Starting this semester, the University of California has approved the school’s Forensics science class as a high school elective class, which was inaugurated in the 2007-2008 school year by science teacher Lisa Bolton.
In order to gain accreditation, Bolton had to send the class’ curriculum, lab activities, objectives and key assignments to a panel of judges who review the material. Other schools in the same school district can send the same packet if they wish to gain accreditation. Currently, Los Altos is the only school in the district with a forensics class.
Bolton previously asked for UC accreditation in March, but was denied.
“The UCs haven’t really favored UC classes for approval; they like more theory vs. hands-on experience, so I took out some of the labs we were doing just for fun solving crimes and added more science portions and resubmitted it in August,” Bolton said.
It was approved over the Christmas break by the University of California, prompting Bolton to adopt the new curriculum, which “took out the analysis of forged documents” and instead focused more in depth on other sections of the textbook.
Most students agree that there seems to be little change in the difficulty of the course.
“The class is pretty much the same, almost the same curriculum, we seem to just be following the pace that was set at the beginning of the course,” senior Charles Olaires said.
Bolton agrees that the class didn’t change in difficulty with the accreditation.
“I was writing [the first curriculum] in the hopes of getting approved for a lab course, which I knew wasn’t going to happen,” Bolton said. “[At] the beginning of the year I told the kids I’m running it like it is a physics, chemistry or biology class.”
Some students are worried that their grade in the class might now affect their college transcripts in a bad way.
“I signed up because it seemed interesting and I needed another class, not for the credit,” senior Emily Tang said. “Now I’m focusing more on my work and making sure I get a good grade in the class.”
However, there is hope that ,if the class is adapted by more schools in California, it might eventually be approved as a laboratory course.
“In a couple of years I might try to resubmit the curriculum and get lab credit; however it’s not likely that they would approve it … because they don’t want focus to shift from the core science classes,” Bolton said.