More Curriculum Changes on Horizon in St. Mary's - Southern Maryland Headline News

More Curriculum Changes on Horizon in St. Mary's

School Board to Consider Variety of New Courses

By Andrea Shiell, County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (Nov. 20, 2008)—Charles E Ridgell, Director of Curriculum and Instruction for St. Mary’s County Public Schools, presented curriculum revisions to the Board of Education at last Wednesday’s meeting, many of which would serve as intervention courses to help students achieve passing scores on the high school assessments.

Among the intervention courses that might be added are Explorations in Science, which is designed as an intervention course for students who are not yet ready for basic biology at the 9th grade level, as well as revisions to current mathematics offerings.

One revision to math classes would be a realignment of the algebra curriculum to include a foundations course and a third algebra course for students that complete Algebra 2 but are not yet ready to enter pre-calculus.

“We’re finding that there is a group of students who could benefit from another year of algebra before beginning pre-calculus,” explained Ridgell, adding that other algebra courses would be realigned, eliminating Algebra B and instead offering the foundations course for at-risk students, the regular Algebra 1 course, and an extended Algebra 1 course that would be taught in 90 minute learning blocks, as well as Algebra 1 CM for students who were more proficient.

Ridgell and members of the board are hoping to push more students to take algebra courses in middle school, thereby providing pathways for them to complete their HSA requirements on time.

“There’s a lot of discussion about HSAs but there’s a misnomer that people think it’s something that happens their senior year,” said school Superintendent Michael Martirano. “A student can actually complete the HSA requirement by 10th grade,” he added. Ridgell later confirmed that HAS completion by sophomore year is the goal system-wide.

The board will also consider changing the prerequisites for AP Calculus BC to require AP Calculus AB or the approval of the instructor, sequencing the two courses.

Several new courses are being proposed for the Academy of Finance at Chopticon High School, including certificate of merit courses for Introduction to Financial Services, Securities, Insurance, International Finance, Economics, Financial Planning, and Entrepreneurship.

Additionally, the board will look at approving more vocational offerings, including two levels of carpentry, masonry, and residential and industrial wiring.

Also proposed are expansions of the Allied Health twoyear program to include a third year in accordance with the Maryland State Department of Education model, additional years of American Sign Language and Chinese, and an intervention course designed to help transition new 9th grade students to high school.

It all adds up to a total of 16 new courses, as well as three extended learning blocks to be offered for English, Algebra, and Geometry.

“Nine of them are for the academy of finance,” said Ridgell, “but only two of them would be added next year, the other seven would be added in out years,” he said.

Board member Cathy Allen commented that she did not foresee any need for the school system to hire additional teachers for these new courses, and she expected to see all of them successfully added for the 2009-2010 school year.

“I think it is quite likely we’ll be able to get all of these courses online…they’ve gone ahead with the funds to purchase the textbooks for them…and I would not expect them to propose changes they couldn’t afford,” she said.

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