To help high school students best select the classes they are going to take, the Albany County School District No. 1 Board of Education approved new curriculum guides specialized for Laramie, Whiting and Rock River high schools Wednesday.
The curriculum guides list the different classes each school has along with providing information about the classes such as if it is required to graduate and prerequisites for classes.
ACSD No. 1 Assistant Superintendent John Weigel said before each of the high schools had previously all used LHS’s guides. But courses offered at LHS might not be offered elsewhere, which could make registering for classes at Rock River and Whiting more difficult, he said.
“(Whiting High School and Rock River High School) used to go off the one for Laramie High School but they couldn’t offer the same courses because they don’t have the same amount of teachers,” Weigel said. “Those two just have fewer opportunities in terms of course work, but they have the same guaranteed curriculum for those core areas.”
Before the board approved the guides, several board members voiced their concerns about some problems they saw in the guides. Board of Education Trustee Karen Bienz said a concern she had was in the Rock River guide, it wasn’t always clear which classes are required to graduate.
“In their graduation requirements, they mention that civics is a required class,” Bienz said. “When you get down into the choices for social studies courses, civics is only listed as a choice … somehow civics needs to be highlighted so students know that although it is an elective, it must be completed by graduation.”
The ethics of having a class do more work than similar classes in the same department was also discussed when the board was reviewing course descriptions in the guides. Board of Education Trustee Dona Coffey said she noticed a high-level Spanish class has summer work other high-level language classes don’t have.
“There is a couple of sentences that say there is summer work requirements (and) we see that requirement in other classes,” Coffey said. “It seems to me that if you ask the Spanish kids to do all that work that you should be asking all the other kids in the language department to be doing it, too.”
Another portion of the guides that sparked conversation among the board was an outline for how students advance to higher grade levels.
In the LHS curriculum guide, one credit is equal to a one year-long class, and students have to have a certain amount of credits to move to the next grade level. Coffey said she was concerned to see freshmen only need a few credits to become sophomores.
“The question I have is (students) can be 10th graders with only five credits?” she said. “It just seemed odd to me that five credits would be enough to keep them going.”
Laramie High School Principal Chuck Kern said freshmen can become sophomores with five credits, but the requirement is under review and could change.
Bienz said the credits requirements are set up that way to help students in case they have a rough start in high school. A full course load for the students is seven classes a year, if a student doesn’t receive credit for two classes, they have to make sure they receive credit for the rest of their classes, she said.
“I think, this was suggesting that if perhaps you had a rough start, that there was an opportunity to catch up if you keep to the schedule,” Bienz said.
“There is no room for error, so if you start at 18 and you need 25 to graduate, that is a full course load as a senior.”