CLEARFIELD – With the upcoming school building consolidation, the Clearfield Area School District Board of Directors approved new science and math courses, as well as possible electives to be offered at the junior-senior high school campus during the next academic year at Monday night’s combined committee and board meetings.
The secondary science department requested that the seventh and eighth grades shift away from being life science and earth science, respectively. Instead, the department wanted to offer both years as “integrated science,” said Bruce Nicolls, director of curriculum.
When asked by board member Tim Morgan, Nicolls said he plans to propose textbooks and materials for the new science curriculum later this spring. This particular science curriculum, he said, has already been implemented in the K-5 classrooms, and they wanted to expand it into those in grades 6-8.
When asked by board President Mary Anne Jackson, Nicolls said the new science curriculum will not only consist of textbook content, but also exploratory activities. He said lab kits will accompany textbooks and more emphasis will be placed on the students gaining an understanding of the content.
Board member Gail Ralston then asked Nicolls if the seventh and eighth grade students will have access to the science laboratories and equipment at the high school. Nicolls said the seventh and eighth grade science activities will be conducted in a regular classroom, just as the activities currently are at the lower grade levels.
For 10th grade students, Nicolls said the science department wanted to offer a full-year biochemistry class. This course, he said, will expand upon biology concepts and introduce basic chemical principles; it will also consist of topics based upon the students’ Keystone biology exam results and other diagnostic tools.
Board member Rod Rishel pointed out that students were “terribly deficient” in algebra when he taught at the high school. He asked if perhaps they should “tighten up” so far as prerequisites for the biochemistry course. Nicolls explained to Rishel that all students are now required to take algebra, which he said wasn’t the case when Rishel was teaching five years ago.
Also, beginning next academic year, Nicolls said the high school math department wanted to add a college algebra class. The class, he said, will be aligned with the high school’s dual enrollment program, so that it could be taken for college credit.
When asked by Ralston, Nicolls and Principal Tim Janocko said the high school operates under nine-period days and will not look to add staff to offer the course. Janocko pointed out that the students need four math credits, and the staff feels there’s a need for an upper level math course.
Both Nicolls and Janocko said not all students want or need pre-calculus, calculus and trigonometry courses. For that reason, both said “college algebra” was the most practical and more conducive of the students’ needs, which is why the course will be closely aligned with a math syllabus from Penn Highlands Community College.
Nicolls said the family and consumer science department wanted to have the ability to offer four electives – Fashion Strategies and Sewing II/Quilting, both for grades 10-12; Cake Design, grades 11-12; and Healthy Relationships, grades 9-12. These courses, Nicolls said, will take up one semester in the students’ schedules.
Nicolls said the school will not necessarily offer the courses, and their availability will depend upon the number of students who enroll. He pointed out that the high school will gain a family and consumer sciences teacher from the middle school, and they may have periods available to instruct such electives.
Ralston asked if students who sign up for these electives will have a study hall period during the other half of the year. Janocko explained that other semester-long courses are available, and the guidance department tries to limit the students’ study hall periods.