Research paper moved to sophomore year

Kacey Hertan, Staff Writer

As many students have recently learned from Schoology, the research paper has been moved to sophomore year.

That means this year’s sophomores and juniors will be writing a research paper.

The primary reason for this move is because in the future, students will takethe Smarter Balance Assessment in their junior year, instead of the CAPT test during their sophomore year, as a result of state law changes. Keeping in mind this change but also students’  stress in keeping up grades for college, SAT and ACT work, the English department believes that moving the research paper to sophomore year will help reduce the junior year workload, according to its chair, Julie Heller.

“The teachers realize the importance of reducing students stress,” Heller said.

The decision was reached two weeks ago, Heller said. The Collaborative Team discussed the switch and decided it was in the best interest of the students to move the paper. This team is led by math teacher Caroline James and made up of Principal John Dodig, all the department chairs, as well as some students, PTA members, and teachers.

“The decision seemed to make sense to everyone on the team, and that really covers all the disciplines across the school,” Heller said. The English department also held a vote on the subject, which came out almost unanimously in favor of having the research paper in sophomore year, Heller said.

The research paper assignment will be slightly different in sophomore year than the one students have experienced in junior year, Heller said. In both grades the paper will be worked on for 6 to 8 weeks, however, the junior paper will be roughly 8 to ten pages and the sophomore paper will be roughly 6 to 8. Of course, the assignment will vary depending on class, teacher, and level.

It is also understood that there is a gap between junior and sophomore research skills. “The English teachers will have to provide more support and break the steps down a little more for the sophomores,” Heller said.

This gap may close in the future because Connecticut has recently adopted the Common Core State Standards, which mandate development of research skills from kindergarten through 12th grade. “Tenth grade could look very much like what the eleventh grade expectations are in the future, but right now we’ll probably have to scaffold more,” Heller said.

This year’s sophomores will be taking the CAPT test and writing the research paper, as well as taking the Smarter Balance Assessment next year.

While many sophomores are not too happy about this, some English teachers may have it worse. Teachers who teach both sophomore and junior classes, like Delbert Shortliffe, will be grading upwards of fifty long papers this year. “Grading these papers is the hardest thing we do to ourselves,” Shortliffe said.

However, Shortliffe said he sees the bright side. “I really believe that every students in America should study American literature,” Shortliffe said. Without the research paper to process through, teachers and students will gain eight to ten weeks to teach American Literature during junior year.