair are overcrowded with 30 or 31 students. "There were no seats in the Honors English classes," Adamson said. "The county doesn't want to see over-capacity and our school doesn't want to disrespect that."

Resource counselor Marcia Johnson claimed that there was a large amount of new seniors who enrolled both over the summer and within the first week of school who increased the number of students in 12th grade English classes. "It became a problem because we had a lot of new students come in and the schedules made last year were already close to capacity," Johnson said. Ultimately, the department was able to reduce Honors English class sizes so that eight out of 12 Honors English classes were at or below capacity.

When the Honors English classes started to exceed capacity, the English Department tried to recruit students back into A.P. Lit. The department invited students to a pizza party luncheon during the first week of school at which the staff explained the benefits of taking A.P. Lit. The teachers convinced 13 students to switch into the class, but schedule conflicts arose for six students. Johnson said there are still attempts to get the numbers in all 12th grade Honors English classes back down. "[Capacity] has always sort of been an issue, but we are trying to get it back down," Johnson said.

Some teachers do not find the larger class sizes to be an issue. English teacher Jeremy Stelzner believes that the larger classes could be healthy for the students, because of the age of the students. "They will be going to big schools and it's all about preparing them for the next step," he said. "These are not freshmen. There is no misbehaving. These students are getting ready for college."

While the overcrowding problem is under control for this school year, Blair administration is already planning to minimize problems next year by accepting fewer schedule changes. "In the future we need to ask students to make good decisions the first time around," Johnson said.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/10283