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Dr. Heather Donaldson and Sharon Powell participated in Dr. Ed Nichol’s recent podcast for “Sittin’ With The Supe.” They focused on new courses, electives for secondary schools and career-ready options. The photo shows the Curriculum Fair at Bob Jones High School in 2012. CONTRIBUTED

Students, parents decide on class schedules for 2023-2024

MADISON – In Madison City Schools, students are experiencing an exciting time as they define their schedules for the upcoming school year.

Students benefit from a good balance between required courses and electives. MCS Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols said in his “Sittin’ With the Supe” podcast that the district has “a vast number of opportunities for students . . . as they move through their academic journey.”

From numerous elective courses to career tech studies and educational pathways, each student can rely on support from school staff for a perfect fit. Students moving to a different school can meet teachers on that campus.

“While choice is a fantastic thing, the plethora of options our school district provides can sometimes feel overwhelming to students and parents,” Nichols said. “We want to help!”

In this podcast, Dr. Heather Donaldson, MCS Chief Academic Officer, and Sharon Powell, MCS Secondary Instruction Coordinator, advised Nelson on curriculum updates.

“Every year, we seek input from teachers, students and administrators to know what classes they what. And if any courses should be removed,” Donaldson said.

In fall, Powell gathers this input for a viable curriculum with innovative programs. They present their findings to Madison Board of Education around February for approval. Schools then distribute packets with registration forms and courses. Curriculum fairs inform student families.

The State of Alabama has added a requirement for College and Career Readiness for graduation. The change affects rising eighth-graders this year. To earn this credit, nine options are available, Powell said.

Among the options is benchmarking of ACT (in one area – English – 18, reading – 22, math – 22 or science – 23). Another way is dual enrollment credit by passing a college course with Calhoun Community College, J. F. Drake State Community and Technical College, University of Alabama in Huntsville, along with UA and Auburn University.

Students can earn a silver certificate, a work-based test used by industries for entrance credentials to work. Students must earn ‘4’ on applied math, graphic literacy and workplace documents. Another choice is to complete three classes in a career academy and earn ‘C’ or higher. Enlisting in the military is another option.

In high school, courses are classified as Advanced Placement, honor and grade level. “If you’re thinking about going to a four-year university, at minimum take an honors course but an AP course is preferable for the rigor for facing a college class,” Powell said.

Grades 6-8 have accelerated math and honors English, along with advanced history in eighth grade.

“It’s important to learn early what you don’t like . . . as it is for what you do like,” Powell said.

Next year, MCS will offer 34 AP courses. New courses are personal finance; counseling and mental health (as a career); and AP pre-calculus, Donaldson said.

In addition, students can earn a CDL or Commercial Driver’s License partnership at Calhoun. Completing the ‘heavy equipment’ class also will earn the work-based credential. “It’s an exciting way for a student . . . to be ready to go into the work force,” Donaldson said.

In middle school, 54 elective courses are available, such as fine arts including band, chorus, art, drama and technical theatre; Greenpower; Project Lead the Way; foreign languages; and 17 career tech courses.

If parents are overwhelmed with the procedures, Powell said “slow down and breathe. Counselors are always available and can guide you in the right direction.”

“Ask questions,” Donaldson said. “Don’t hesitate to ask counselors, administrators or teachers. Mrs. Powell and I can help.”

For questions, email Spowell@madisoncity.k12.al.us, hdonaldson@madisoncity.k12.al.us or ed.nichols@madisoncity.k12.al.us.


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