In a nine period schedule, students must choose courses that peak their interest to meet graduation requirements and to meet future goals. An average high school student has the opportunity to take an average of twenty four classes throughout his high school career, while working around time, state and federal obligations and curricular requirements. Students have choices and the school district has obligations to meet.
“[Every year] each department assesses their classes, makes changes, and recommendations in order to focus on the needs of the students,” said assistant-principal Chad Krehlik. The department heads, after meeting with members of the department, recommend curricular changes to the administration.
Greater Latrobe’s curriculum changes to meet the needs of the students in this ever-changing world. Capstone for example, is now taught by Mrs. Carol Wright, were as in the past, five different teachers of different disciples shared the responsibilities.
The foreign language department is changing in this global society; after Mrs. Brownson’s retirement the Latin course was no longer offered. Chinese, the most widely spoken language ahead of English in 2013 according to Information Please Database, is now offered as a language choice.
Within a department, members evaluate the courses they offer and adjust accordingly. The decision to restructure European Literature and History to just a single history credit, was because of the pressures of the Keystones-a state mandated requirement. Mrs. Rebecca Snyder, the English teacher-leader recommended that if the literature portion of the class were to be dropped, another period for sophomore English would be open.
“This fall, after we didn’t make AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress),” said Mrs. Penzera. She pondered what was best for the sophomores to bring up the test scores. Penzera discussed dropping the literature portion of the class in order to focus more of English-teacher time and devotion on those who who will be required to pass the Keystones.
European History and Literature, is a co-curricular and co-taught course. This nontraditional course emulates a college-like environment, blend both history and English. Currently, thirty-six students in “Euro” don’t outweigh the three hundred sophomores whose test scores are scrutinized by the state. “Cutting off an arm to save the head. If you cut off the head (sophomores), the whole body (the building) will die,” said Penzera. Lower numbers in classes means more time devoted to individual students. Even though “Euro” is an unique hands-on and discussion-based course, the school needs to focus on the needs of the requirements of every student.
The history department will continue to salvage what is left of the class through a one-period European History class.
Curricular are decisions made purely to benefit the school as a whole and the students who need more assistance to improve test scores. The potential test scores combined with the discretion of the department will impact the classes that are offered in any single year. However, the only thing in life that is for sure is change. Courses and departments change and reconstruct to cater to the students needs.