Four years ago, Harford County Public Schools introduced a required, ninth-grade class called Living In A Contemporary World, also known as LICW. The idea behind LICW was to help high school freshmen adjust to high school expectations and plan for the future. But the class was widely seen as an irrelevant time-waster. Now, there’s some good news on two fronts.
Eighth-graders who are creating their high school schedules for the 2010-11 school year, can request a waiver of LICW. For students who do take the course, some planned changes hold promise for a better experience, even if LICW still falls short of recommended improvements.
Some 9th graders have always been exempt from the LICW requirement. Typically, those students were in magnet or other special programs. But last year, freshmen in the general program were also granted waivers when LICW conflicted with their educational plans.
The waiver option was not publicized by HCPS last year, nor is the option noted in the new Student Education Planning Guide for 2010-11. But LICW is not required for a Maryland high school diploma. So HCPS can waive the local requirement when LICW is replaced by a course that better suits an individual student’s educational needs, according to Roger Plunkett, HCPS Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction.
This year, LICW waivers remain an option for all incoming freshmen, subject to approval by their school principal. Waivers that are denied at the school level, can be appealed to Mr. Plunkett at email@example.com
For students who do take LICW, some meaningful changes are planned. To better appreciate those changes, it may be helpful to revisit the original course, as seen through the eyes of teachers, administrators, supervisors, students and parents.
The Harford County Board of Education hired a consulting firm to evaluate a series of high school reforms implemented in the 2006-07 school year, including LICW. The consultants’ 2008 report singled out LICW as “extremely problematic”.
Focus group discussions revealed deep dissatisfaction with LICW among every stakeholder group. Less than one-third of HCPS administrators and supervisors (and even fewer teachers, students and parents), thought that LICW helped 9th graders adjust to high school.
The stakeholders identified several problems:
- The course included content that most students either learned in elementary and middle school, or that students could acquire quickly, such as note taking and study skills.
- Some content, such as income taxes and how to balance a check-book, was more appropriate for high school juniors or seniors, than for high school freshmen.
- The focus on career choices was too soon for most 9th graders.
- Professional development for LICW teachers was insufficient, and teachers from disparate content areas were assigned to teach the course.
- There wasn’t enough “there” there, to justify LICW as a year-long course. The consultants reported that many teachers, students and parents called the class a “waste of time”.
That last point was painful, because LICW fills a slot in freshmen schedules that might be put to better use.
At the time, the consultants suggested the following fixes:
- Ensure the content is the most needed by 9th graders
- Consider cutting the course down from a full year
- Conduct professional development for all LICW teachers
- Allow LICW teachers time to share best practices
- Identify the correct departmental “home” for the course and make it part of that department’s curriculum
The recommendations were made two years ago. Where does LICW stand today?
To find out, I spoke recently with both Roger Plunkett, and George Toepfer, who is the HCPS Supervisor for Social Studies. I’d like to thank them both for their time and for their earnest efforts to improve LICW; although both would acknowledge that LICW has been a work in progress.
Several changes are planned for LICW in 2010-11 that are clear improvements over prior years. Those changes include:
Principals are encouraged to group students according to ability in LICW classes. For schools that employ homogeneous grouping, pacing will improve and instruction can be more closely aligned with students’ needs.
LICW teachers are now more likely to be social studies teachers. Social studies became the departmental home for LICW, so social studies teachers are best suited to teach the course as it has evolved. In years past, less than half of LICW teachers were from social studies – meaning that teachers with expertise in one area, like Spanish or PE, were teaching LICW units, like personal finance. That can still happen, but system-wide, 75% of LICW teachers are now social studies teachers. Another benefit: LICW concepts can be included in the professional development provided to all social studies teachers. Professional development specific to LICW is also offered to non-social studies teachers, but not all teachers have taken it and it cannot be required.
Some curriculum has been changed. An early section that introduced students to the school faculty has been taken out. Sections on students’ rights and responsibilities and strategies for success, have been streamlined. Supports for the High School Assessments have been woven into LICW, which will be helpful for students who struggle with that material.
All of which is good news, representing some progress on the consultants’ recommendations.
On the downside, cutting out some content doesn’t necessarily mean that what remains makes LICW the best use of time for all students. LICW’s focus will now shift to later units on career explorations, economics, geography and leadership. This content was developed with help from supervisors in English, Career & Technology, Health, Business Education and Library/Media, and a special effort was made not to duplicate content already provided in these subjects. But LICW will still include content that stakeholders had said was waste of time.
For example, tax returns, credit card use, resume writing, and salary and benefits comparisons, all of which are more appropriate for older students, are still there. Students benefit from early and repeated exposure to these concepts. But many students never revisit them again in high school. If there is only one shot at this content for all students, it should be closer to the time when it has real meaning.
Also on the downside, the course is still a year long. Under the block schedule, if LICW is cut to semester-length, it must be paired with a yet-to-be developed semester course for freshmen. (Yet another reason to get rid of the block schedule, but I digress). The pending reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation and other potential state mandates have stalled plans to cut the class back to a half-year, for now.
Parents who want a more detailed outline of the updated curriculum for LICW, should ask their schools’ principal to provide them with a copy as soon as it becomes available. I was able to review a copy of the current curriclulm guide.
The document is at least 6-inches thick, so this is by no means a comprehensive review. But here’s a list of the units covered and some supplemental explanations, with the caveat that all may be subject to further changes for next year.
Unit 1: Orientation to High School – Portions of this unit have been eliminated or streamlined for next year.
Unit 2: Strategies for Success – This unit has been streamlined
Unit 3: Stress Management & Decision Making – This unit includes planning one’s time and handling conflict. The section on bullying once required reading a controversial book called The Chocolate War, but that book has since been replaced with Inventing Elliot.
Unit 4: Contemporary Issues & Research Methods – Just like it sounds, this unit includes instruction on research methods, evaluating issues, distortion and propaganda.
Unit 5: Career Explorations (21 – 23 days) – Here’s where you will find the section including the resume, mock interview and job readiness, along with “My Life Plan” and career clusters.
Unit 6: Personal Economics (31 days) – This unit covers money management, credit cards, spending vs. saving decisions, investment securities, and comparisons of salary and benefits packages. (Plenty of adults would benefit from this section.) Previous testing of LICW students in this area showed encouraging improvements when comparing pre- and post- instruction mastery, but in absolute terms, scores went from 40% correct to 50%. Lack of relevance may be part of the reason.
Unit 7 Leadership & Citizenship (20 days) – Includes a study of leadership styles ( NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani is one example), power structures in different types of government, and the civic responsibility to vote.
Unit 8 Living in One’s Own Local Community (9 days) – This unit discusses local issues, such as crime, with some geography included.
Unit 9 Living in One’s Own National Community (12 days) – The unit includes presidential vs. congressional power, some history of national regions, and geography as it relates to national issues, such as pollution, poverty and homelessness.
Unit 10 Living in One’s Own Global Community (16 days) – Includes a map of the continents, theories of war, global organizations (United Nations), along with issues such as globalization, trade agreements and freedom around the world.
HHS Parent says
Finally, thinking in the right direction. This class was a complete waste of time for both of my children. I’m glad my 3rd won’t be subjected to it. I think the Foundations of Techology course requirement should be revisited as well. I have no problem with requiring a technology credit, but don’t think this course is best suited for everyone. Other options should be available for those students headed to college. This course is boring and completely unchallenging for them. Many other more important and challenging technology courses could be offered. Just as Honors and AP courses are available, higher level Tech courses could be as well. I continue to be frustrated with these silly requirements that take away opportunities for students to get the required courses they need to be competative during the college application processs.
FYI, check your facts: The LICW course is not always a year long course. At my child’s school it was a semester course paired with Earth Science the 2nd half of the year.
I am sure that Cindy wasn’t told that this class is being offered in different formats at different schools. One of the main reasons HCPS pushed for “Comprehensive Secondary School Reform” was because they said everyone needed to be on the same schedule. It has been pointed out to them by numerous parents in schools that this isn’t happening. They totally ignore it… LICW is another class they pushed on everyone as “reform.” Two of my kids have had and it is an embarassment to the school system. With all of the talk of need for science and math majors and engineers, this is just a watered down curriculum.
As for Earth Science, who many school systems require that in 9th grade? Not many and especially not the school systems in this state that are beating Harford County and their students for spots in college and for scholarships. Talk to some students who have gone to college and majored in engineering at College Park or somewhere that is very competitive and ask them about their experience versus students in Montgomery County. Curriculum matters…
Russell Kovach says
Sadly, Earth Science is not always offered to all students in High Schools across the nation. Next to Biology and Bio-tech, there is no science that offers so many potential careers as does Earth Science, and yet so often school systems take their brightest and most-motivated students (honors students) and bypass Earth Science for Biology. Disregarding the fact that these students had just had biology a year and half prior (7th grade), it is amazing that in this day and age we would seriously consider not having all of our students take Earth Science. Here is why:
1) Can you turn on the news and not year SOMETHING about climate change or El Nino anymore? Amazing to think how much of a part of modern discuss these topics are… yet some want our best students to skip this study.
2) Just like your body is the only you will ever have, this Earth is the only home you will ever have. I would suggest it is just as important to understand how Earth works as it is your own body. Perhaps if we all had a more concrete understanding of Earth Systems, we could make more intelligent decisions about how to use our limited resources.
3) How many natural disasters do we need to hear about before it becomes more and more clear that we need to understand the dynamics of Earth? Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, storm surge… these are all things that have hit mighty close to home in the past 5 years. Our citizens (who may or may not have a job directly related to science) need to understand how these things work. Again… we cannot make intelligent informed decisions unless we understand both biology and Earth Science.
4) Natural resource utilization is an increasing area of national interest. Be it water, oil, or even things such as fisheries; an understanding as to the dynamics that have both created and impact these systems is a must for future scientists, politicians, and citizens. All of these things are learned in Earth Science.
IF YOU ARE A PARENT OF A HCPS STUDENT, YOU SHOULD BE FIGHTING TO MAKE EARTH SCIENCE (or keep Earth Science) A REQUIREMENT FOR ALL HCPS STUDENTS IN HIGH SCHOOL!!! For so many… this will be the final time they will have higher education exposure to such topics… do not take that opportunity away from them!
The option to take Biology in 9th grade is only available IF you go to SMA. Everyone else has to take Earth Science in 9th grade. Taking Biology in 9th grade is important if your child wants to major in a science or engineering in college. If they take Earth Science in 9th, Bio in 10th, chem in 11th and physics in 12th, there’s no room in their schedule to take an AP science unless they double up their senior year. Or here’s a compromise, let the good science students take Earth Science and Bio in 9th grade and waive LICW. (That’s what SMA does) I don’t disagree that most adults are not science literate. This explains many policy decisions made in that last 20 years. But let’s not hold back our future scientists in order to give Earth science to everyone else. Taking away the Biology option in 9th grade was just one more example of HCPS holding back our brightest kids.
Actually, students DO NOT HAVE to take Earth Science – with approval they can skip it and go right to Biology – my son and daughter both did this – but previous comments about the value of Earth Science are very important…
Porter G says
I disagree with the last two sentences. How is skipping earth science beneficial for those wanting to major in engineering or science? Environmental engineers would need a basis for their study with Earth Science. They design remedial systems based on the environment, afterall. Civil Engineers need a good understanding of geology to site a building foundation or roadway. As far as scientists are concerned, what about…Geologists, Oceanographers, Meteorologists, etc.? Don’t some of our brightest kids enter these fields?
I think one thing everyone commenting here has in common is the belief that there should be OPTIONS available for differentiated instruction. By trying to make everyone do many of the classes in the same grade, etc. we are not making it possible for many students to explore other areas. Additionally, the kids now have to complete a “Career Cluster” which also compounds the problem. No one is really talking to the students about what they need for higher education in certain fields either and at the smaller high schools, the course options are really much more limited.
What about ESci in 9th Bio and Chem in 10th and Physics and AP Bio in 11th and a slew of other choices in 12th.
Kate you can do a career cluster in the sciences. 6 credits of science.
I wish my kids had been offered the option to take Biology in 9th grade. Sadly, I was told at registration that “All students MUST take Earth Science.” Filling in a 4 year plan for the science “Career Cluster” proved equally frustrating when we discoved that our high school didn’t offer enough science courses to satify the requirements. But the real question is “What are Colleges looking for from our High School students who want to go on to science and engineering?” They want a rigorous course load that includes taking and PASSING AP level science classes. No Civil engineer will be designing bridges based on 9th grade Earth Science. Colleges are looking for a solid math background, and will often have students repeat Calculus because Calculus for engineers is much more rigorous than what is taught in high schools. If HCPS is serious about preparing students for careers in science and technology (and I understand they are looking at this) they need to dump their math curriculum for something that actually prepares students for college. They need to offer a Biology elective in 9th grade, not just at SMA. They need to make their science courses rigorous enough so that most students can pass the AP tests. Until they do these things, those of us with bright, science minded kids will continue to put our kids in schools that ARE preparing them for college.
Porter G says
justamom…you’re being short sighted. Kids who would be CEs get their basis in that class for what they’ll be expected to know later.
The fact is, any science class is looked upon favorably by admissions officers. Why you have decided to pursue an attack on Earth Science is beyond me. You can still get your AP classes, if you are a good enough student.
just a mom out of curiousity did your kid apply to the SMA?
I have a question that maybe Russell can answer. Porter G is talking about how important this class is to Engineering. It sounds like some of what he is talking about is in the Environmental Science class not Earth Science but I don’t know for sure.
BTW, my son is majoring in Civil/Environmental Engineering at College Park. Very competitive major and of course the first 2 years are mostly just math and science. The classes that are really difficult are the Calculus and the Physics classes. The teachers are very demanding and the format is quite different from what the kids are used to in high school. My son took AP Calc 1 and 2 (and passed exams) but had to retake at that school, and also AP Physics. He still wasn’t prepared. It would be good to see more emphasis on the Physics curriculum since that is needed for medical occupations also and any science major. Additionally, there are only 3 schools in Maryland that even offer Civil Engineering – two of which are very hard to get into. Those are Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland College Park and Morgan.
Porter G says
Kate…I wasn’t referring to the Environmental Science class…and I wasn’t limiting my discussion to engineering in my first post. I graduated from an engineering school with a degree in a formal science. Admissions into a bachelorate level science or engineering program usually is the result of demonstrated proficiency in all of the sciences (the more well-rounded student, the better) and, of course, high level mathematics, as your son displayed. Exposure to the Earth Sciences is very important for many reasons, IMO. For one, students that excel in math are very black/white in their approach to problem solving. These sciences teach them that not every problem has a well defined solution. It promotes thought outside of the box, yet still within a field of science. I may not see eye to eye with Russell on some political issues, but he is dead on with the importance of Earth Science to future engineers and scientists. The course is available at the honors level. I’d guess that anyone who refers to it as a waste of time is not likely a scientist or an engineer.
Having been a former High School Level Biology teacher in another county I agree with Russell and Porter. The county was one which did not have honors students take Erth Science and I taught in a school with a similar program to SMA. What we always suggested to students who aspired to Engineering fields was to take Geology which was more intensive and neglected the Astronomy and Meteorology prt which those kids had a firm grasp on before High School. But any serious engineering student needs some of the Earth Sciences as well as the Biological and Physical Sciences. One cn easily double up on math and science classes in the current format to achieve that goal what they may have to omit is extra credits of phys ed or student aid to complete their “Easy Credits” I would also think if you went to the principal before their freshman year with a 4 yer plan you could get a waiver from LICW as long as you agreed to stick to the plan. I know some kids who have. One thing they don’t like to see is a kid who asks for a waiver nd has a plan that includes a half day senior year or 4 credits of phys ed!
Not from Here says
My second child is not in public school and took earth science. Many parents don’t want their children to take it, but I thought that it covered many areas that might be of interest to my son. Of all the classes that my children have taken (and child one attended a pretty pricey private school down the road near Baltimore), the earth science course offered the best assignments I have seen to prepare a child for what is needed in college.
If a class meets every day for a semester, it is considered a year long class for 1 credit. Some school do it every day for one semester while others may offer it every other day for the entire year.
either way it is STILL considered a year long class.
Another HHS Mom says
I requested a waiver for LCW last year and was denied. I was told it is a “required take, not a required pass.” When I pointed out kids at the SMA did not have to take it, the principal did not budge. My child wanted to take double math classes – and was told she had to take LCW instead. What a waste of time. It is a one-credit class – it’s just taken every day instead of every-other – like government.
What was your four year plan to replace it? that is the catch if you do not have a four year plan to replace it you must earn the credit which means passing it.
The class is not required by the State so you don’t need it to graduate. There is not another class like this in other counties. I have 2 kids take this class at 2 different schools and it wasn’t even the same class. I know of a parent that had her twins take it at the same school with different teachers and they weren’t doing the same thing either.
Which leads me to the conclusion that it isn’t necessary and isn’t meeting the needs of students. Why should a high performing student who wants to take rigorous academic courses be in this class? They shouldn’t. This was the class that they had to take “The Chocolate War” out of it because it hadn’t gone through the proper curricular channels. Teachers from all different subject matters have taught this class. My one daughter learned about cheetahs and discussed songs lyrics of Jack Johnson and Dave Matthews.
Yes it is not required by MSDE however local bd of eds can add extra requirements to earn a diploma. For example Licwa and an extra math class. Since it is a local requirement it can be waived by the superintendent or his designee and a MD diplom issued but without the wiver you have to have it.
You concluded since it wasn’t required (by MSDE) it doesn’t meet the needs of the kids. They don’t require 4 maths (yet) does that mean it too doesn’t meet the needs of the kids?
I am not going to compare LICW with math. If a student wants to go to college or a vocational school and they need or want another math, they should take it. How many kids living in your household took this class? I had 2 and I can assure you neither one of them felt it had much educational value. In fact, many of the teachers think it is fairly worthless too. If some don’t they certainly can defend it here.
Another thing about LICW and math… would HCPS allow a math class to be taught by a non content area teacher. That has happened for years with LICW.
Yes, 1. She found it useful in some respects. I can see how it might not for everyone but be honest the course catalog is light on freshman courses. I know one student who was granted a waiver but they had to go to the principl with a 4 year plan explain how that course made their plan unworkable and had to stick to their four year plan. Simply saying the course is waste of time is not an option.
Cdev, actually, they do need 4 math requirements to graduate this year, but this class isn’t in the math curriculum. In the books of classes my son brought home it is part of the social studies curriculum. Though a lot of the time it isn’t taught by social studies trachers. My son’s class was taught by a phys ed teacher who had not gone to any training classes to teach it. Those classes were optional, they couldn’t require the teachers to take the training although it was offered.
Sandy MSDE only requires 3 math credits until next years freshman.
Another HHS Mom says
I have a freshman this year, and she is required to take four years of math. Perhaps this is another example of HCPS having different requirements than MSDE.
It is and that is what I was saying from the begining. I do not think we will argue the validity or wisdom of 4 years of math but the county requires year 4, not the state. LICW seems to be where some people think the county foolishly requires more as if that is the only example and it is not!
Dave Volrath: The gift that just keeps on giving.
On Looker says
I took that class and it was a waste of time
Finally, someone has decided that Dave Volrath is not the end all be all of education! I hope this means they are also looking into some of his other goofy ideas that were devisted to promote his career, not HCPS’s learning environment.
Amen Sandy! Most people involved in the system know, unfortunately, that Mr. Volrath has an aversion to the truth; has risen to his level of incompetence (except for his brilliance in devising smoke-and-mirrors powerpoint presentations); and is often self-serving at the expense of the kids. The question is, does Dr. Tomback realize it yet? And if he does, what will he do about it?
I know Mr. Volrath’s job is not easy…. but the students and taxpayers of Harford County deserve so much better…. even if its just someone who does the job in good faith.
Mrs. HCPS Teacher says
I am a long time high school teacher with HCPS. I have been told that I will be teaching LCW next year, at the expense of making my subject classes larger. My subject class is required for graduation and many students struggle with the content, thus the need for smaller class sizes for more individual attention. By assigning me to LCW, two classes of my subject matter are eliminated from the schedule. Despite this, my principal has deemed it “my turn” and in order to “be fair” to the other teachers in my building. The kids themselves know that the credit is not required, thus only the grade conscious students make any effort to do well. Yes, an “E” in LCW makes you ineligible for sports and other extra curricular activities, but what does that matter to students who don’t participate in anything anyway? Many of my students will never experience investing in the stock market in real life. Most of my students need to know how to get along, how to steer clear of conflict, and how much of an impact run-ins with the law can play on their employment futures. Are parts of the course beneficial? Sure. Should the course be one semester? Yes. Should schools which struggle to meet AYP have the option to completely eliminate the course? Yes…… our students deserve better than this…..
Please tell us what subject you are teaching that you have to add kids to your class so you can teach LICW. There is absolutely NO accountability in HCPS for bad decisions. With all of the “reform” being touted, there is no evidence of its success either. There was never anything written into the reform that student achievement was one of the goals.
Mrs. HCPS Teacher says
Reform goes many ways and should come from many sources….1. If a student has not passed middle school, social promotion to high school needs to be changed to at least one year in an alternative setting to see if the student can gain the necessary skills to be successful in high school. Some can, some cannot, but at least let the rest of the population who earned their way to high school continue without disruption. 2. When a student is court ordered to attend school in order to stay out of jail or whatever, make the court order also say the student will pass X number of classes and stay out of trouble while they are there. 3. If you make it to high school and you still don’t know not to fight, not to bring drugs or guns to school, etc, you don’t belong there. Thank you Aegis editorial a couple of weeks ago, you finally got it right on that point. 4. We need to bring back basic job skills classes for a lot of our population. Getting into Harford Tech is becoming increasingly difficult…what happened to wood shop, auto shop, basic working skills? Oh, LCW has replaced a lot of that…With the economy the way it is, many of our students are not college bound and need hands on skills to gain meaningful employment that could potentially lead to a career?
Mrs. HCPS Teacher says
All I can say at the risk of being anonymous is I teach a course which is HSA tested
Not from Here says
My guess? English. No grammar or spelling errors.
Being a high school senior at Patterson Mill high school, I can let you in on a few details.
LICW (@ BAHS)- we created a “Contemporary Cheetah Club,” where we brought in snacks and listened to our ipods. We also analyzed current events and song lyrics. Our teacher admitted that he had no idea what he was doing or was supposed to teach us.
FOT-Built legos with a partner. We used autocad.
Career Clusters-I do not care about orchestra/the arts. Not one bit. I chose “performing arts” as my career cluster because it is an easy A, and convenient to complete my graduation requirement.
I wonder why I chose part time attendance my senior year??? Possibly because I get little out of what HCPS programs have to offer
So when you take remedial college courses and pick up my trash for a living I do not want to hear the school system was a failure when you chose the easy way out!
Porter G says
Exactly what Cdev said.
There are college prep pathways available. Course rigor in high school is a big determining factor in college admissions, and more imortantly, college success.
Not from Here says
Porter G. Have you looked at the career cluster curriculum? I admit that I have not looked at it since two years ago when I decided to get child number two out of HCPS. However, there is not a college prep career cluster. One of the things that astounded me when I looked at the packet was that judges, baliffs, court reporters and lawyers were all in the same cluster. Likewise, engineers and plumbers were in the same cluster (they both work on buildings). The BIG problem with the career clusters is that it appears that educators who know almost nothing about what educational preparation it takes for certain careers are designing the clusters. The truth is that college prep is pretty straight forward: learn to read, learn to write, and learn mathematics.
I would LOVE to see an article about who is teaching these specialized “career” classes for people who want to be engineers or lawyers. And I would enjoy reading the statistics about how seniors have a hard time filling eight classes that are relevant to education in general and how many of them take at least one period to be free office, library, or teacher aid helpers. What kinds of classes are being offered to fill the six cluster classes? This career cluster is a train wreck for our top students. Fortunately, most of us and our kids are average, so HCPS works out great.
Why in the world are you insulting this young lady? What makes you think she had to take remedial courses? The school system has been pushing kids to go to HCC while they are seniors for years. One of the reasons so many kids go to HCC in their senior year is because they don’t have classes to take in their school. Why don’t you find out how many seniors end up being tutors/aides? I know many of them who did it because they had very limited course offerings and that is what the guidance counselors tell them to do. Maybe if you go to CMW or a big school you have many classes or career clusters to pick from. If you look at different schools in the county some schools offer many more classes then others and it isn’t necessarily related to the number of students.
BTW – I think she was trying to make the point that these career clusters are a bit of a farce. Please go back to when they instituted these and see if the student outcomes are in line with the goals. Supposedly it was so kids could graduate and get a job in that area. Please tell me who would hire them with 4 classes of a “specialty.”
Kate I think Right and Porter G got the point of my comments. See part of the problem is a student like this who chose to skate through with easy classes for A’s and did not chose to try something like a career cluster which was more rigorous and in line with there interest and some electives of their choices may have prepared them for college. This kid will likely not go to college or go to HCC and be one of the remediaal kids some pine over as if it was HCPS’s fault when the reality is it is the child and their parents who chose this rediculously easy way out.
Is LICWA for everyone? Probably not but it makes sense for the kid who doesn’t know how to study and is not ready to be successful in HS where they need to be responsible for their own success.
Career clusters are a joke and expecting a kid who hasn’t even graduated high school to know what they want to do for their career is stupid. Many kids (myself included) have no idea what they want to do even after they get into college. In my case, it wasn’t until after I graduated college and was in my mid-20’s that I finally figured out what I wanted to do. They’re better served learning a broad base of knowledge and learning how to think rather than learning to take a standardized test. Those are things that will serve them well regardless of what field they eventually go into.
I also know of several seniors who are taking classes at HCC because they screwed around during their freshman and sophomore years, didn’t pass classes that are required for graduation, and are now trying to fulfill those requirements by taking extra classes there in addition to what they’re taking at their high schools. I don’t know how many of them actually manage to graduate on time by doubling up classes, but I suspect a lot of them don’t.
Thanks so much for your support Cdev.
For everyone who is just itching to know, I take 3 classes at HCC this spring, and 2 in the fall. I have a 4.0 at HCC, and will be graduating from high school with 17 college credits.
I took 3 AP classes in high school, Psych, Lit, and Calc. I take two classes my senior year, orchestra and AP Lit. I am doing well in these classes and am graduating with about a 3.1 GPA. I took 2 math classes my sophomore year, Trig and precalc. I work two jobs aside from my academic load.
I worked my butt off these past four years. Telling me that i am going to be in the custodial positions in my future is not only an insult to ME, but to the custodial staff across the nation.
I wanted to make a point that the classes were basically a waste of my time. I could have taken classes that I might have benefited from. I wanted every parent who thought LICW and etc was beneficial to their children to hear from another perspective.
I am so offended. I do not take classes at HCC because I need them to pass for graduation. I have taken Philosophy, Psych, Ethnic History, Stat, and sociology. Aka classes NOT required for graduation. I do believe you owe me an apology.
I am sorry I assumed; however you should look at your own writing and perhaps forgive the multiple people who jumped to the conclusion you are a slacker. I hope you can see how we have been easily mislead by your post!
Allie, as CDev said what you wrote originally made it sound like you were taking the easiest path to graduation and then complaining that the classes were a waste of time.
In any case, I didn’t say you needed to take classes at HCC in order to graduate on time. I said that I know of several students (including at least one at PMHS) who are having to do that.
I’m not exactly sure how my wording lead you to that conclusion, but I’ll go with it.
Remember we have no clue what you do with your other half day (until now). Add to that your claim you took the career pathway you did because it was easy and you claimed HS was a waste of time. That is how.
I am pretty sure I gave an accurate description of what I was assigned in the classes previously discussed. Then based on my descriptions added that that I (anyone really, but I bet you’re willing to debate that) is better off somewhere else when our time is spent doing such busy work/”I don’t really know what to do with this class so here are some legos and grilled cheese sandwiches” work
You have insulted me, my peers, and custodial staff. I am confused as to why an adult can not give an apology where it is due. You may come back and tell me to reread your first reply, but I’m sure you’re familiar with what is known as a HALF-ASS APOLOGY. 🙂
Allie I did apologize for my part, you seem to be unwilling to accept your culpibility. 2 different people jumped to the same conclusion as I. SO do you think we all had the same comprehension problems or could it be your original post is confusing?
Neither. It’s simply that you each have similar beliefs when it comes to the school system and its students. You assumed what you did because of your beliefs. There is no evidence in my statement that I am a slacking student. The post was perfectly clear.
Allie it was misleading I do not assume all studnets are slckers but did that you are becuse you claimed to be taking the easiest route to graduation!
In your original post, you stated that you and your friends formed a club in class where you brought in snacks and listened to your ipods….both against school rules (blame part of it on the teacher, but the rest of the blame lies with the students)
You also stated that you chose your career cluster because it was convenient and was an easy A…that you did not “care one bit” about it.
As a casual reader, i can see how it would be an easy assumption that you might be a student who is looking for the easiest way out, bot one who is interested in academic rigor.
You get out of your schooling as much as you put into it. It seems that even as a freshman, you had already decided that HCPS high school was a waste of your time and therefore decided not to pursue the benefits that DO exist within all of the schools in Harford County. Instead, you decided to waste time until you could go to HCC…and now you are upset that people think you might not be the greatest student because you didn’t do your best in High School….
Don’t be offended, it’s just how people are going to view your choices so far…placing the blame on HCPS only goes so far, the rest of the blame lies with you.
I’ll add some detail.
We created the “Contemporary Cheetah Club” so we could create resumes to have different “jobs” in the club: waitress, entertainment, managers, chefs, treasury, etc. I created a resume, had an “interview” with my teacher, and then we played our Club just about every day we had the class. I was a waitress, and delivered food to the “customers.”It was not after school, it happened during class time. Apparently my writing was unclear again. How could this be the student’s fault/creation? And if it was, wouldn’t the fault lie in the teacher, for letting it continue?
I put a lot of effort into my school work. It was never and should have never been up for debate what I have chosen to do my senior year in high school. The article is about LICW, I stated my facts about what was done in the class, disappointed that they have been disregarded.
I am sorry that all of you would rather play the judgment and pointing fingers game than look at the real issue – LICW.
“What we have here is a failure to communicate”
Just a Parent says
I don’t know Allie but I know many kids who have the same situation as she does. My kids both had to be tutors in 12th grade because they couldn’t take classes they wanted. They wanted to take certain classes but they weren’t offered or they conflicted with something else. When the 8 period schedule was implemented, it was supposed to improve student achievement and it hasn’t. I am starting to believe the school system did it so they could get other students in the school to tutor for FREE.
Also looking at what Allie was trying to do … nursing. What could she have taken to help her in college. If she already took AP Psychology at Patterson Mill, the only way she could take Sociology is if she took it as a semester class with Psychology (repeat class at a lower level). There is no Microbiology and the Human Growth and Development course isn’t the equivalent of a college class. Furthermore, if she would have taken AP classes, she would have had to repeat them anyway because if she applied to a nursing program – they look at the grade in the class and a passing score on AP doesn’t cut it. Luckily for her, she was able to attend HCC. There are many students in the county who don’t have cars and don’t have the finances to attend either. Also, there isn’t equal access at all schools in the county or equality in overall educational experience. Still trying to figure out with all of the technology in the schools why they can’t use it to offer classes to the students in the building…
True Patterson Mill has way more computers then any other school!
Thanks so much for your support 🙂 I am so grateful that I am able to attend HCC and that you understand my situation.
Patterson Mill has computers but many of them aren’t operational. Since the school opened, the FOT computers have been sitting around dormant. The school system put the order in wrong for the contractors. Kids in that class for the past 3 years haven’t been able to fulfill the course requirements, but I guess that is another class the school system doesn’t really seem to care about since it isn’t a tested area … kind of like LICW.
Patterson Mill has at least 16 lap top carts My wife counted at an inservice there in the halls. Most schools have 2 That is more then it’s complement of computers.
Didn’t to Board of Ed. give more money to PM to fix the FOT lab? Something about how it wasn’t built to meet the state spec.
Yes they just approved a Change Order to fix the lab but that means they have to take money from something else to do it! One thing you have to look for in construction projects is how many change orders there were. Between Patterson Mill, Bel Air, and the schools in Edgewood how much money will end up being wasted on bad construction and/or design issues approved by HCPS.
That doesn’t include North Harford (not familiar with all of the issues there but there were many), and the fact that they put in a new track at Harford Tech 2 years ago and had to rip it up the next year because it wasn’t put in right either. No wonder the school system keeps saying they need more taxpayer dollars.
Sounds more like you went part time your senior year because you’re lazy and wanted to graduate while doing as little “work” as possible.
Now, I went to high school in a different and more than a decade ago so graduation requirements were a little different, but had I wanted I could’ve coasted through high school taking only 3 science classes (nothing beyond chem), 2 math classes (nothing beyond very very basic algebra), 4 English classes (spending 4 years doing 6th grade level vocab and grammar worksheets), and 3 social studies classes (with a large portion of my time spent coloring maps with crayons.) Instead I took every AP and honors class offered, 5 science classes, 5 math classes (up through AP calculus and finite math), 4 years of social studies classes (including AP US history), and 4 years of AP English (the AP program was designed to cover virtually every book on the AP exam over your entire high school career.) I took the AP test for every AP class I took and got 4’s or 5’s on all of them. I also worked 15-20 hrs/week and was very involved in the band.
I’m not saying all that to puff myself up, but my point is you get out of high school what you put into it. If your goal is to barely graduate with absolutely no skills or knowledge, maybe go to HCC (and struggle to pass your classes), and spend your life working a dead end job then I’d say you off to a good start.
While I agree LICW is a bs class, that’s not an excuse to do nothing for years of high school, which is what it sounds like you did.
Not from Here says
One of the advantages of Allie choosing the fine arts cluster is that the teachers at least have degrees in music or something that is relevant to the cluster classes.
You guys need to lay off this young poster. She was trying to make a point. What you don’t seem to get is that she has been bored into taking the easy route. What I got from her post was further validation that getting my child out of Patterson Mill and HCPS was a brilliant move.
You might also want to know that about fifty percent of Harford County college bound students start at HCC. About fifty percent of college bound students, nationwide, have to take at least one remedial class.
Thank you. I am interested in Nursing and there isn’t really a career cluster directed towards the medical field. Orchestra happened to be something I tolerated and fitted my interests more than Business, child education, etc.
Though choosing to take orchestra over AP chem is my decision and isn’t really up for debate and criticism. (for everyone who is about to tell me I am of no worth)
Is not the science cluster appropriate?
Patterson Mill has a reduced science program because we are the first class going through. Only the basics were offered (earth science, physics, environmental science, chemistry, biology) I took earth science in 9th grade, bio in 10th, chem in 11th.
I figure that a university would make me take biology and chemistry again despite any AP/career cluster credit. Orchestra is something I have participated in since 4th grade, would have been a disappointed to my peers and teacher to quit my senior year.
I’m pretty sure you did say all that to puff yourself up. What does every extra curricular you participated in 10+ years ago have to do with anything? I have done everything you have done AND MORE (considering the boost in grad requirements).
Though we were different in a sense that I have other things that are important to me, like friends and a social life.
First of all, i think many of these comments deviated from the actual subject matter of the article in the first place. This issue wasn’t about Allie’s academic career and course rigor? I mean I could reread but I remember the issue being LICW.
Second, I whole-heartedly believe LICW to be a waste of time. For the classes where the teachers actually care enough to follow the curriculum, you still have the issue of the fact that the students are freshmen. They’re barely pubescent — why should any of them care about the “the real world” quite yet?
Third, you are all adults I presume? There are no excuses as to why anybody should be personally attacking this girl. She’s a senior in high school. Part-time attendance is the BEST decision she could have made because instead of taking 8 periods of meaningless classes. She substituted meaningless high school classes with 101 basic college credits. Which means she will have an advantage over all of the freshmen enrolled NEXT year because she’ll already have a semester’s worth of credits. Also, did anybody miss the part where she worked? This girl clearly has a higher maturity level than 95% of graduating seniors because she is able to handle high school, college, AND a busy work schedule. How dare any of you judge her or personally attack her. This makes me sick.
Not from Here says
It might also be noted that if you cross check the AP scores for nearly all of Paterson Mill’s classes, taking AP classes there is almost certainly a waste of everyone’s time.
That’s very true. Very few students there get a passing score on the AP tests and many colleges don’t give credit for the classes anyway. Which I think is a strong argument FOR taking HCC classes in lieu of an AP-packed schedule because most of those credits ARE transferable. Just a thought.
Not from Here says
Most colleges do give AP credit IF you score fours and fives. A few colleges use them for placement only. But the scores coming out of PM in general are not earning credit. State schools are particularly generous with AP credit for those who show competency through testing.
Bob D. says
Patterson Mill’s problem is that they have no screening process for AP. If a kid wants it, the kid gets it. Teachers give recommendations but they can be, and largely are, ignored by parent and student alike. YES….a student with a D average in 9th grade government can take AP European History in 10th grade. A “career” D student in the sciences can take AP Environmental Science. It is the same, no matter the department. My neighbor teaches at PM, so my source is solid.
If they would fix this flaw, and fill AP courses with AP students, an AP course would actually mean something there.
Not from Here says
^^This is true all over Harford County. Anyone can take AP classes, and that is part of the problem.
Isn’t that because everyone’s child is Talented and Gifted?
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I took AP Calc my junior year. I didn’t feel like I would do well on the AP exam, so I didn’t take the test. When I got over to HCC, they let me right into Stat 216 even though I had no AP credit. All they knew was that my final grade was a C.
Not from Here says
Keep in mind, though, statistics does not follow calc. You would be eligible to take statistics by either passing the placement test or your AP scores. You would have had to start at calc 1 in the math seeries had you chosen that direction. The real pity is that you did not feel as though your AP calc class prepared you for the test–what a waste of your time and energy to sit through the class all year.
Not from Here says
Oops. SAT scores not AP scores for placement.
Oh I understand that now, I just thought it was interesting that I didn’t have to take a test or anything. Anyways…
Kids at PMill now that take precalc, trig, etc now have the option in taking Stat or Foundations of college math. When I was a sophomore entering junior year, my only option was ap calc (the other courses weren’t offered yet)
To be fair, my whole heart and soul was not dedicated to calc, and I really wish it could have been (I love math). I was having a really hard time with chemistry and it sucked up a lot of my time staying after school, studying, etc.
The Pmill calc teacher, Mr. Paquin, was absolutely amazing. I passed Calc as a 15-16 year old and that’s not something a lot of people get to say 🙂
Bob D. says
Not From Here – That is sad, isn’t it? I can remember A LONG time ago, I had to apply for AP Biology. I was declined because my “B” in Earth Science was deemed CP (college-prep) appropriate, NOT AP. I was not given an appeal, nor were my parents. That was the way that it was and I had to accept it.
Not having standards dilutes the AP field and makes a mockery of courses that meant something at one time.
Cdev – I think every parent functions under the false illusion that their children are gifted. Some parents these days cannot grasp the reality that some kids are average.
Not from Here says
In my very limited experience with private schools (two kids, two different schools), students have to be recommended for AP classes. Of course, you can appeal, but the result isn’t always what you want. Private schools often use their AP scores as a selling point of the school. For example, when we looked at my daughter’s private school, we were told that the year before 100% of the kids who took the AP calc test scored fives. Now, perhaps only six kids took the test, but they were well prepared. The AP breakdown appears on the profile of the school–just try to find a profile for a HCPS.
Lots of people talk about how test scores aren’t important, but test scores indicate a higher level of performance and they are standardized. A kid in East-Dzesus, North Dakota, takes the same test on the same day as the Harford County kids. The scores validate the GPA–or show that it is inflated.
And Cdev, most of us think our kids are smart because we don’t remember how we learned things. I am the first to admit that at least one of my kids is way more intelligent than I. However, a HUGE diservice is done to those who are profoundly gifted and are almost universally ignored by HCPS. Believe me, if you meet one of the those profoundly gifted kids, you could tell the difference.
I agree that the profoundly gifted are sold short but watch when the program comes lots of people will claim to have profoundly gifted children that just do not and will serve to water down the program!
Not from Here says
I can tell you that I am not going to worry about it because my profoundly gifted child is happily attending college. Testing does identify the truly gifted, and I am not holding my breath counting on HCPS to do the right thing.
and unfortunately what ends up happening, Not From Here, is that because the standards are so low for the class (students and teachers alike) the kids who actually belong in the class and are more than capable of doing the required coursework have to settle. At the end of this year I will have taken 7 AP courses at Patterson Mill so yes, I have some sort of idea of what I’m talking about. Of course there are some teachers who have been awesome and have prepared me tremendously for the college classes I now take, however those are often the exceptions and I feel that I could have probably got more out of high school with a stronger AP program. After speaking to other students around the county and even in other states I can say we probably aren’t where we need to be academics wise.
Bob D. says
It would seem to me, and I could be wrong, that if there are no standards for AP admission then the teacher would have to water down content to avoid a number of failures. It is sad, really. AP should be for those who can handle accelerated work, not a symbol of some type of status.
What education needs is honesty. If a student should not be in AP, based upon class performance and teacher recommendation, then they should not be allowed to pursue an AP class. Of course, if they buckle down and change, then they can change that status. But using AP as a normal course defeats the purpose and leads to the watering down our educational system even more than it already is.
Not from Here says
Bob, Bob, Bob, you are not familiar with the way it is in HCPS. You are right, of course, that the courses are watered down. The AP score reports for all of HCPS are listed on this site if you search advanced placement. Science and foreign language scores are awful, and they don’t publish anything when a school offers a course, but no one takes the test (like Bel Air’s AP Music Theory). I am guessing you know what zeroes do to averages, so it is not hard to figure out why they are not included.
The funny thing is that you have to test at Bel Air High School to get into the freshman honors classes, which are not weighted, but anyone can take AP, which are weighted. It probably has something to do with denying a child the opportunity to inflate his or her GPA.