Kari-Highman's-Curriculum-Changes-Story-ImageHistory is going to lose the richness of the literature.  [It’s going to] lose the uniqueness.” American Studies teacher Betsy Sidor

New Common Core standards to impact UAHS courses in upcoming years

by kariHIGHMAN, ’13

UAHS has introduced numerous changes this school year: a new principal, a new assistant principal, and new guidelines for course work, including projects like senior Capstone. From next year onward, there will be one more modification added to the list: new Common Core guidelines that will alter the classroom curriculum for several subjects.

Teachers and administration are changing the curriculum in both American Studies and Advanced Functions and Trigonometry courses to better align them with the new Common Core rules. According to its website, the Common Core is a set of standards for learning, divided by grade level and subject that all students should get within their 12 years of schooling, that help them to be prepared for college courses as well as the workplace.

The site also noted that there are 45 states with the standards in place, and that Ohio adopted them on June 18, 2010.

AFT teacher Andrew Tweddle said the standards will impact the course names and the coursework for teachers. They will have to rearrange what time of year they will teach a topic, as well as realign the topics of the course. Also, there will be less repetition when it comes to reviewing material. Students will be more accountable for year-to-year retention.

The new levels of courses will start with Algebra in ninth grade, Geometry in tenth, and then Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus in junior and senior years, respectively, said Tweddle.

The standards for American Studies are leading to a separation of what was originally a combined English and social studies course, into two separate classes of literature and history. According to American Studies English teacher Melissa Hasebrook, she and Scott Yant, as well as Nate Palmer and Bruce Campbell are the only two pairs of teachers that have stayed together through this year.

“[It’s] getting rid of the team taught nature of it,” Hasebrook said. She also said that allowing the teachers to be separate from each other will make things run more smoothly, as well as lessen the planning for some of them.

Despite her fondness for the original program, Hasebrook thinks that the new curriculum changes will be beneficial for students because of the smaller classes.

Betsy Sidor, another American Studies teacher who’s taught both AP and regular courses for 12 years, agreed.

“The thing I really like [about the split] is the smaller class [size]… Rooms are big enough to move in groups. I get to know the students better.”

Another thing that Sidor appreciates about the class size is that if a student is not thriving, they could be moved to another class, which would give them a second chance.

Unfortunately, according to both Hasebrook and Sidor, the connection between the two subjects is gone with the changes.

“Integrating the curriculum [was] really nice… I miss that. History is going to lose the richness of the literature. [It’s going to] lose the uniqueness.”

Sophomore Mina Ibraheem, who is currently enrolled in American Studies, agreed with Sidor’s opinion.

“[Having both of the classes together] shows different perspectives and opinions. Separately, there [won’t] be a [solid] connection.”

Hasebrook noted that she will miss the special connection brought together by the two subjects.

“There’s a [certain] depth that happens when you connect the history and literature,” she said.