Quincy School District eyes changes to social studies, science curricula

A slide shows how science courses may change at Quincy High School under a new plan for curriculum and sequence and how the courses may fit with academic pathways.

A Quincy School District curriculum adoption team is working on a recommendation to change not only the science instructional material for grades 9 through 12 but the order in which most students will take science courses.

Physics would be offered as a 12th-grade course, if the idea proceeds to a recommendation for the Quincy School Board to vote on.

A review of the curriculum for science and social studies for kindergarten through 12th grade was the main topic of the Nov. 22 meeting of the board. Alicen Gaytley, QSD’s director of student achievement, presented the report via a remote link.

Gaytley said the curriculum study team was in the third of four phases in the process for assessing and adopting changes.  

Work in the social studies area began last fall, she said.

“We have decided that we do need new material,” she said, adding the current social studies materials don’t match the standards, which changed in 2019.

The team is reviewing and selecting instructional materials now.

“Our hope is that we will have that approved and be able to implement next year,” she said.

For science, the study process began in spring 2022. Gaytley said grades 9 through 12 will need new resources for science, but the team was not sure about the lower grades’ needs yet.

Early in the process, the district team collected data on the wishes of students and families. Feedback from students who go on to college was they are not prepared for university chemistry classes, she said.

The district team has linked the preparation level to the sequence of science courses at Quincy High School. In the conceptual plan for changes outlined by Gaytley, the physics taught at the freshman level would be replaced by a physical science course; biology would taken usually at the sophomore level; chemistry, which is currently a sophomore class at QHS, would become an 11th-grade class, and physics would be most often taken in the 12th grade.

The changes in sequence would mean students would have more math under their belts before proceeding to more advanced science material.

The next update for the board on the curriculum adoption process will be in February, Gaytley said, adding she expects to have recommendations for the board in May or June 2023.

Board member Chad Lower had a question about the change in 2019 to the social studies curriculum standards. The state required tribal history to be included, Gaytley said.

Board member Tricia Lubach asked whether Gaytley anticipated a new curriculum would be needed for the proposed 12th-grade physics class.

“Because I think you are right that kids have gone into college and not at all been prepared for a lot of science classes that they are facing,” Lubach said.

Gaytley said yes.

Superintendent Dr. Nik Bergman added that the curriculum team’s work focused on student voice and family interview data.

“It takes a lot of time up front, so I really appreciate (Gaytley) and the work you and Camille (Jones) are doing,” Bergman said.

Another topic presented during the board meeting was career and technical education, or CTE. The board report was submitted in written form, and no discussion followed. The report went with an item in the board’s consent agenda concerning the Perkins Grant application for the current school year to receive federal funding for local CTE programs.

The written CTE report stated QHS students average 2.1 CTE classes per day and Quincy Middle School students on average have one CTE class per day. Numbers from October 2021 showed 84% of QHS students enrolled in a CTE course, and 53% of QMS students enrolled in a CTE course.

During his report to the board, Bergman thanked directors for participating in the Washington State School Directors Association’s conference. The keynote speaker at the conference was outstanding, Bergman said, and he went away feeling energized. He also said attendance at QSD’s recent parent conferences was high.