Wilton High gets new AP Spanish course

Wilton High School will offer a new AP course, designed to “provide students with a learning experience equivalent to that of a third-year college course in Peninsular and Latin American literature,” next year.

The Board of Education unanimously approved the addition of AP Spanish Literature & Culture to the high school’s 2015-16 course offerings during its Nov. 13 meeting.

The course, which was initially proposed by world language teacher Scott Webster in September, would be a follow-up to Spanish IV/V Honors, which was added to the school’s program of studies this year.

AP Spanish Literature & Culture will use a thematic approach to introduce students to short stories, novels, poetry, and essays from Peninsular Spanish, Latin American and United States Hispanic literature, and focus on cultural connections and comparisons.

The course is also designed to help students hone their critical reading and analytical writing skills and develop proficiency in interpersonal, presentational and interpretive communication.

The literature class was proposed in response to the “growing need to accommodate students who complete our currently offered cycle of Spanish with AP Spanish Language & Culture as juniors,” according to Mr. Webster.

“We are proposing that AP  Spanish Literature & Culture be introduced into the curriculum at Wilton High School to support our students in continuing their language studies.”

Students

According to Mr. Webster, students are not required to study a foreign language at the high school, but roughly 91% of students enroll in at least one.

Mr. Webster said 18 of 37 juniors currently enrolled in AP Spanish Language & Culture have expressed interest, via a survey, in enrolling in AP Spanish Literature & Culture if it were to be offered next year.

“This cohort of students is very strong and they are excited to move forward with AP Literature, with your approval,” Mr. Webster told the education board.

“As seniors next year in 2015-16, it will be their ninth year of Spanish language study. The next logical course in the sequence of studies would be AP Spanish Literature & Culture.”

Mr. Webster said seven of the 57 students who took the AP Spanish Language exam in 2010 were sophomores and juniors and they all scored either a 4 or 5 on the exam.

The Class of 2014 was the first cohort of students who started Spanish in third grade, according to Mr. Webster, and the AP Spanish Language & Culture teacher of these students reported that they were “academically stronger with that extra year of language exposure.”

“AP Spanish Literature is a really rigorous and challenging course,” said Mr. Webster. “Only about 20% of districts nationwide that offer AP language offer AP Literature.”

Impact

Mr. Webster said the addition of AP Spanish Literature & Culture would engage students in “higher-order thinking skills through reading, creative writing and interpreting literary works,” which would connect with the Common Core standards.

“Proficiency in a globally relevant language like Spanish is increasingly important for our students so that they are ultimately afforded more employment opportunities,” Mr. Wilson said.

Wilton will become the second district in District Reference Group A to offer AP Spanish Literature & Culture; Staples High School in Westport is currently the only school that does.

The AP Spanish Literature & Culture course has approximately $1,289 in associated costs, including those for textbooks and ancillary materials, for which standard budget allocations for the school and program area may be used, the course proposal says.

“The costs are really nominal with textbooks we’re proposing,” said Principal Robert O’Donnell, adding that the course would be offered with no expected personnel increase.