OPINION: SCHS should offer more intermediate courses so students can succeed

According to the 2019-2020 District Course Catalog, there is a grand total of eight honors courses offered at Santa Clara High School across every subject, a majority of them simply being intended as prerequisite courses for underclassmen. Comparatively, the amount of Advanced Placement and regular  courses offered is much higher.

With this being the case, how is it that a mid-level student is supposed to thrive if they lack options? The answer is they cannot.

Many people believe that while AP classes are meant to be challenging courses taught at a introductory college level, regular classes are ones suited more toward the typical high school student. With that said, neither type of course is inherently better than the other, but they are directed toward different types of individuals.

There is, however, a good number of students who exist in the area of wanting rigor while also maintaining enough time outside of academics for relaxation. Of course, this is a difficult goal to achieve considering the discrepancy between regular and AP classes, meaning that some people are left with the tough decision of either learning beneath their capabilities or committing themselves to a course that they cannot handle.

As it stands, even if a student were to enter high school with the notion that they would strictly be taking, say, honors science courses, they would only have two years’ worth of options: Human Physiology Honors and Chemistry Honors. With the UC system recommending at least three years of science, it would be more or less impossible for such a student to accomplish their objective while also remaining competitive, let alone meeting their high school requirements.

It is not unfair to argue that SCHS should simply adjust the curriculum of its regular and AP courses to “bridge the gap,” making it so that neither type of course is too unchallenging nor too demanding. Yet such a solution would undoubtedly undercut the needs of the student population by ignoring those who cannot keep pace with advanced material and those who require a rigorous environment. One probable solution is to introduce more mid-level classes.

Though there is admittedly a general lack of these classes across all of SCUSD, both Wilcox High School and MECHS offer honors courses that SCHS does not, two examples being British Literature Honors and English 11 Honors, respectively. Due to this, the implementation of more honors courses at SCHS does not seem too irrational and even within reach.

Of course, logistics may be an issue, something that can be difficult for the school to keep up with when balancing the schedules of 2,000 students. Further, the demands of SCHS’s many educators would have to be taken into account as well.

As such, another potential fix to the issue would be to improve how the school identifies and differentiates individual learning needs so that even in a single course or class, there would be a larger variety of difficulties that are able to suit each student. A regular history class, for example, could be designed to be more rigorous than another regular history class, and students would intentionally be placed into either one with respect to their own specifications.

This system, subsequently, would allow for more choices in class decisions while also maintaining as similar of a system as possible to that currently exists. Additionally, it would not directly require the addition of more courses at SCHS, nor the corresponding teachers willing to teach them.

Especially given the valuable flexibility that the addition of such changes would add to course selection, SCHS should push for such changes because a student cannot hope to succeed if they cannot create a proper schedule that fits their academic needs and their learning style.