English & ELA Department

English & ELA Program

Welcome to the English Language Arts Department. We hope that this site will help you better understand our programs and course selections. For more information contact your child’s school or Counseling Center.

New York State Educational Learning Standards for English Language Arts

The New York State Education Department has established learning standards for English Language Arts denoting the skills and abilities each student should attain at various levels of his or her education – elementary, middle and high school levels.

Elementary School Curriculum

The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake elementary curriculum focuses on the English Language Arts skills of reading, writing, listening, speaking and spelling. Starting right in kindergarten, pupils also study math, science, social studies and health, lessons that are frequently designed to reinforce particular reading and writing skills.

Middle School Curriculum

The O’Rourke Middle School English Language Arts (ELA) program is a vital part of the district K-12 integrated comprehensive language arts curriculum.

It is designed so that students will develop a solid foundation in the BHBL Standards of Excellence in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The curriculum builds upon the previous year’s language arts skills in a coordinated and developmental framework. Reading, writing, listening, and speaking are taught in contexts that are meaningful to the students and enable students to become effective communicators. The program at each grade level comprises of a broad literary experience, coupled with varied opportunities for written expression. From argument writing to historical fiction and creative writing to documented research papers, ELA students at the middle school are afforded a thorough language arts program that unduly prepares them for the rigors of advanced work at the high school level. Reading, writing, listening, and speaking instruction at each grade level mirrors the New York State Next Generation ELA Standards.

High School Curriculum

  • High school students must complete 4 units or 8 semesters of English to complete the New York State’s requirements for earning a Regents diploma, Advanced Regents diploma, or Advanced Regents diploma with BH-BL Merit Seal. Requirements are usually met as follows:
    • English 9 (two semesters),
    • English 10 (two semesters), and
    • American Literature, grade 11 (one semester)
    • Electives, grades 11 and 12 (three semesters) OR
    • Core English 9 (two semesters),
    • Core English 10 (two semesters),
    • Core American Literature (two semesters), and
    • Electives, grades 11 and 12 (three semesters).
  • Students who fail required English courses may earn the credit by attending remedial classes in summer school or by repeating the failed course. Students who fail elective courses may repeat the course with a different teacher or may elect other courses so long as a total of eight semesters is completed satisfactorily.
  • Students are expected to schedule either one full-year English course or two English courses per year, one each semester, for all four years.
  • Students with special interests or abilities may schedule more than one English course per semester if there is room in the appropriate courses.
  • Only students who are new entrants to the school will be permitted to enter an English class more than two weeks after the beginning of a semester.
  • Elective courses are intended for juniors & seniors only, with the exception of Readers’ Workshop and Journalism. Sophomores desiring to take other courses must receive special permission based on unusual circumstances or exceptional ability.
  • In order to graduate from high school, students must pass the English Comprehensive Regents Examination that is given in 11th grade.
  • Since staff, budget, and class sections for the year are based on spring enrollment, students will not be permitted to change their course selection for the second semester unless a failure or other unusual circumstance occurs. Registration due to a failure will be accommodated only as space permits.
  • Literature selection is based upon the developmental appropriateness of material with a connection to the curricula. Literature may contain sophisticated themes linked to increasing maturity and grade levels.