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U-46 Board approves curriculum proposals

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 unanimously approved a pair of high school curriculum proposals to be implemented in the 2019-20 school year, transition math and physical education (PE), at its meeting on Monday, Nov. 19.
  The proposals were approved by 6-0 votes, board member John Devereux was absent.
  There are no cost estimates or resources yet for the transition math courses as it is still under development. The estimated cost for the PE courses is $191,502 ($58.81 estimated per student) broken down between technology ($156,305), software and apps ($12,574), professional development ($10,404), teacher resources ($8,280) and equipment ($3,940).
  The transition math proposal includes three new courses (college algebra, quantitative literacy and statistics, technical math) for seniors who are not considered college or career ready in math by the end of their junior year.
  Students completing the courses successfully, receiving a C or better grade, are “guaranteed placement into a credit bearing math course at any Illinois community college,” according to Josh Carpenter, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. Officials said some four-year universities will also accept it.
  The district stated that since 2006 the number of U-46 graduates needing remedial math courses at Elgin Community College ranged between 60.3 percent and 68.4 percent each year. Currently, the district said about 60 percent of seniors would qualify for the course.
  Board member Melissa Owens said that students in the state skipping math their senior year was a topic of discussion at the Illinois Association of School Boards conference.
  “Over the weekend there was a lot of discussion about this missing gap year of math at the senior level,” Owens said who added she was “really excited to share that this was the direction that we’re going with the transitional math.”
  The PE proposal would provide eight new courses for freshmen to select including two courses in each: functional fitness, strength and performance, walking for wellness and team sports officiating and coaching.
  Although freshmen will be required to choose one of these courses, they will be open to other high school students.
  One of the main beliefs in the proposal was “moving away from the emphasis on team games.”
  Board member Jeanette Ward said her children have had some experience with “some of these kinds of courses” and said their response was “it’s sometimes difficult to get their heart rates up to the prescribed levels.”
  “I was going to suggest you might consider a couple different levels in some of those classes… so that kids just don’t have to jump up and down to get their heart rate up while they’re doing some of the activities that are… not hard enough,” Ward said.
  Tracey Jakaitis, student wellness coordinator, said that was a “great suggestion” and said some of the technology associated with these courses will allow more personalization.
  “With this technology, we can individualize the heart rate band,” Jakaitis said. “Students who are more fit, it’s more challenging to get into the zone then students who are less fit and they get there more quickly. What we need to do when students who are having trouble getting there is work with that teacher to set a different zone for a student who has a hard time getting there.”
  The board also approved by a 6-0 vote $8 million in itemized bills.



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