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UPDATED Feb. 1: African-American history, animation, architecture, ceramics, design engineering, digital photography, ethnic studies, history of music in film, filmmaking, marketing, metalsmithing/jewelry-making and playwriting. 

This is not your grandfather’s or father’s high school, or yours -- unless you will be an Arlington High School student next September.

The School Committee voted unanimously Jan. 26 to approve these new classes and other changes in course offerings. 

60 schools in U.S. offer AP course

More than two dozen new courses are to be offered; a handful of others are being reactivated or dropped. Some of the changes involve breaking a former yearlong course into two semester-length courses.

Of note, AHS is to be one of only 60 public high schools nationwide to teach the new advanced-placement African-American history course, Principal Matthew Janger said. 

Because that class at AHS, as elsewhere, is being offered on a pilot basis, students next school year will not be able to take an AP test at the end to attempt to gain college credit for it. However, they will still get high-school credit.

Janger called the AP class an “exciting opportunity” but acknowledged that there has been some controversy about it nationally.  

Some political conservatives have stated opposition to it.

Changes in fine arts excites Morgan

"I am excited about the changes in fine arts,” said committee member Jane Morgan, who said the improvements were “amazing” and that the still-being-rebuilt school was an “incredible space” with “incredible people.”

A notable change for 2023-2024 is the elimination of the yearlong prerequisite general foundational course in arts. The intention is to allow students to access areas of interest more quickly, especially if they intend careers in the creative economy.

Although it is not in the formal program of studies, the informal policy now at AHS is that students make their own decisions on whether to take honors courses. Teachers and counselors are available to provide data on predictions of success. For example, if a student is excelling at the regular “A”-level classes, attends class regularly and has no history of school anxiety, that person is likely to do well at the honors level.

Committee member Paul Schlichtman said he liked the phrase being used for this approach -- “challenge by choice” -- saying, “I appreciate that wording.”

Superintendent Elizabeth C. Homan also was enthusiastic about the overall changes. Just before the vote, she called them “very aligned with the [district five-year] strategic plan” that is in the process of being finalized in the next few months.

Watch the Jan. 26 meeting on ACMi:

Read the documents related to this agenda item >>


This news summary by YourArlington assistant editor and education reporter Judith Pfeffer was published Sunday, Jan 29, 2023, and updated Feb. 1, 2023,with two links providing context about the new Advanced Placement African American History course.. 

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