Aligning the curricula at Saratoga and Los Gatos would create more trouble than it saves

January 11, 2021 — by Avani Kongetira
Photo by Los Gatos - Saratoga Union High School District

 The School Board and staff members examine the differences in course offerings at Los Gatos and Saratoga High School.

 

Since late October, the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District has been considering an inquiry into the curricula and course offerings at Saratoga and Los Gatos High School. Although these discussions are in the very early stages, the school board is generally interested in aligning the two schools where it makes sense.

Rather than changing the curricula to offer the same classes at both schools, the district has been examining the reasons for differences in course offerings and say they may adapt the curricula from there during a years-long process.

Los Gatos offers more courses overall and far more AP and honors classes than Saratoga. 

 One major problem is that Saratoga is a much smaller school, with only about 1,280 students, compared to Los Gatos’ 2,100 students. Size alone gives Los Gatos the ability to offer more courses to its student body.

If the school were to align its curriculum with Los Gatos’, that could mean new electives and more opportunities to take AP and honors classes. 

But Saratoga really does not need any more AP classes. Even though Los Gatos has more students and offers more APs, the average Saratoga student already takes six AP classes, while the average Los Gatos student takes five.

Department offerings are also different at the two campuses. For instance, freshmen and sophomores at Los Gatos can take honors classes while underclassmen at SHS are in mixed-level classes for their first two years. Likewise, Los Gatos offers AP Language/Composition to juniors and AP Literature to seniors, while at SHS, both AP classes are offered only during senior year and an honors class is offered for junior year. Some want Saratoga to follow the Los Gatos path.

But the academic pressure is already high enough at Saratoga, especially as many students are already involved in extracurricular activities. Adding more vigorous classes to the mix would add unnecessary pressure to students, who no doubt would feel pressure to max out on AP and honors classes.

Be it for the GPA boost or the self-satisfaction that comes with taking harder classes, students will go crazy for APs at the cost of their sleep, relaxation time and overall mental health.

On top of this, the possible addition of electives that Los Gatos has, such as graphic design and woodworking, would come at the expense of current SHS electives. The student population dispersing into new classes could push out existing electives because of low participation. AP Studio Art, for example, was cut this year due to the rising popularity of other classes, such as AP Art History and Intro to Business.

The curriculum alignment could also mean students could get the chance to take courses offered at their sister school, meaning students and staff may have to cross over to the other campus for a class. This is more trouble than a few new courses’ worth, and students may feel more reluctant to take a class on another campus, which defeats the purpose of more offerings.

Aligning the curriculum would create extra pressure and logistical trouble for both students and staff. Whether it’s stress from a heavy course load, losing existing classes or constantly travelling between schools, it is just not worth it.

Studying the differences in curricula and making inquiries as to why they are inconsistent does make sense, but the board itself should not make these decisions for the schools, as its main function is to ensure students a good education and keep schools running.

In the end, it should be up to the teachers and administrators at each school to decide whether or not it wants to make changes to its curriculum.

 

169 views this week

Add new comment

CAPTCHA
Prove that you're human: