Coefield addresses concerns about updated PHS course offerings

PELHAM – The 2018-19 Course Selection Guide for Pelham High School was approved at a Pelham Board of Education meeting Monday, Feb. 26.

The approved guide includes the deletion of one course, Competitive Writing, and the substitution of other courses with more up-to-date versions.

Pelham City Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Coefield said there’s a misconception that the approval of a new bell schedule at the high school is forcing the district to drop classes at PHS.

“The bell schedule has nothing to do with the courses being offered,” Coefield said. “Only one class is actually being dropped but we’re not dropping the skill being taught. Working with kids on college applications and scholarships should not be a class just for those who can fit it into their schedule. It should be an expectation and something exposed to every student.”

Coefield said learning about how to apply for college and scholarships will be embedded into every 12th grade English class. He said it’s also the responsibility of guidance counselors, who he said have handled it “terrifically.”

He said the teacher who taught the competitive writing class will now be free to teach a core English class, which will decrease class sizes in the English department.

“This is a better use of our teachers,” he said.

Advanced placement (AP) computer science is being substituted with the Project Lead the Way Computer Software course. Website Development is being embedded into Career Tech Multimedia Designs.

“Plus, we are adding a graphic arts class, which is more robust,” Coefield said.

Sculpture is being replaced with graphic arts, a class that art teachers and students prefer, and musical theater is being replaced with a dance class.

“We’re adding dance at the request of the students, plus we have a teacher with the certification to teach it,” Coefield said.

The journalism class is being consolidated into the broadcast journalism course. AP Chemistry is being substituted with AP Physics and AP Environmental Science.

“We only have three teachers who can teach AP Chemistry and they will be teaching AP Physics and AP Environmental,” Coefield said. “Students requested those two courses, not AP Chemistry.”

Coefield said choices for the English and history classes are all about raising expectations. There are three levels of English in 11th and 12th grades, standard, honors and AP. Honors English is a different course than AP Language and AP Literature.

There are two levels of English, standard and honors, in ninth and 10th grades and that fits with the structure at Pelham Park Middle School, which has standard and pre-AP English classes.

“The Honors History and AP History courses are the same content,” Coefield said. “Creating three levels of history is not recommended because it will lower expectations and help foster an achievement gap. The number of students signing up for AP History will decrease because they will see an easier route in Honors History.”

Coefield said two levels increase expectations because more kids will sign up for AP History and the standard course will be taught at a higher level.

Community stakeholders can provide feedback to Coefield and the Pelham Board of Education by sending an email to PCSfeedback@pelhamcityschools.org.