Welcome to the English Department Page

What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                --Carl Sagan

That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                ―F. Scott Fitzgerald

New West English Department Philosophies and Expectations

“You should never read just for "enjoyment." Read to make yourself smarter! Less judgmental. More apt to understand your friends' insane behavior, or better yet, your own. Pick "hard books." Ones you have to concentrate on while reading. And for god's sake, don't let me ever hear you say, "I can't read fiction. I only have time for the truth." Fiction is the truth, fool! Ever hear of "literature"? That means fiction, too, stupid.” 

The primary goal of the English Department at New West Charter is to foster in students the ability to think for themselves.  To that end, we focus on increasing reading comprehension, engaging students in discussions about texts and the issues raised in those texts, on holding students accountable for completing the assigned readings and for being contributing members of a learning community, on skills of analysis and inference, on communicating ideas through writing and supporting those ideas with clear explanations and compelling evidence.

We expect every student to come to class having read the assigned text and having thought about what he or she has read.  The greatest challenge facing the English teacher today is ensuring the student actually completes the reading.  In an era of binge watching, online summaries of texts, tweets, and memes, students are reading less and trying to skate by more.  Many students have low reading stamina--they cannot read even a couple pages of text without feeling fatigued and without giving up.  As a result, students also struggle to have imaginations.  Without imagination there is no innovation.  We must encourage our young people to read so they can become engineers, architects, artists, parents, lawyers, doctors, teachers, leaders, etc. We must help them "see" what they read, learn from it, see themselves in it, learn about others, grow more aware and more self-aware, and we must help them develop the skills of analysis that will serve them well in all professions and all walks of life.

Please see the documents attached to the bottom of this page for the scope and sequence of the teaching of grammar skills, of literary devices and elements, and of writing skills.

Course Offerings:

English 6
English 7
English 8

Grade 9

College Preparatory English 9
Honors English 9

Grade 10

College Preparatory World Literature
Honors World Literature

Grade 11

English 11
College Preparatory American Literature
Honors Preparatory American Literature

Grade 12

English 12:  Literacy in the Modern Age                                                 

College Preparatory British Literature
Honors British Literature


Honors Placement Information:

Note:  Honors courses are not offered at the middle school level.

Grade 9
Eighth grade students interested in taking Honors English 9 must demonstrate a readiness to take on the rigors of honors material and expectations by satisfying at least two of the following:
  • a passing score the Honors 9  Placement Exam
  • a score of "Standard exceeded" on the Smarter Balanced assessment
  • a grade of A in both semesters of English in grade 8
Grades 10-12
Students entering these grades have two opportunities for placement in honors courses:
  1. If a student is currently in an honors English class and earns an A in each semester, he or she is automatically eligible to enroll in the next year's honors English course.
  2. Any student can take the honors placement exam for the next year's English honors course. Students who did not earn an A in both semesters of a previous honors English class must fulfill any two of the following:
    1. grade of A in both semesters of previous English class
    2. passing score on the honors placement exam
    3. meet scoring guidelines on a standardized assessment
      1. a score of "Standard exceeded" on the Smarter Balanced assessment from the previous year.
      2. a score of at least 500 on the Evidence-based Reading and Writing portion of the PSAT or SAT or the SAT Literature Subject Test
      3. a score of at least 24 on the combined ELA portion of the ACT 
Honors Placement Exam Scoring Criteria

See the document titled New West Charter School English Department Honors Placement Exam Scoring Guidelines available at the bottom of this page.

Honors Placement Exam Schedule

Academic Year 2016-17
Placement exams for this year were administered at the end of last year.

Incoming students (i.e. transfer students and those admitted through the lottery program) will have an opportunity to take honors placement exams for this year within the first one or two weeks of the year.

Academic Year 2017-18

Students currently in grades 9-11:  February 23, 2017, from 3-4 p.m. (See classroom assignments below)
    Honors World Literature Placement Exam--Room 221
    Honors American Literature Placement Exam--Room 224
    Honors British Literature Placement Exam--Room 225B 

Students currently in grade 8:  February 23, during period 4

Make up session for all grades:  February 24, 2017, from 3-4 p.m.

We do not allow retakes of placement exams.  Placement decisions are final.