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Curriculum change would reduce course options at Franklin Regional

| Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, 7:16 a.m.

Under a proposed social studies curriculum change, some Franklin Regional High School students would have fewer levels of classes from which to choose.

In recent years, students had three choices for social studies classes — a “regular” course, an honors-level cource or an advanced-placement option. If officials adopt a new curriculum in March, students would have two choices for all core social studies classes beginning in eighth grade – “College and Career Prep” or “Advanced Placement Prep.”

The proposed change, which is part of a complete overhaul to the district's social studies program, would help students focus on the “connectiveness” of historical dates and their lives, said Roberta Chunko, a social studies teacher at the high school. The College and Career Prep course would have more rigor than a typical course, but not to the level of advanced placement courses, she said.

“Those students would move through the curriculum at an accelerated pace with a more in-depth focus on analysis and critical thinking,” Chunko said. “There would be more reading and writing and preparation for the rigor of an AP level course.”

While elective courses such as psychology and creative impulse would still have “honors” sections, at least one board member was uncomfortable with the changes.

“There are individual students that are never going to be proficient,” board member Kimberly Bondi said. “But we keep raising the bar.”

High school Principal Ron Suvak defended the proposal, and said it would offer a better educational experience for students.

“We believe we can provide a better, more supportive, deeper experience for all of our kids across the board,” Suvak said.

Board member Roberta Cook said the decrease in course types would help teens know what they're getting into before registering for a class. Sometimes, Cook said, there are too many choices.

“It's like a 20-speed blender sometimes,” Cook said. “With this, we can compare two different courses that are really, really different.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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