A full-credit African American studies course and the expansion of Advanced Placement courses to more schools are part of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools’ new high school courses for 2020-21.
The new courses were recently approved by the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education after several weeks of presentations and proposals during the board’s curriculum committee meetings.
Students will now be able to get a full credit instead of a half-credit for the African American studies and Latin American studies elective courses in social studies.
“The goal is to offer that at every single high school, regardless of how many kids sign up for it,” said Lionel Kato, an instructional superintendent for the school system. Students are currently taking the African American studies and Latin American studies courses in six or seven schools.
Next year, American Indian studies will be available for the first time.
“That’s a completely new course,” Kato said. “I think the state has standards, but we actually have to develop a curriculum around it.”
Kato also said there will be a push to make Advanced Placement courses available at more schools.
“We really want to expand the opportunity for students to be able to take those regardless of what school they are in,” Kato said. “That’s something that was pretty big that came out of the curriculum committee.”
He added, “That expansion of AP opportunities at some of our smaller schools will be particularly impactful for students who … might not have wanted to go to the Career Center before so they just missed out on AP courses. Now, they can take it at their home school. At least, that’s the plan.”
New AP offerings will include AP biology at Reynolds High; chemistry-honors at the Career Center; AP United States government and politics at Reynolds; AP Capstone: AP Research at both the Career Center and Atkins High; and AP Capstone: Seminar, also at both the Career Center and Atkins.
AP Capstone is a diploma program from the College Board. It aims to develop students’ skills in such areas as research, analysis and evidence-based arguments rather than teaching subject-specific content, according to the College Board’s website.
Starting next school year, a major change required at the state level for students will affect the Class of 2024 and high school students thereafter: N.C. House Bill 924 was passed by the N.C. General Assembly and signed into law in July requiring all high school students to take an economics and personal finance course to get their diplomas. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools will offer the course through career and technical education as well as social studies.
Additional new courses under career and technical education include computer science principles I and II; cybersecurity essentials at Carver IT Academy; business management II; culinary arts and hospitality I at the Career Center and Kennedy; and culinary arts and hospitality IV — internship at Kennedy.
Other new courses include Discrete Mathematics for Computer Science (honors and standard levels) and North Carolina Math 4 (honors and standard levels); Social Injustice: The Holocaust and Modern Day Genocide, which was tested as a pilot program at Mount Tabor last school year; and Digital Drawing & Illustration at the Career Center.
“It’s exciting for the kids to be able to have all these new and increased opportunities,” Kato said.
“I hope everybody can take advantage of them.”