Out with the old, in with the new Program of Studies

2016-2017 school year ushers in new choices


May Paddor, News Editor

New AP science requirements, a new Film 2 class and AP Music Composition class; there are always new Program of Studies additions that surprise during registration.

Dr. Paul Sally, Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, said changes are made to the Program of Studies each year. “In terms of course changes, prerequisite changes, level reclassifications and name changes, those might total 10-12 each year, the real significant ones 3-4,” Sally said.

These significant changes can include anything from adding complete courses to changing the levels at which they’re offered. “Sometimes we’ll change course levels to expand it. That’s happened in the science department where sometimes level 9 courses become a level 2 and 3 course, but it’s still the same course, just the level designation is different,” Sally said.

A significant change that’s been presented for next year includes the level requirement changes to take AP science classes. Students who have taken two years of level four classes are able to take an AP science class their junior year but students will still not be allowed to take any APs their sophomore year.

The science department chair, Michael Lee, said, “The main reason is we want kids to graduate with well-rounded experience and not be so specialized in AP sciences. It’s hard enough as it is right now for kids trying to be on that AP track.”

There have been requirement changes for students enrolled in level 2 and 3 sciences. The prerequisites for AP science classes is now three years of science. Lee said, “You could have kids who have three 2 level classes in the past and get into any AP they want without a parent request. That seems odd when kids get a parent request form to go from a 2 level class to a 3 level class.”

The science department feels that a level change of any kind should come with feedback from a student’s support system.

“I think kids will think twice about whether or not they want to get into the AP track. It’s not to prevent the student from taking it, but it’s more to have that conversation and really ask, ‘Are you sure you really want to do this, because I do not recommend it,’” Lee said.

This pre-requisite change makes for more flexibility, Lee said.

“It will offer some flexibility. If a student wants to take one AP during their four years, maybe they can take it junior year and take an elective senior year.”

A smaller change introduced was the name change for the Speech and Theatre Department to Media, Speech and Theatre.

“Name changes are certainly about communication with Speech and Theatre, the feeling around the school was the department name as a whole was missing one of their three branches,” Sally said.

Significant changes, including the addition of new classes, all originate with teachers and eventually get reviewed by the board members.

“There are constantly new ideas for classes that are being thought up by departments. I would almost say all of them originate with teachers. It’s a very bottom up, grassroots practice,” Sally said.

Student demand also establishes new classes. The Film 2 class and the AP Music Theory class are being introduced next year for students who want to take the next step to get the attention of colleges and summer programs.

The Media, Speech and Theatre Department chair, Nina Lynn, said, “We’ve had students who’ve learned the skills in the first class and they were getting more advanced assignments within the class itself, but that wasn’t being recognized on their transcript.”

Lynn explained how students who were advanced in Film Production would retake the class for several years while further progressing their film skills.

Therefore, Film Production 2 will entail the same progressions that advanced students were introduced to originally.

The Media, Speech and Theatre department is discussing new classes for when the new arts facility opens. Lynn said, “The goal is for there to be a Film Production 3 and our hope is to also offer a broadcast journalism class. We’ll widen the experiences for students.”

The AP Music Theory class was created with the same idea of widening student experiences. David Ladd, the Music Department chair, said, “It’s been a gap in our program and most schools, especially the schools around us, already have it. It’s geared more towards taking the AP test and the current Advanced Music Theory and Composition was geared more towards writing compositions.”

Whether or not these new classes make it to the 2017-2018 Program of Studies depends on registration.

However, the overall reason for all these changes is to continue meeting student needs. “If a student is interested in our discipline, we are going to find a way for those students to advance in any way that we can,” said Lynn.