The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

December 10, 2013

Science credit added at Clinton Schools

By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Beginning next year, incoming freshmen at Clinton High School will be required to take an additional science credit in order to graduate.

At a meeting on Monday, the Clinton School Board approved a proposal to adjust the Clinton High School curriculum that will now require students take Earth science and physics as part of the regular core curriculum.

Clinton High School science teacher Wes Golden and Principal Karinne Tharaldson Jones spoke to the board on Monday about why the new science requirements are a benefit to the district and students.

“One of the things we’ve been talking about and one of the visions we have set forward for the school is to increase the rigor and to really challenge students at Clinton High School,” Golden said. “To bring them to the level that they’re workforce ready and college ready.”

The proposed changes would increase the graduation requirements for science from the current six credits to a total of seven, in four years. Although the science credits would increase, the total credit requirements for graduation would remain at 50.

In order to add a credit to the science curriculum, the school district will remove one credit requirement from the school’s elective program, which raised a few questions from members of the school board.

“I applaud the effort to increase the rigor of these courses, my concern is a little bit on a different level,” school board member Eric Gettes said. “If we increase the number of credits required for graduation, if you’re a student who’s on the honors track, say they take band or choir, it really limits their opportunities to take some of the elective classes that we have to offer.”

Tharaldson Jones expressed her understanding of those concerns and said they had been talked about at length, but felt the additional credit for science would not affect those who wish to take a variety of different elective courses during their high school career.

“I think, I believe, I’m convinced that we’ll be OK,” Tharaldson Jones said. “It’s one credit.”

Another issue that concerned the board is the students who may not be on the college path, who may already have trouble reaching the school’s current requirements. By adding an additional credit requirement to science, board member Jack Wenzel said he was concerned that the school’s drop-out rate may increase.

“I understand what you’re saying and I had that fear four years ago when we revamped English,” Tharaldson Jones said. “I came to find out that, that was a fear I didn’t need to have because of the innovation systems we have in place; kids can be exposed to rigorous curriculum in a different way. In my opinion we’re aligning it for all kids so that they have the best opportunity for success.”