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Parents of Smithsburg High School students voice concerns about proposed class schedule

More than 50 people showed up to learn about new Common Core Curriculum

May 02, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG — Parents listed their concerns Wednesday night about whether their children will be able to take the types of courses they want under a new class schedule being considered for Smithsburg High School.

More than 50 parents, students and others showed up in the high school auditorium to hear Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox and Rick Akers, director of secondary schools, discuss plans to implement the new Common Core Curriculum.

The proposal, which could extend to the county’s other high schools, would have language and core subjects — math, science, English and history — taught in yearlong courses, Clyde Harrell, director for curriculum and instruction, has said previously.

Akers said Wednesday that the approach will add 42 hours of instruction to every required course in mathematics, English, social studies and science.

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Although he said Smithsburg High students show strong proficiency in various areas, Wilcox cited has concerns about too few students tackling more rigorous courses.

Wilcox also said reading skills at the middle school level are not where he wants them, and the issue manifests itself in high school.

There has been a question raised among parents that the new curriculum could reduce how many advanced placement, or AP, tests students can take.

Although there was discussion Wednesday about students taking up to eight or nine AP classes, Wilcox said the county average is 1.7 AP classes per student.

Marcy Baxter said her daughter, who in the 11th grade at Smithsburg, wants to major in biology in college and has been preparing for her field of study since the eighth grade.

Baxter said the way she understands the new plan, her daughter would have less time to complete laboratory work in her science classes.

Her daughter will have to complete her lab work either before or after a day of classes, “which is absurd. Not every (family) can do that,” Baxter said.

Allison Banzhoff, whose son attends Smithsburg High, said she is worried about students who are interested in the arts, drama and theater, especially the students who have decided to make those areas their career track.

“You’re basically telling them they are screwed until they get to college,” Banzhoff said.

Akers said he think students are still going to be able to get close to everything they want. But, no matter what kind of schedule students have, they cannot take everything they want, he said.

Akers also discussed the vast changes that come under the new curriculum.

He said 42 states will use the system, and they will all have the same assessment methods. One state will not be able to change its assessment test to make it look better than other states, Akers said.

“It very scary on how challenging this will be,” Akers said.

Wilcox said the curriculum has not been finalized.

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