UBSCT, Decathlon classes approved
Both high-achieving and struggling students will get some extra attention next year, courtesy of two newly approved classes by the Park City Board of Education.
Park City High School will offer a new class for the Academic Decathlon team next year, plus one for helping students who need help with the Utah Basic Skills Competency Test, which they must pass in order to graduate with a traditional diploma.
Educators can design their own courses like this, which must then be approved by their principal and the School Board, which approved these two courses at its meeting last week. "It gives us one more opportunity to offer classes that may assist students in one way or another," said high school Principal Hal Smith. "These are classes that are not within the state-approved list and that is why they need to be approved by a local board. They are broader based or more unique than those courses that are listed in the state guidelines."
The Utah Basic Skills Competency Test (UBSCT) consists of three sections: reading, writing, and math. Students take it as sophomores, then have multiple opportunities to pass sections they fail before graduation. According to a report Smith gave at last week’s board meeting, of the 313 senior students at Park City High School and the Park City Learning Center, 92.3 percent have passed the writing test, 92 percent have passed the mathematics portion of the test and 94.8 percent have passed the reading section. The school is taking steps to help those who have not yet passed all three sections. The last test for seniors will be given in February 2006. The class for the Academic Decathlon was designed by the team’s coaches, history teacher John Krenkel and physics teacher Charlie Matthews. Academic Decathlon teams consist of nine students who compete in 10 subjects. The last two years, Park City High School’s team has won the state competition and finished third in the medium-school division at nationals. This year, Park City also won 10th in the nation overall. Krenkel said, "I think I speak for both Charlie and me (and the junior team members, too) when I say that having an Academic Decathlon class at PCHS opens up whole new horizons for our Academic Decathlon team." But it also creates a whole new set of higher expectations, he continued. "The coaches, the team members, and the school community will be expecting to see results from this commitment. But both the possibilities and the expectations are really exciting," Krenkel said.
Anyone from grades nine to twelve can sign up for the class. Assigning team members will be based on performance, so any potential member of the class is a member of the team, or a future team. "Not to say the 10th grader or ninth grader couldn’t compete, it’s just that it’s less likely they’d be able to beat out juniors and seniors," Krenkel said. More classes on the horizon
The board is also considering two more locally developed courses: "Power Training" and "American and World Folk Music." In January, the board will approve or reject them. "Power training is for athletes," Smith said. "I’m sure that a lot of the football students would be using that course, but it should be a broader base than that as well." Strings and orchestra teacher Dennis Harrington designed the folk music class. But just because a teacher designs the class, it doesn’t mean he or she will teach it. "It should be a course anyone can teach. It’s not necessarily you’re going to teach it if you design it," Smith said. "Just because somebody indicates their willingness or excitement to teach it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to." For example, last year Jon Green designed a course called "Science Fiction Literature," which Roger Arsht is teaching. Just because a locally developed course is approved, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be taught. If enough students don’t sign up, the school can’t offer the class. These courses must be submitted by December, because students sign up for classes in February.
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