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New schedule would alter how Smithsburg High subjects are taught

Change could be implemented at other schools

April 17, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

Washington County Public Schools officials are reviewing the possibility of changing Smithsburg High School’s class schedule for the upcoming school year — a move that could also be made at the county’s other high schools the following school year.

The change is about finding a way to deliver the new Common Core curriculum, in which subjects will be taught more in-depth, Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said.

The change being discussed would have language and core subjects — math, science, English and history — taught in yearlong courses, said Clyde Harrell, director for curriculum and instruction.

Band and orchestra might also be yearlong courses, but there could still be some subjects taught in semester blocks, Harrell said.

Smithsburg now has a hybrid schedule that includes two semester-long courses each semester, he said.

“It’s not a done deal, but it’s kind of carved in wet cement,” Wilcox said of Smithsburg’s schedule for the next school year.

Smithsburg High was chosen to pilot the schedule change because there was already discussion there about alternative schedules, and there is little “mobility” in its student population. Mobility usually refers to the number of students who move in and out of a school.

Two Smithsburg High parents expressed concerns about the possible schedule change a Washington County Board of Education meeting Tuesday. They said other parents had concerns, but couldn’t attend the 1 p.m. meeting.

Donna Gerhold and Jeanne Conlon said the schedule change would reduce how many advanced placement, or AP, tests students can take.

Conlon also said she was concerned about whether students would be able to take courses such as band.

Wilcox said school system officials are creating sample schedules to show students would still have choices.

As for AP courses, Wilcox said he was more concerned with the rigor and relevance of those courses than how many advanced classes students take.

Although Wilcox said the schedule change isn’t about test scores, he and other school system officials said scores might benefit from the change.

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