The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

School Allows Dual Enrollment in STEM Classes

In the past, students who wished to enroll in two classes in the same department have found it difficult to do. Students have to talk to teachers for permission and have long discussions with their counselors, but now the process may become easier.

The number of courses in the science department has continued to grow with each successive year. There is no longer just the traditional Physics, Biology, Chemistry and their AP version classes, but a diverse range of courses ranging from Biotechnology to Forensics. The challenge with this expansion is that students are still limited to the four science courses in their high school career, yet the courses they can choose from has not remained constant.

Opening up the number of courses students can take in the science department solves this problem. While it is clearly impossible to take all the courses offered, students now have a greater ability to expand from taking only four courses.

“In science, after you have taken Bio and Chemistry, you can double up in other sciences. If after ten days there is a seat and you mathematically can do it, that is fine – you can do it,” Assistant Principal Perla Pasallo said.

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What the school is trying to do is ensure there are enough seats for everyone to have at least one math and one science class in their schedule. However, this will still allow students who want to get ahead in math and science to do so, as long as the school has the resources to provide seats after all  students have already picked at least one class. With the increase in the number and variety of science classes in the future, Pasallo believes that this seems like a good possibility.

In allowing students to co-enroll in science courses, there has been discussion about doing the same in other departments, such as in mathematics. Statistics AP teacher Carol Evans believes that the process for allowing students to enroll in Statistics along with other math courses, such as Calculus or Trigonometry, should be made easier as well.

“You can double up in math if it is Calc [or] Stats and higher; or after the first ten days once school has started, if there is still room in another class, you can go into that class,” Pasallo said.

However, class size and limitations in funds make turning this into a possibility difficult. If more students choose to co-enroll in mathematics courses, this translates into more classes to accommodate the influx of students. More classes in one department means less classes in another.

For instance, even though this past year students were able to enroll in both Multivariable Calculus and Statistics courses, the former was offered after school. When it is offered this coming year as a class taught during school, this dual enrollment may become less common.

Evans believes that the material in Statistics has many real word applications and is integral for students. In particular, students who are not interested in the maths or sciences may find statistics even more important than Trigonometry or Calculus.

“The question is if you aren’t going to be  in the sciences, how much calculus do you need? How much statistics do you need?” Evans said.

In addition, Evans argues that the benefits from having taken statistics extend far past high school environment.

“My view is that kids … need statistics” Evans said. “They need to know what a confidence interval is when someone gives it to them. [Students] need to be able to say, ‘wait a minute, how did you get that number?”

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