South Orange-Maplewood School District staff presented recommendations for reconfiguring academic placements in the high school tonight.
Columbia High School Principal Dr. Lovie Lilly presented along with three academic supervisors in three fields of study — English Language Arts, Social Studies and Science.
Dr. Lilly first presented an historical analysis on the topic of de-leveling at the high school dating back to a report submitted in 1993 that recommended that the district "adopt driving principles including high standards for all students, equal access for all students ... and the removal of any institutional obstacles to equity and excellence."
"So this has been a long conversation," said Dr. Lilly.
Gary Pankiewicz, supervisor of ELA for grades 6-12; Christopher Preston, supervisor of social studies for grades 6-12; and Alan Levin, supervisor of science for grades 6-12 all presented in their areas. Supervisors revealed detailed and sometimes very nuanced recommendations.
Each supervisor seemed very excited about the proposed changes and offered examples of how recent changes that increased access to students at varying levels had resulted in improved outcomes. Besides collapsing levels in some cases, converting Level 4 to honors in others, and elevating and simplifying teaching and grading of electives, there would also be new criteria in some cases for placing students.
Regarding the proposed change to open electives to all students but teach them at an honors level, Pankiewicz explained, "This proposal says, 'Let's stop having different assessments for these students and provide supports for students.' Our department realizes that will be the biggest challenge."
To prepare students to meet the requirements of the honors course, Preston spoke of creating a summer course "Successful Strategies for Social Studies" for students entering grades 9-11. Likewise, Levin said there would be an additional "step up" class for rising 9th graders for summer 2012 to prepare more students to meet the prerequisites for the biology honors course.
The recommendations are:
English Language Arts
- 9th grade: Read 180, English I Level 2, English I Level 3, or English I Level 4.
- 10th grade: English II level 2, English II Level 3, or English II Level 4.
- 11th grade: American Lit Level 2, a multi-level elective course, or AP English Language.
- 12th grade: English Essentials Level 2, a multi-level elective course, or AP English Literature.
- 11th and 12th grades: There are 12 elective courses. All of them are heterogeneously grouped multi-level elective courses and open to all 11th and 12th grade students who are not placed in American Lit Level 2 (11th graders) or English Essentials Level 2 (12th graders).
- 10th, 11th and 12th grades: Supplemental English courses are in addition to the English Language Arts course. Academic Placement is governed by the Academic Level Placement document.
- 9th grade: Read 180, English I double period, English I, English I Honors.
- 10th grade: English II plus supplemental, English II, English II Honors.
- 11th grade: American Lit plus supplemental, an elective course, or AP English Language.
- 12th grade: English Essentials plus supplemental, an elective course, or AP English Language.
- All elective classes taught and graded at Honors level.
Changes to criteria
- 9th grade students who score above 205 on the NJASK 8 would not be placed in either Read 180 or English I with double period.
- 11th and 12th grade electives would be honors and open to all students not placed in American Lit plus supplemental (11th grade) or English Essentials plus supplemental (12th grade).
- Other criteria remain the same.
This proposal does not entail changes to the weighting of grades for the various ELA courses. All electives would be taught as well as weighted at the honors level.
- 9th grade: World History Level 2, World History Level 3, World History Level 4.
- 10th grade: American History and Culture (for English Language Learners year 1 of 2-year course), US History 1 Level 2, US History 1 Level 3, US History 1 Level 4, AP US History (1st year of 2-year AP course)
- 11th grade: American History and Culture (for English Language Learners, year 2 of 2-year course), US History 2 Level 2, US History 2 Level 3, US History 2 Level 4, AP US History (2nd year of 2-year AP course), option to take additional elective or AP European History, AP Government & Politics
- 12th grade. Electives.
- AP course (European History, Psychology, Government and Politics US, Government and Politics Comparatives). Criteria: teacher recommendation, grades.
- There are 9 multilevel courses. All of them are heterogeneously grouped and open to all 11th and 12th graders.
- 9th grade: World History (for English Language Learners), Literacy strategies through World History, World History (taught at current honors level)
- 10th grade: American History and Culture (for ELL — year 1 of 2-year course), Literacy Strategies through US History 1, US History 1 (taught at current honors level), AP US History (1st year of 2-year AP course)
- 11th grade: American History and Culture (for ELL — year 2 of 2-year course), US History 2 (taught at current honors level), Literacy Strategies through US Hisotry 2, AP US History (2nd year of 2-year AP course), option to take additional elective.
- 12th grade: electives
- AP course (European History, Psychology, Government and Politics US, Government and Politics Comparatives). Criteria: teacher recommendation, grades
- There would be 9 honors electives to choose from, heterogeneously grouped and open to all 11th and 12th graders.
Changes to criteria:
- 9th grade students taking Read 180 or English I with double period would take Literacy strategies through World Hhistory. All other students would take World History.
- 10th and 11th grade students who do not meet criteria to take AP US History would take US History I (10th grade) and US History 2 (11th grade).
- 11th and 12th grade non-AP electives would be honors and open to all students
- No changes to criteria for AP classes.
World History, US History 1 and US History 2 would be taught and weighted at the honors level.
Science (changes are limited to Grade 9 biology)
Current: Biology for English Language Learners (ELL), Biology Level 2, Biology Level 3, Biology Level 4
Proposed: Biology for ELL, Biology, Biology Honors
Changes to criteria: Ther criteria for Biology Honors would be the current Level 4 criteria. All other students would take Biology other than ELL students who would continue to take Biology for ELLs.
Patch will publish the full text of the proposal when it is forwarded by the School District.