Class requirements for each grade will soon be seeing major changes
By Kimmy Sullivan, ’15
Starting next fall, the social studies curriculum at the high school will see an array of changes. The new curriculum will require freshmen to take U.S. History, sophomores to take U.S. Government and seniors to take Global History. The changes will be implemented per year; that is, the students who are already at the high school will continue on the original class track next year, while next year’s freshman class will begin with U.S. History and pave the way for all of the classes that follow.
One major reason for the change is new state graduation requirements and testing. AP Government teacher and social studies department co-chair Rob Soccorsi explains this change.
“The state has gotten rid of the OGT and … created new state end-of-course exams that all students have to take, and students have to earn a certain number of points on these tests in order to graduate,” Soccorsi said. “Reason one was to accommodate that, so that students who would not pass those tests would have multiple chances to pass.”
The change was also brought on in an attempt to better align the high school’s curriculum with the current middle school curriculum.
“In eighth grade, students take the first half of American history, so it kind of makes sense that ninth grade would take the rest,” Soccorsi said. “Eighth grade is supposed to go up to the civil war, and then ninth grade curriculum starts with reconstruction right after the civil war, [and finishes with] the present.”
Though the changes are logical, some worry about U.S. Government becoming a sophomore class. Principal Andrew Theado feels that this change isn’t great, but is necessary.
“That change is not the most ideal, because it does make sense having young adults, as they’re getting ready to leave, start thinking about government and voting [and] their role in that,” Theado said. “Government sophomore year is probably the least ideal, but I think it is very doable for sophomores to take a government class.”
Soccorsi also worries about the practicality of U.S. Government as a sophomore course.
“I think that Government is great for seniors because students at that age are engaged in the political process, more likely to do things like volunteer on campaigns or work on solving problems in the community, they’re either voting or close to voting.” Soccorsi said. “They’re more engaged in the process, and I’m worried a little bit that as sophomores, we’ll lose a lot of that.”
Another concern is the loss of AP U.S. History as the sophomores’ first AP course. Due to the change, AP U.S. History will be offered to juniors as an elective; however, when next year’s freshmen enter their sophomore year, AP Government will be offered to sophomores in its place.
“As far as a net gain or loss of AP courses, it’ll remain exactly the same,” Soccorsi said.
Theado also mentioned the possibility of new AP courses for seniors in the future.
“One course we have not offered is an AP equivalent of Global History, because that’s been in freshman year,” Theado said. “So that will be a new option, I’m assuming, down the road. It’s something we’ll have to look at – our IB and AP offerings that relate to Global History.”
Soccorsi said he thinks there are pros and cons to the change.
“I think given the hand we were dealt, it was the right thing to do.”
Although the change may not be ideal in every aspect, Theado said the administration worked with the social studies department and made the decisions based on what they thought was best.