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The English Department offers a wide range of courses providing an academic curriculum that is challenging and rich. These English courses provide opportunities for both creative and subjective responses to literature and also disciplined sophisticated analysis. The department’s emphasis on written work throughout the curriculum provides excellent preparation for all students.

The English program at Lowell High School is literature-based. The works read in the literature classes are works of substance appropriate for college bound students. Literary works are selected for their merit as well as for their appeal and applicability to the ethnically and culturally diverse, academically talented student population. All literature-based courses include instruction and extensive practice in the organization of coherent and informed expository essays. Much of the writing is about the literature and is in response to class discussions.

The content of ninth-grade and tenth-grade English classes focuses on each student’s emerging view of the world – from the adolescent, through the journey of maturation in mythology and into contemporary life. These courses bear the SFUSD titles Ninth-Grade English and Tenth-Grade English.

Because of the importance and complexity of the skills involved in clear and concise writing, all juniors in the regular English program must take our Expository Writing course.

Eleventh-grade and twelfth-grade English elective courses encourage students to explore specific dimensions of literature in greater depth. Students will take three semesters of electives. For specific information, see our “Course Descriptions.” Juniors and seniors may not get their first elective choices, due to book availability and scheduling issues.

Students may enroll in regular English or apply for Honors English. All Lowell English classes prepare students for university work. Entry into the honors classes is possible through the Honors Placement Test or English 71H.

As a rule the work of Honors English differs from that of regular English in quantity, pace and sophistication. Typically, honors students read and write more than students in regular courses. They participate in swiftly paced, complex discussions of literary texts and essay writing. Their interpretive writings are more complex than those addressed by students in regular courses. Honors courses require a greater amount of skill, work and time than regular courses. Once admitted to the honors program, students must maintain a “B” or better in order to stay in the program.

Placement in Honors English is decided by the English Department. To be eligible students must have a final semester grade of “A” in English and must pass the department’s placement test. The hour-long placement test is given after school about seven weeks after the beginning of each semester in the fall and the spring. Students are asked to read a brief passage of either prose or poetry and respond to a specific question in a well-developed short essay. The English Department offers a sophomore Honors English class, 71H Introduction to Expository Writing and Critical Reading, to provide instruction in expository writing and close, critical, analytical reading of both fiction and non-fiction works of American literature. Sophomores who have demonstrated ability in English but may not have passes the Honors Placement test will develop the skills and confidence they will need for the demanding juniors and senior Advanced Placement courses. Scores for Advanced Placement examinations at Lowell are among the highest nationally. Once admitted to the AP program, students must maintain a “B” or better.  Those who do not may be removed.


 For specific information about our AP offerings, see our “Course Descriptions.”