New Curriculum and Class Changes

Anthony Lockwood, Writer

As Northtown has grown and continued to accept more classes and update its curriculum for 2019 standards like the rest of the district, many people don’t realize the process and the work it takes to change a class curriculum or add a new class entirely.

Ryerson said that in the past it was easier to get a new class, “let’s say I like teaching civil war history, ok. If I want to teach civil war history I would go to the principal and say, hey I’d love to teach a class about civil war history and it would be added… that’s the way it used to work,” and as the district has evolved, they’ve updated how they add classes so that all the schools that have the same grades have access to all the same classes as well.

The process now for a new class includes talking to the district, Ryerson says this – “You have to submit a form, to central office, they sign off on that form and if everybody agrees they want to offer it, they see it fits into something, then they will allow that to be taught.” and then the new class information is given to all the schools. “if the district signs off on it, [it goes to] all 4 high schools, goes into a course catalog, and we can choose what we want to teach and what we don’t want to teach.”

As of now, classes that have been added and/or changed have included some core and technology classes. “couple of IB English classes, being offered recently, they’ve offered those new computer classes, PLTW, CSA stuff, most recent ones were BioMed classes so, human body sciences” Ryerson stated.

If a class curriculum had to be changed, Ryerson said those changes would occur over time, and that process for the following school year would start NOW, “So like if we wanted a new class for the 2020 – 21 school year, we would start that process NOW, that way when we do course selection with you guys, in like January, February, then we would be ready for that at that point”.

Ryerson then commented on the commonality of class changes, “usually its more common to get like a new class, so like a new English class, or a new social studies class,” compared to getting large amounts of class changes – “it depends, sometimes it depends like if we have a new curriculum so like PLTW computers; we’re offering cyber-security here now, CSA, and CSP, those all 3 came in at the same time because it was a brand new curriculum”.

While class changes are underway and to continue to update and offer all that our district can, curriculum changes to classes have become evident in several classes as well. According to Mrs. Barbieri, the ELA department have gone through and are still going through curriculum changes that have completely reorganized entire units of their classes, “we have entirely different units, in ELA, a new structure, different standards, Ap is a lot of the same as it used to be, they just moved a lot of the units around, made it a little more easy to workaround”.

Barbieri also said she, like some of the other teachers, have had to move around units to work with the curriculum changes, “I’ve had to accommodate for some new and different approaches, there have been some concerns of the book clubs, and implications thereof, alongside things like our traditional whole-class texts, or independent reading, or research paper units, and filling enough time in that we are adequately able to cover those topics”.

Barbieri also believes that some teachers aren’t ready for the changes, “for many of us, it is a welcome change, and for some of us you know still kind of trying to figure it out”. Barbieri believes that the changes happen for a reason, as well. “Every couple year we do get a new curriculum, and it really depends on our leadership at a higher level, kind of what we’re looking for, in terms of data, test scores, overall student engagement, and empowerment”. Barbieri also said that the district gets help with curriculum changes as well, “we have new educational consultants every couple of years, that come in that offer us a new way of doing things, and we try to incorporate that within the new curriculum, and some methods are smoother than others.”

So, in the end, new classes can be introduced as the district sees fit, and as the individual schools see fit as well, and that the curriculum changes to classes are beneficial to the district as a whole and allows our district to improve over time.