Eleven people in virtual meeting

WCCUSD Considers Upcoming Class Schedules, UC Eligibility

Eleven people in virtual meeting

Richmond High was called a pioneer in ethnic studies curriculum at the West Contra Costa Board of Education meeting Tuesday. (Screenshot captured by Julia Métraux / Richmond Pulse)

By Julia Métraux

With course selections for high schoolers coming up in February, West Contra Costa Unified School District staff and site leadership are looking into how they can balance making sure students meet entrance requirements for University of California schools and offering courses students want to take.

WCCUSD secondary executive director Summer Sigler and director of college and career Allison Hue gave a presentation to the West Contra Costa Board of Education of their schedule for planning classes at the Dec. 7 meeting. In January, they plan to start recruiting students for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs. AP and IB classes, depending on the university and how well a student does, can help students gain college credit before they even step foot on campus.

“We’ll be taking a deep look at how are we really recruiting all students into advanced courses,” Sigler said, “making sure that our advanced courses are as representative of our entire student body as possible.”

To apply directly to UC schools, students have to take a series of courses that meet subject, or A-G, requirements. California will soon also have an ethnic studies requirement for high school, and the class of 2030 will have to take at least one semester on this interdisciplinary field of race, ethnicity and history.

“We make sure that any courses that are added are properly vetted and submitted for UC approval,” Hue said. “This process ensures that we have courses that are taught by an accredited teacher.”

A-G requirements hold increasing importance as the University of California system has gotten rid of exam requirements. Previously, students’ SAT or ACT scores could compensate for lower GPA and other requirements. Caitlin Flanagan reported in the Atlantic in 2021 that of students benefiting from exam requirements bridging the gap from low GPAs, “almost half of those students were low-income, and more than a quarter were Black, Latino, or Native American.”

>>>Read: Richmond Teacher Is ‘Very Happy’ UCs Dropped the SAT, ACT

Even though students start to sign up for classes in February, enrollment at different schools can affect which classes end up actually being offered.

“Between now and May, school site teams are meeting me with the alignment team, which includes various individuals from both curriculum and instruction as well as special programs throughout the district leadership, to finalize that list of courses that they’ll plan to offer next year,” Hue said.

Administration and counselors, according to the current plan, will work to finalize schedules in May and June for the following school year.

Clerk Demetrio Gonzalez-Hoy asked Sigler how ethnic studies currently fit into the WCCUSD curriculum. Sigler said ethnic studies are currently being worked into some history classes, and the names of classes have been updated to reflect the inclusion of ethnic studies.

“Richmond High School actually has been a pioneer in this, and the courses have gone really well there and been well received by the students,” she said.

In their presentation, Sigler and Hue said they are focusing on a seat-based model. Trustee Leslie Reckler asked them to “describe what the seat base model is versus what had been done before.”

Sigler said there has been an emphasis on planning to offer classes that more students would want and need to take, rather than offer a plethora of classes that may have low enrollment.

“We do want to meet their need, but we’re going to run programs that we can fill,” Sigler said.

The next regular Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Dec. 14.

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