District 203 considering high school course additions, subtractions    

high school student at desk writing in notebook
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Hard-and-fast enrollment data, coupled with standard curricular reviews and broader trends in the workplace, are prompting a number of modifications to future course catalogs at Naperville North and Naperville Central high schools, based on a preliminary proposal from Naperville School District 203 officials.

At a board of education meeting Monday, April 1, administrators unveiled their proposals for three new course offerings at the high schools. A dozen other courses also could be trimmed from future catalogs.

The recent board meeting served as a platform to introduce the proposals. A binding vote could be cast at the upcoming April 15 meeting.

What could be added, subtracted in high school courses

A new Project Lead the Way-sanctioned course, introduction to engineering, is one of three potential course additions. As proposed, it would be added in the 2025-26 school year.

Based on district documents, the course proposal would give students a glimpse into “the engineering design process, applying math, science and engineering standards to identify and design solutions to a variety of real problems.”

District 203’s high school-level world and classical languages program currently offers two levels of American Sign Language. Based on high interest, plans are in motion to add a third year in the 2024-25 school year and a fourth year in the 2025-26 school year.

The following specialized courses are subject to deletion: web page design, advanced web page design, engineering design studio, tech edge, tech edge +, drafting studio 1, drafting studio 2, senior wellness, traditions in communication, music appreciation: from Bach to rock, honors biology and voices: studies in diversity, equity and inclusion.

What’s driving the proposed changes 

Jayne Willard, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the program changes presented at the recent meeting were the result of extensive conversations that spanned multiple years through a course audit process.

“In some departments, this required minimal adjustments, and in other areas, significant changes are being recommended,” Willard said. “This process is being done in the best interest of students, and is fiscally responsible as we look to offer courses based on student interest, employability and industry demands.”

Declining enrollment was one of the primary factors behind the request to delete the dozen courses. In some instances, course curriculum also was deemed duplicative with other offerings.

Willard said many of these courses are standalone offerings and are not a part of the high schools’ career pathways program that has been emphasized in recent years.

“Standalone courses limit interdisciplinary opportunities, prompting their removal to strengthen academic pathways,” Willard said.

Board gives positive feedback

Based on the preliminary conversations, the board indicated it likely would cast an affirmative vote when the course changes were going to be voted on at the April 15 meeting.

Board member Donna Wandke lauded Willard and other administrators for staying on top of industry trends to help students gain a firm footing, post-graduation.

“I want to note that time and time again, what we hear when our students go off to college is how prepared they are,” Wandke said. “They don’t realize and appreciate where they are at until they end up in college and they realize how much farther ahead they are. I think that’s because of you and your team constantly pushing to meet the needs of our students and readying them for whatever it is they are doing.”

School Board President Kristine Gericke also praised administrators for their recommendations.

“You’re getting the kids ready for their futures — not what we experienced or what we think is the only important thing,” Gericke said. “This is the world they’re going out to, and we’re preparing them for that, and for that, I’m appreciative.”

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