Ten new classes are set to appear in Palo Alto High School’s course catalogue in the next two years.
Four of five Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education members voiced support for these additions and agreed to place the courses on the consent calendar at their meeting on Jan. 10, virtually guaranteeing the classes,’ approval. Board President Terry Godfrey was unable to participate in the meeting due to an injury, and thus did not have the opportunity to present her stance on the issue.
A particularly noteworthy addition is Non- Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus, a course that students and teachers alike have been advocating for, will likely be available for the 2017-2018 school year. While the curriculum for the class has not been finalized, it is likely that the course will cover a quarter’s worth of college-level calculus; if the class works quickly, students may even get through another such quarter. The math department sees the addition of a less intensive calculus class as an alternative way to teach Calculus to students without overwhelming them with the university-level rigor and time constraints that hold true to the AP label.
“We will certainly delve into the topics that a regular AB Calculus course would do, we wouldn’t necessarily go into depth. We will have the freedom to slow down.”
Arne Lim, Instructional Supervisor of Paly’s math department.
Many Paly seniors strongly agree with Lim’s sentiments.
“If there was an AB [Calculus class] that wasn’t AP I would definitely take that,” senior Donnesh Farman said. “I was initially in the AB lane, but I ended up dropping because I was hearing a lot of bad things about it. A lot of people didn’t like it, and I didn’t want to take a math AP because I’m not strong in math, but I didn’t want to take Pre-Calculus that I have essentially already done.”
Also moved to the consent calendar at the most recent Board Meeting was AP Capstone, a two-year research program. AP Capstone’s first-year course is AP Seminar, which teaches students basic research skills, students will then have the opportunity to perform original research any subject they wish to in AP Research, AP Capstone’s second-year course.
AP Capstone will work similarly to Paly’s new Advanced Authentic Research (AAR) course, which also gives students an opportunity to perform research. However AP Capstone will work within the time frame and constraints of a College Board-certified AP class, including an end of the year assessment similar to a normal AP structure, although AP Capstone offers a special degree to students who score higher than a three on both AP tests, rather than college credit.
“Our vision at this point would be to share curriculum between [AAR and AP Capstone],” said Paly Math Teacher Deanna Chute. “In [AP Capstone], it would be doing a cumulative project, or you could take the one year class [AAR] and in that case you can almost think of it as a more condensed version of the two classes.”
The new courses are designed not only for stretching minds. Yoga, coming to Paly in the next two years, will attempt to provide students unengaged by the team sport curriculum of standard Physical Education with yet another alternative. Unlike standard P.E. Yoga will try to inject elements of social-emotional learning into the curriculum. The Yoga class includes course-work designed teach students “relieve stress” and “learn to relax.”