Students attending Gainesville Middle School, Gainesville High School Ninth Grade Center and Gainesville High School in the fall have a different process of selecting their elective courses this year.
That process involved student and parent meetings with Gainesville City Schools’ staff members, a step which officials deemed positive.
Chief Academic Officer Sarah Bell said the goal of the new process is to maximize student success by ensuring students are in the courses that will prepare them best for college and career.
“We wanted to ensure that parents and students understood not only the courses for which they wanted to register for next year, but also the implications those choices might have for the future,” Bell said. “For instance, students who take courses for high school credit at the middle school level should be prepared to take Advanced Placement or dual-enrollment courses during their junior and senior years of high school.”
Bell said the school system has always involved parents and families in the course selection process, but this year school officials chose to do so in a more hands-on and individual way.
The course selection meetings allowed students and their families to meet individually with a staff member and look at the student’s plan of study. Bell said most families were pleased with this opportunity.
“We heard from parents and students that they felt that they were making more informed choices,” she said. “Of course, with any new initiative, there are always opportunities for improvement, so in the future, we plan to continue the things that worked well and make adjustments to those processes that could be improved.”
The state of Georgia requires 23 units of credit for a student to graduate from high school. Some of those credits are required and some are elective.
At the middle school level, students can take a select number of courses for high school credit. In the fall, these courses will include personal fitness and health, visual arts, Spanish and French levels one and two, algebra, physical science and ninth grade literature.
At the high school level, students also have the opportunity to follow a pathway, or a select number of courses aligned based on student interest and career goals. Such pathways include video technology and film, business and technology, culinary arts, early childhood care and education, health science, and journalism, to name a few.
While course selection is complicated and imperfect, a student’s chosen pathway will be respected, considered and prioritized when assigning elective courses for next year.
The important thing for students and their families to take away from this updated course selection process is the importance of working toward graduation, according to Bell.
“We are hopeful that above all, our students and families now understand more about all of the courses that will help them cross the stage at high school graduation,” she said.