High School Course Selection Guide Introduction
The mission of the West Chester Area School District is
to educate and inspire our students to achieve their personal best.
West Chester Area School District 2020-2021 High School Course Description Guide
High School Course Selection Guide Introduction
Making Next Year’s Course Selections
Each year between January and May, West Chester Area School District students select their courses for the following school year. This procedure involves teacher recommendations, parental suggestions, counselor advice and, finally, student choice. The final decision is extremely important because West Chester Area School District’s staffing of teachers is dependent upon these choices. Furthermore, in order to build an accurate master schedule, the following procedures will be in effect.
- All course changes must be made by March 24*.
- All required courses must be scheduled before graduation.
- Requests for particular periods and/or teachers will not be considered to ensure an equitable master schedule
* The only exceptions are for failed courses, changed teacher recommendations, and completion of approved summer school courses.
Scheduling Of Courses:
Students in grades nine and ten must schedule a minimum of 6 credits including Health and Physical Education. Students in grade eleven must schedule at least 6.4 credits including Physical Education. All seniors must schedule at least 5.4 credits including Physical Education.
A total of 23.8 credits and a completed graduation project are required for graduation.
English: 4 credits
Social Studies: 4 credits
Mathematics: 3 credits
Science: 3 credits
Arts/Humanities: 2 credits
Electives: 5 credits
Health/Physical Ed: 2.8 credits
Beginning with the class of 2022, Chapter 4 Rules and Regulations for the state of Pennsylvania require that students must demonstrate proficiency on the Algebra 1, Biology, and Literature Keystone Exams in order to graduate. Keystone Exams help assess student proficiency of the Pennsylvania Core Standards - standards aligned with expectations for success in college and the workplace. Students will be offered multiple opportunities to take the Keystone Exams throughout their high school careers.
Sequence Of Courses
In recommending a sequence of courses, it’s difficult to arrive at a recommendation which will best serve the needs of all students. Variations to the sequence of courses suggested below can be arranged through consultation with your teacher and counselor. These suggested guidelines refer only to the minimum requirements for graduation. Your counselor has more detailed information regarding recommended courses for college bound students, business students, etc.
9th grade - 6.0 cr. 10th grade - 6.0 cr. 11th grade - 6.4 cr. 12th grade - 5.4 cr. English English English English Social Science Social Science Social Science Social Science Math Math Math Elective Science Science Science Elective Arts & Humanities Arts & Humanities Elective Elective Health Fitness 9 Health 10/Physical Ed. Elective Physical Ed. Elective (Optional) Elective (Optional) Physical Ed.
The Arts & Humanities requirements may be satisfied by English and Social Science electives and/or by courses in World Language, Art, Music, Family Consumer Science, and Technology Education. At times, some courses may be offered through distance learning due to low enrollment.
Level Recommendation Guidelines
Advanced Placement, or AP, refers to college-level courses taught according to the syllabi approved by the College Board Advanced Placement Program and/or to courses designed to prepare students for College Board AP tests. Successful performance on AP tests may lead to college credit and/or advanced placement in college courses. While course descriptions provide information about the course content on which the AP exam will be based, WCASD teachers have the flexibility to determine how the content is presented.
Accelerated Honors courses prepare students for Advanced Placement studies. Courses at this level are designed to provide students with access to the most rigorous curriculum that extends well beyond grade level standards. These courses promote both collaborative and self-directed learning through activities and assessments that emphasize written and oral communication.
Honors courses follow a rigorous curriculum prescribed by each department and develop higher-order thinking skills using a challenging pace and enriched content. Both in-class instruction and outside assignments focus on self-directed learning through activities and assessments that emphasize written and oral communication.
Career & College Prep:
Career & College Prep level courses develop students’ essential skills and acquisition of content knowledge within the subject area. This level emphasizes the development of increased rigor through classroom interactions and progressing demands for independent work in preparation for college and career readiness.
Moving From One Level to Another From Year to Year:
If a student performs at a consistently high standard within a basic, Career & College Prep or honors level, the student should consider moving to a more demanding level in the succeeding school year. Students who find that a higher level course is too challenging should consider dropping a level within that content area for the succeeding year.
Changes After the School Year Begins:
Students who wish to change a course and/or level within a content area must follow the guidelines provided by the Administration. Students may consider a level change (e.g. Honors to Accelerated Honors, Honors to Career & College Prep), after September 18.
- Changes from one elective course to another will not be considered after the elective change deadline of March 24, 2020.
- Once the school year begins, students may add electives if seats are available in the place of study halls, lunches, and otherwise unscheduled periods.
- Once the school year begins, student schedules will not be adjusted to accommodate course change requests, including requests to add electives, except as described above.
- Requests for particular periods and/or teachers will not be considered to ensure an equitable master schedule.
All level changes for full year courses must be completed no later than three weeks after the end of the first semester. All level changes for semester courses must be completed no later than three weeks before the end of the first marking period.
Blended learning is a dynamic learning format that allows students to experience courses where they interact with the curriculum partially at school and partially through online delivery of content and instruction. Students in these courses will meet with their teachers face-to-face in a traditional setting and will engage in learning activities online. Course descriptions within this guide will indicate the specific formats by courses.
Courses that are a part of the blended learning program follow the same rigorous curriculum as the traditional courses aligned with the Pennsylvania Academic Standards and meet graduation requirements. In addition, our courses use the latest technology tools to engage students, to personalize feedback, and to extend learning outside of the classroom.
Beginning with the class of 2021, all high school students will experience at least one required blended learning course, Health 10.
6 New Science Courses Offered
There are 6 NEW WCASD science courses that will be offered on a rotating basis. These are elective classes for Junior and Senior students.
For 2020-2021, the courses offered are:
Thermodynamics and Optics
Human Anatomy and Infectious Disease
Consumer and Green Chemistry
For 2021-2022, the courses are:
Electronics and Acoustics
Aquatic Ecology and Marine Biology
Organic Chemistry and Forensics
Virtual Learning offers students online, self-paced courses that will use interactive tools and engaging resources through our learning management system, Schoology. Students enrolled in a virtual course will have access to a teacher through online interaction and building level supports, which include access to the achievement center and teacher office hours. The virtual courses will be:
Accelerated Honors Geometry
AP Capstone - 2 year Course of Study
AP Capstone™ is a College Board program that equips students with the independent research, collaborative teamwork, and communication skills that are increasingly valued by colleges. It cultivates curious, independent, and collaborative scholars and prepares them to make logical, evidence-based decisions. Students who enroll in this program must commit to the two years and will earn 2 high school credits, weighted at the AP level.
Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing receive the AP Capstone Diploma™. This signifies their outstanding academic achievement and attainment of college-level academic and research skills.
Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in both AP Seminar and AP Research but not on four additional AP Exams receive the AP Seminar and Research Certificate™.
The West Chester Area School District dual enrollment program offers juniors and seniors the opportunity to concurrently enroll in a college level course that would be considered a high school elective credit. Upon successful completion, students participating in dual enrollment coursework would receive high school advanced placement credit, as well as college credit.
The partnering dual enrollment college establishes admittance and other criteria for participation. Students will be responsible for tuition, fees, and course material. More information and dual enrollment pre-approval forms are available from the school counseling department.
West Chester University Dual Enrollment Partnership
The West Chester Area School District and West Chester University have partnered to offer a menu of pre-approved dual enrollment courses for juniors and seniors. For student convenience, these classes will be located at the West Chester University Graduate Center and be scheduled for Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1:05 pm -1:55 pm. Students will be scheduled to depart from their high school at the conclusion of 6th period and travel by way of their own transportation to the Graduate Center located off of Greenhill Road. Tuition and fees are to be determined. Complete course descriptions are included within the guide.
There are 2 Dual Enrollment courses offered on a rotating basis in conjunction with West Chester University. These courses will be taught on site by WCASD teaching staff. For 2020-2021 the course offered will be Advanced Geoscience: Oceanography and Meteorology. For 2021-2022 the course offered will be Advanced Geoscience: Astronomy and Geology. Students successfully completing this full-year college level course will receive six college credits from West Chester University.
Career Exploration Program
The West Chester Area School District’s multi-faceted Career Education Program connects high school students with real world experiences, serving as a critical link between classroom learning, both in curriculum content and skill acquisition, and in the world of work. Deeper learning occurs through the purposeful integration of rigorous academic content with diverse experiences to build knowledge, intentionally cultivate skills, and broaden perspectives for students to become lifelong learners and purposeful contributors to our community and beyond.
Business and community connections positively impact students through the sharing of practical work experiences and learned life lessons that help students make informed career decisions. Through these meaningful interactions, community leaders also help students identify and hone future-ready skills needed to compete and succeed in the workplace.
Our goal is to provide awareness to students and families of the spectrum of post-secondary career and education and training opportunities including school to work, apprenticeship, certification, and two year and four year college/university programs. Purposeful and rewarding careers abound in both the skilled trades and those requiring a college degree, and may be achieved at various levels of financial cost.
Career Education Components – Grades 9 - 12
- Personal Interest & Aptitude Exploration: Students identify and develop personal interests through course selection including an array of elective course offerings, participation in extracurricular clubs, sports, and activities, and engagement in our comprehensive career exploration software program.
- Future-Ready Skills: Classroom and community based experiences focused on learning, literacy and life skills. Learning skills focus on the “Four Cs”: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. Literacy skills, also called “IMT”, include information, media, and technology skills that focus on digital comprehension. Life skills (“FLIPS”), include flexibility, leadership, initiative, productivity and social skills.
- Career Awareness via Field Trips, Community Events, and Career Showcases: Students may participate in a variety of curriculum related field trips, events and showcases in various career clusters and post-secondary educational institutions. Collaboration with leadership and mentoring organizations such as Junior Achievement (JA), Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW), Youth Leadership Program (YLP), and others is included. Students complete a reflection of their experience(s) which is housed in their individual career portfolio, allowing each experience to shape their future vision.
- Job Shadowing and Internship Program – Grades 11, 12: Job shadowing is a career exploration activity in which students gain exposure to careers that they are interested in pursuing by working with business/community volunteers for part of a work day. By visiting a workplace, investigating a career field and industry, and experiencing a typical day on the job, students can determine if the career and industry fits their interests, skills, and career aspirations. Students may initiate their own experiences or in coordination with the Career Education Counselor.
Internships provide juniors and seniors a deeper understanding of, and experience within, a business/institution/non-profit organization, over a minimum time period of 60 hours. This may be completed throughout the school year, summer, or during the last four weeks of senior year, in coordination with the Career Education Counselor. Students must procure their own internship-site, find the associated transportation, secure a faculty advisor, and the business must obtain the required Pennsylvania clearances. Each student is required to maintain a journal with reflections within their career portfolio, and provide an oral presentation that summarizes their experience at the conclusion of their internship. More information and application materials are available on the West Chester Area School District website under Career Exploration Program under the Curriculum tab.
2 New Career Education Courses
There are 2 newly created Career Education Courses that are being offered. The courses are designed first to help students make a successful transition from middle school to high school, and later to develop technical and soft skills needed for career readiness while exploring post-secondary options. The one semester courses offered are:
Future Readiness 1 (9,10)
Future Readiness 2 (11,12)
Neutral Weighting for Elective Courses
Many courses that were formerly weighted at the Career & College Prep level are neutrally weighted. However, students may choose to include level weighting for these specific elective courses in the calculation of their grade point average (GPA). Neutrally weighted elective courses can be found in the following subject areas:
- Career & College Prep level Art and Music courses
- Career & College Prep level Family & Consumer Science, Video Production 1, and Technology Education courses
- Career & College Prep level Business and Marketing courses
- Career & College Prep level English and Social Studies elective courses
- Career & College Prep level 1 and 2 World Language courses
To receive Career & College Prep quality points for neutrally weighted courses, students must complete a “Request for Elective GPA Inclusion” form that is available online and in each guidance office. This form must be signed by the student and their parent/guardian and returned to the student’s counselor no later than Wednesday, April 13, 2020.
- The term “Neutrally Weighted” will appear beneath the course title
of all eligible courses.
- Credits and grades earned in neutrally weighted courses will appear
All seniors must register for a minimum of 5.4 credits to be considered full-time students. A senior who has met all graduation requirements to date and is scheduled for study hall at the beginning or the end of their school day may request to participate in the senior privilege opportunity. If granted by administration, senior privileges afford students the opportunity to sign in to school later than 7:30 a.m., in lieu of attending study hall. This privilege also permits students the opportunity to leave school early in the event they are scheduled for a study hall at the end of the day. Students who are on senior privilege are not permitted to remain on campus unsupervised during the given study hall or unassigned lunch. School administration reserves the right to rescind senior privileges if necessary, and parents have the right to rescind permission at any time.
Students may be granted senior privileges if they meet the following requirements for the duration of their senior year:
- The student must have achieved a minimum 2.5 grade point average prior to their senior year.
- The student must avoid excessive lateness to and absence from school. Students will receive one warning before losing senior privileges for the remainder of the semester if they exceed 3 unexcused latenesses or absences.
- Students participating in senior privileges are responsible for their own transportation to and from school.
- The student must submit a completed Senior Privilege application with a parent signature prior to receiving administrative permission to participate in senior privilege.
Student schedules will not be altered to accommodate Senior Privileges
Grade point averages (GPA) are computed as recommended by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Students have the option to include elective courses at the Career and College Prep level into the GPA. Grades are
weighted in honors, accelerated honors, and AP courses.
At the end of each school year, final grades shall be reported on the report card and student transcript on a 100 point scale. All courses, including summer school courses, are included in the GPA with the exception of neutrally weighted elective courses as designated in the course selection guide.
Grade Career & College Prep Honors AP & Accel. Honors A+ = 97-100 4.3 4.73 5.16 A = 93-96 4.0 4.4 4.8 A- = 90-92 3.7 4.07 4.44 B+ = 87-89 3.3 3.63 3.96 B = 83-86 3.0 3.3 3.6 B- = 80-82 2.7 2.97 3.24 C+ = 77-79 2.3 2.53 2.76 C = 73-76 2.0 2.2 2.4 C- = 70-72 1.7 1.87 2.04 F = below 70 0 0 0
Course Withdrawal Policy
A student may withdraw from a class up to the following time period and receive NO grade:
- Full year course: 2 weeks prior to the end of the second marking period
- 1st semester course: 2 weeks prior to the end of the first marking period
- 2nd semester course: 2 weeks prior to the end of the third marking period
Withdrawal from a course beyond the time specified above:
- Student is failing: WF grade is recorded and included in the GPA
- Student is passing: WP grade is recorded but not included in the GPA
Promotion Requirements (Minimum)
Grade 10: A student who has completed at least 5 credits in Grade 9.
Grade 11: A student who has completed at least 11 credits in Grades 9 and 10.
Grade 12: A student who has completed at least 17 credits in Grades 9, 10, and 11.
Counseling Telephone Numbers: