Possible elimination of B-level English courses generates concern

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Ian Bernstein ’18

The Westport Public School’s administrative staff is considering terminating B-level English classes at Staples High School based on their purpose for student learning.

Students and teachers have expressed unfavorable opinions regarding this possible decision, which include concerns about academic accommodation: the educational goal to accommodate all students’ needs for academic success.

“If an A class is too hard for someone, then Staples should offer a course that is a better level for them,” Eric Greenberg ’18 said.

In a sit-down interview, Heather Colletti-Houde, an English teacher at Staples who has experience teaching B-level courses, gave her stance on the topic.

“It’s not something that I would be in favor of,” Ms. Colletti-Houde asserted. “I’ve seen the need for a class where I’ve seen kids who find difficulty with reading and writing gain confidence and skills in a supportive, small environment.”

To elaborate on their benefits, B-level classes offer a more concentrated curriculum with “more teacher assistance and a slower pace,” Amelia Fitch ’18, a student in the Effective Writing & Research Skills B class, said.

Although there is reason for opposition, the potential discontinuation of B-level classes could be advantageous to current B-level students.

“[W]hen you put kids who may be struggling in classes where there are role models, so to speak, they model their [skills] and reach towards [their level,]” Ms. Colletti-Houde said.

Fitch adds, “Students need to be challenged and A classes could do that for B-level students.”

However, if B-level students are forced to enroll in A-level classes, Ms. Colletti-Houde feels that the Board of Education should implement “differentiation” in A-level curriculums, where students receive different assignments according to their academic ability.

If not differentiation, Ms. Colletti-Houde said she “would be interested to see what kind of plans we have to ensure that everybody’s needs are met.”

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