North Hills schools consider curriculum changes

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Administrators in the North Hills School District are considering adding International Baccalaureate courses and revamping the curriculum in four areas.

Board members heard updates on the plans at their work session last Thursday.

The International Baccalaureate pilot courses would be offered through a partnership with Adrian Public Schools, and would be offered online for eligible students, said Johannah Vanatta, assistant superintendent of secondary education.

“This is not the adoption of a program. This is a course offering,” she said.

Two-year courses would be offered in business and management, information technology, philosophy and high-level mathematics.

“It’s a very nice addition to our academies,” Ms. Vanatta said.

The courses would be offered to incoming juniors who were successful in an advanced placement or “college in high school” class.

It would cost $1,300 per student per course, but administrators estimate that only 24 students are currently eligible and only a few likely would take advantage of them, said superintendent Patrick Mannarino.

“This is a way to offer something that isn’t in the program of studies,” said board member Annette Giovengo Nolish.

Administrators and teachers are currently working on revising the curriculum in secondary mathematics, secondary social studies, art and music. Curriculum reviews run in a six-year cycle, said Jeffrey Taylor, assistant superintendent of curriculum, assessment and special programs.

Kim Wroblewski, a high school math teacher, at the high school, said they are recommending new courses in pre-algebra 1 for ninth graders who are not ready for algebra and Pre-algebra 2 for students who, after taking Algebra 1 and a remediation course, are still not proficient on the Algebra 1 Keystone Exam.

They are also recommending new textbooks with online access for upper level electives, including trigonometry, pre-calculus, calculus, computer science and college algebra, she said.

Those books were last replaced 12 years ago. “The books are in bad shape and have little to no technology support,” she said. “Our students should have books that they can access online.”

She added, however, that a totally online textbook does not always work for math. “For me, and the few students that I've talked to, I feel it would still be nice to have a book. It is hard sometimes for students to scroll through things online.”

In social studies, they would like to revise the class in Pennsylvania history and government. “It has been the same since 1984 or 1986. I took the class in high school,” said Steven Hoza, chair of the social studies department.

Mr. Hoza said the revision would include state and local government, as well as school districts, and would “bring in speakers from the community who serve in various government functions.”

Other plans are to align their format for research papers with the format required for English papers and create interdisciplinary lessons and projects. When studying World War I, for example, it could be aligned with reading “All Quiet on the Western Front” in English, he said.

Another recommendation is offering a “college in high school” psychology class in conjunction with La Roche College, he said.

In art and music, the big item is updating the rooms at West View Elementary.

The art room at West View needs new tables, stools and drying racks to bring them up to the standards of the schools that were renovated in recent years, said West View art teacher Diane Oberst.

“We have three new elementary schools and West View. We have to work on making the facilities at West View the best that we can,” she said. “It’s not hard to work there. It’s hard to work there after you have worked at Ross.”

The art department also recommends revising the current K-12 curriculum and updating the digital cameras, hardware and software used in secondary courses.

The music department recommends updating technology, increasing the instrument inventory and the repair budget and making sure the instrument inventory is the same in each building.

Sandy Trozzo, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


Sandy Trozzo, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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