Curriculum Review

FINAL PROPOSAL

After a thorough analysis of the current social science sequence, and after much deliberation and collaboration with the social science department, the guidance department, outside schools and colleges, as well as the administration, the Curriculum Review Committee is prepared to make a final proposal.

Essential Criteria for Improving the Social Science Sequence:

          The overlap of similar topics and material in the course sequence must be eliminated.

          A course that specifically addresses geographic concepts is currently lacking in the required social science sequence and should be included.

          The social science curriculum should be adjusted with the least amount of disruption to the teachers and students.

          A curriculum enabling the teachers to focus on skills should be established.

          Each grade level should be allowed more control over texts, materials, and focus of the course to grade level instructors.

          Students will be better prepared for academic and college success through a Pre-AP program.

          A sequence that facilitates interdisciplinary opportunities should be created.

 

Collaborative Sources:

  The Committee has conducted an exhaustive review of the social science curriculum with the collaboration of a variety of sources.  The following is a list of those sources with key insights:

         Professional Organizations:  APSA (American Political Science Association), the NCSS (National Council for the Social Sciences), and the NCGE (National Council for Geographic Education).

1.      Students should take classes enabling them to master progressively more difficult skills.

2.      It is universally agreed that writing descriptive bullet essays are less difficult than analytical document-based essays.

3.      Courses that cover a narrower scope are less difficult and therefore more preferable at the lower grade levels than courses that cover a broader spectrum of material.

4.      United States government is the uniformly recommended course for 7th grade.  Special attention to local politics and active involvement on the part of the students is recommended.

5.      Human geography is more conceptual whereas physical geography is more linear.

6.      Human Geography is an excellent introduction course as it provides a fundamental overview of all social science disciplines.  In addition, the nature of the course enables students to begin thinking more conceptually than chronologically.

 

         Colleges and Universities: Many colleges and universities were sent questionnaires to provide us with a clearer indication of their academic preferences.

1.      There is a definite correlation between AP and college success.

2.      In 9th and 10th grade, emphasis is placed on success on the actual AP exam.

3.      In 11th and 12th grade, emphasis is placed on success throughout the school year in challenging courses.

4.      ETS guidelines are generally representative of college courses.

 

         ETS and Other Schools:  The Committee has been in contact with many schools via email, listserves, and personal conversations to gather ideas and observe alternate programs.

1.      A substantial and surprising number of schools are currently undertaking similar reviews of their curriculum and sequence.   

2.      All schools contacted have come to similar conclusions in that a pre-AP program beginning in the Middle School is a prudent course of action.

3.      A considerable number of schools offer AP courses beginning in the 9th grade.

4.      Two members of the Committee attended a pre-AP conference in which they had specific contact with other teachers whose schools are launching vertical teams consisting of Middle and Upper School faculty.  Key topics dealt with establishing clear goals for the team, maintaining the focus of the participants, and a variety of teaching strategies were discussed.

 

         Guidance:  The Guidance Office has been consulted throughout the process.

1.      A course addressing modern world history is a State requirement for the acceptance into Florida public universities.

2.      A Pre-AP program is recommended beginning at the Middle School to provide our students with the best possible academic preparation for college acceptance and college achievement.

3.      Academic stress for students and teachers can be reduced across the board by providing a framework of content and skill guidelines that facilitates AP familiarity.

4.      A course with an AP option would be an advantage for freshmen for competitive college acceptance.

 

         Department:  The faculty has been an indispensable source of information and inspiration.

1.      The overlap of topics must be eliminated with the least disruption to the teachers and students.

2.      Geographic concepts should be introduced with global connections.

3.      Skill acquisition should be progressively taught and assessed from Middle School to Upper School .

4.      Teachers and students will be more effectively prepared by defining prerequisite skills for each level.

5.      Teachers should be given more control over their own content and resource materials.

6.      Electives at the junior and senior levels must be preserved and enhanced.

7.      The implementation of AP United States History in 10th grade has been a great success, which encourages us to bring an AP course into 9th grade.  This is bolstered by the fact that other schools have experienced success in offering AP courses for 9th grade.

8.      Integrate English and the Humanities into the Social Science curriculum.

 

Recommendations:

1.      The recommended sequence for Social Science:

      6th - Foundations of Civilization (ancient history emphasizing physical geography and worldwide cultures)

      7th American Government (a course concentrating on local, state, and national government in the United States )

      8th Global Connections (history up to 1750 emphasizing comparative concepts in a chronological framework)

      9th The Modern World (modern world history using human geography as a conceptual framework for the nonlinear study of history with an AP option)

      10th United States History (emphasizes post 1750 history, the U.S. Constitution, and the American political system through primary documents with an AP option)

      11th&12th Electives (encouraging faculty and student generated courses as well as the standard AP coverage)

2.      The Middle School should implement these changes beginning in the 2003-04 school year.

3.      The 9th grade should implement these changes beginning in the 2004-05 school year.

4.      The 9th grade teachers must be given adequate time and resources for training and curriculum development during the 2003-04 school year.

5.      The creation of a cross-departmental committee should be implemented at the 9th grade level to take advantage of the interdisciplinary opportunities created by this sequence change.