Newton schools are changing the names of high school course levels to better reflect class expectations, and to be more in line with the names at other area high schools, according to a letter last week to parents from the principals of Newton North and Newton South.
Starting next fall, Curriculum II courses will be renamed College Prep, and Curriculum I will be renamed Advanced College Prep. Honors and Advanced Placement level titles will not be changed, the letter said.
Superintendent David Fleishman said Monday that the name changes do not reflect a change in course curriculum, but instead address a move by the NCAA last year that excluded students who took some Curriculum II classes from playing on athletic teams their freshman year.
The NCAA, the governing body of college athletics, made the move as part of its effort to ensure that incoming athletes are academically prepared for college, despite the fact that students who took the lower-level classes in Newton passed state standardized tests, and that many who have taken Curriculum 2 classes in the past did well in college.
Fleishman said the name change better reflects the fact that students who take these courses are being prepared for college.
Copresidents of the parent, teacher, student organizations at both high schools said early last week that the issue was not causing much discussion among parents.
“I think this makes the levels more understandable to the people outside of Newton, and makes things more comparable to what they do at other places,” said Sally Brickell, copresident of the Newton North High School PTSO.
The letter says the changes were made after conversations with the faculties at both high schools.
According to the letter from principal Joel Stembridge at Newton South, and principal Jennifer Price at Newton North, the change “stems from the fact that our Curriculum II classes represent the foundation of our college preparatory program, and that our other levels advance from this point.”
The principals also wrote that they, and the teachers at the two schools, believe strongly that the students in the schools’ lower-level courses are “held to high expectations and receive rigorous instruction in a way that best meets their educational needs. We’ve designed these classes to prepare students to do well after high school — and indeed our graduates return to tell us we’ve succeeded.”Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at eishkanian@ gmail.com.