New measures give county students greater scheduling flexibility

Published 2:23 pm Friday, December 20, 2013

By KATIE MCDOWELL/Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – Shelby County students will have greater flexibility in scheduling their classes thanks to several measures passed by the Shelby County Board of Education during its Dec. 20 meeting in Columbiana.

The board approved the expansion of dual enrollment/dual credit classes for high school students, awarding high school credit to eighth grade students for completion of Algebra I and Spanish I and the expansion of Get-Ahead courses for rising seniors.

Dual enrollment/credit – High school students can now take English 12 and pre-calculus for dual enrollment/credit courses. This allows the students to earn high school and college credit for the course. The classes are offered though a partnership with Jefferson State Community College, University of Montevallo and University of Alabama and will be taught in a variety of locations, including county high schools, college campuses or other central locations. The classes will be taught by college instructors or Shelby County teachers who have a master’s degree and 18 hours in the subject. Other dual enrollment courses offered include Western civilization, speech, psychology and sociology. Shelby County Schools had 215 students enrolled in dual enrollment/dual credit elective courses in fall 2013.

Algebra I/Spanish I high school credit – Eighth grade students can now receive high school credit for Algebra I or Spanish I, if they make a 70 or higher in the course.

“It really just offers a little bit more flexibility for our students by giving them these credits in eighth grade,” Shelby County Schools Superintendent of Instruction Dr. Lynn Cook said.

While many county middle schools offer Spanish electives over a six- or nine-week period, only one school is implementing a full-year course of Spanish I, Cook said.

Robin Thomas, Shelby County Schools high school coordinator, said one reason Spanish I is included in the measure is for students who transfer from other school systems, such as Mountain Brook and Hoover, where Spanish I is offered in eighth grade.

“They would have to take Spanish II and Spanish III in order to get the Advanced Academic diploma,” he said.

Get-Ahead courses – The school system will now offer government/economics as part of its Get-Ahead program for rising seniors.

Thomas said each school will survey rising seniors to gauge their interest in the course. If there are enough students, the class will be taught in summer school.

“That gives them the opportunity to take the dual enrollment classes when they become seniors,” Shelby County Schools Superintendent Randy Fuller said.

Thomas said the classes will be taught by “highly qualified” teachers and will include a minimum of 70 hours of class time. Students may attend the class at another Shelby County school if necessary.

Driver’s education and health are also offered during the summer through community education.