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Elmhurst District 205 adopts engineering, social sciences curriculum changes for York

The Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 Board of Education discusses issues at the Oct. 23 meeting, where members approved curriculum changes in engineering and social sciences for York Community High School.
The Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 Board of Education discusses issues at the Oct. 23 meeting, where members approved curriculum changes in engineering and social sciences for York Community High School.

ELMHURST – Engineering and social sciences course changes are in store starting in fall 2019 at York Community High School in Elmhurst, with the approval of five new courses and one course modification.

The Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 Board of Education unanimously approved the curriculum changes at its Oct. 23 meeting.

Staff worked to develop the changes throughout the spring and fall of this year to develop the changes, according to the meeting agenda packet.

Assistant Superintendent of Innovation and Growth Mark Cohen previously presented the changes at the Oct. 9 board meeting.

Engineering courses

In Project Lead the Way: Introduction to Engineering and Design, students will be introduced to the engineering design process, applying math, science and engineering standards to identify and design solutions to a variety of real problems, according to a course proposal included with the Oct. 9 board packet.

Cohen said the course is "the natural offshoot" of the Project Lead the Way courses that were launched this year at the district's middle schools. The district will add a course of it each year to an additional grade level until there is a year's worth of curriculum for each high school grade level, with electives and a senior capstone that would involve creating an engineering project.

York will add a manufacturing technology course in the 2019-20 school year to take advantage of a recent renovation of manufacturing space at the school, and it will acquire new equipment with the use of funding from grants and donations, Cohen said. He added in a phone interview Oct. 24 that the Elmhurst District 205 Foundation donated $87,000 for the project.

The course will expose students to aspects of the manufacturing industry, such as technical print reading, precision measuring, manual milling and turning, according to a course proposal form included with the Oct. 9 board packet.

It will be an honors-weighted course that is dual credit with the College of DuPage, the form stated.

Also, York will begin offering a business incubator course, which will replace an entrepreneurship course, Cohen said. The course focuses on business principles, and students will design and create a product or service and "pitch" it and receive outside mentorship.​

"It's very much like 'Shark Tank,' " he said.

Social sciences courses

Cohen said with changes to statewide learning standards for social sciences, York has replaced world studies, a long-standing required introductory course for freshmen, with a choice between AP human geography and human geography.

The Illinois State Board of Education adopted amendments in December 2015 that included new learning standards, which are now history, civics, economics and financial literacy, geography and inquiry.

District 205's sixth- through 12th-grade curriculum previously offered history for five of those seven grade levels and did not offer geography courses, Cohen said.

York will begin offering both options as year-long courses at the freshman level.

Goals for students of each class include being able to gather and evaluate information from multiple sources while considering the credibility and authority of the sources, analyzing how human societies plan for and respond to the consequences of catastrophes and how the events impact trade and politics, assessing the validity of texts, and analyzing how thoughts and emotions affect decision-making and responsible behavior, according to the course proposals.

Cohen said AP human geography will be accessible to "almost every student," and staff anticipate about half of the freshman class will opt to take the AP course.

World history will be taught as a semester-long honors course at the sophomore level and involve instruction around certain themes, such as similarities and differences in revolutions, he said.

Cohen added in an email Oct. 24 that there will be no staffing changes with the new courses, and the only cost for the new courses is paying for curriculum development and training, which occurs regularly for all district programs. Students will be selecting courses beginning in November, he said.

Board Vice President Margaret Harrell was absent from the Oct. 23 meeting.

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