Monday, October 02, 2006

NACS Board position is one school can offer more courses, is this true?

The feasibility study states that larger schools can offer more courses. I have been trying to figure out just how many more courses might be able to be offered. Currently there are 120 courses offered with three of them being combined with others. 46 courses have one session; 29 courses of two sessions; 13 courses have three session; 4 courses have four sessions and after the number of courses drop as sessions increase.

Looking at the courses that correspond to two or fewer sessions each, correlate very well with non core curriculum classes. These are the type of non core classes that could be offered as enrollment increases. However, let us think a bit about what is happening. For every new student who arrives at Carroll, this student is already dedicated to taking many core courses to graduate such as math, English, science, gym to name a few. This means out of six class periods a day, most have but 1 or 2 periods available to take an elective. As the course offerings increase, the base is growing ever larger.

Let us think in terms of a pyramid. With two levels, we have three blocks. To add another level, we need three additional blocks. To add the fifth layer we need five additional blocks. The problem is it takes ever more blocks at the base to add height to our pyramid. The very same problem faces a growing high school. Unless every new student enrolled above the previous enrollment total wants to take something absolutely different than those now offered, the number of courses added grows ever slower.

The only reason why a course is not offered is because of an insufficient number of interested students. Student interests fit a bell shape curve where the majority of students will end up taking the same classes from a given selection over time. Expanding this selection can only happen if those toward the outer edges of the bell shape grow in number sufficient in number and want to take something else. Does it require up to 400 additional students to offer an other course and if so, how many more after that to add just one more course?

I for one would like to see some evidence that larger enrollments offer more courses and that these additional course offerings have any influence on success. In addition adding additional courses increases problems with;

  • Required teacher certification
  • Scheduling
  • Classroom utilization

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