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Peace Out, Placement Tests!

"We just asked the question, 'How can we make this better?'"

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Students work hard on their project in Spanish II

Students work hard on their project in Spanish II

Haley Rosmann

Haley Rosmann

Students work hard on their project in Spanish II

Sydney McCord

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Sage Hill students are about to get a lot more freedom when it comes to choosing their courses for the 2018-2019 school year.

In previous years, in order for a student to advance along the academic track of their choosing, Sage Hill required placement tests, prerequisite classes and a specific grade in certain classes in order to be able to take a desired course.

This process left a great deal of students feeling like junior Lia Darmer -– helpless to the fact that their placement tests did not reflect their overall capabilities.

“If I didn’t have to take placement tests last year I would’ve gotten into more of the classes that I wanted to take,” Darmer said. “I felt like the placement tests didn’t really demonstrate my real abilities.”

The administrators and teachers have realized the somewhat flawed aspects of the course placement process and as a result, revisions will be implemented in the 2018-2019 school year.

“We sat down with our department heads in June and looked at the course placement process overall,” Dr. Matt Balossi, Dean of Faculty and Curriculum, said. “We just asked the question, ‘How can we make this better?’”

The changes will include replacing past requirements such as placement tests with “recommended preparation,” meaning that a teacher recommendation is the only requirement for taking a specific course. Additionally, there will no longer be a prior grade requirement for AP and accelerated courses. However, placement tests and auditions will still be used for all math and certain performing arts classes.

“[We realized] that your ability to do chemistry and biology doesn’t necessarily translate into how well you’re going to do physics,” Balossi said. “Ultimately we wanted to give more choice for students and for parents while still guiding them.”

Now that students have many more options than prior in regards to selecting courses, Sage Hill administrators and teachers want students to really focus on the banner value of balance.

“One of the challenges that we’re expecting to face is balance,” Balossi said.  “We are giving more responsibility to students in their course selection with the expectation that they’re going to rise to that banner value of balance and make sure that they are taking a course load that they can handle and that they’re excited about.”

To ensure that students remain as balanced as possible, to be able to take more than three AP and or accelerated classes a student must first get approval from Balossi, a policy that has already been in place for many years.

“I think it will ultimately come down to students and parents making decisions not just based on what they can do, but what they should do,” Balossi said. “With great expectations comes great responsibility.”

As a result in the next school year and in the years beyond, Sage Hill students will have the ability to control more of their high school academic experience, in addition to gaining more responsibility to take courses that are manageable for their unique schedule.

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Peace Out, Placement Tests!