UC approval: a struggle for new courses

Over the last year, the school has applied for a number of new courses to be approved as UC honors and college preparatory courses. The school currently offers an array of UC approved honors courses, but the most recent additions of Multivariable Calculus, French V, Statistics, Chinese IV and Biotechnology to the curriculum were not approved as UC honors courses. Despite this fact, the district will weigh some of these courses with honors credit if it carries the honors designation for the high school weighted grade
point average (GPA).

Starting this year, schools can only request approval for honors courses during three specific time phases in the spring, summer and fall. In previous years, the submission process was flexible because it reviewed courses throughout the majority of the year.

Some courses that were submitted during the summer have not heard back from the UC board that approves course eligibility. Assistant Principal Perla Pasallo said that the UC board has only taken messages and the replies from
emails are very generic.

“[It’s] very frustrating for teachers and for myself because the UC’s don’t get back on the submissions before the school year and[we’re still waiting],” Pasallo said.

The UC board only allows a certain amount of honors courses per grade in public schools. UC campuses require a specific number of a-g courses for students to be eligible in their admissions process. Although French V, Statistics, Chinese IV and Biotechnology were not initially found eligible for honors or college preparatory status, they have been resubmitted for approval.
“[The restriction on honors courses exists] and keeps the playing field more even and fair because [other high schools] may not offer as many honors courses because they may not have comparable resources.” Pasallo said.
In addition, the new UC submission process requires courses to fit their curriculum to a specific application template.
“We’ve got these brilliant teachers with brilliant curriculums, but it’s hard to fit some of our course syllabuses into the submission templates [that the UC board] provides.” Pasallo said.
Since the school has exceeded the number of honors courses allowed per grade level, more recently established courses such as French V Honors were not approved.
“[The UC honors approval system] is kind of unfair, because Mountain View does have French V Honors class,” French teacher Christophe Barquissau said. “It’s not very fair for [French V] to not be approved as an honors class. I had to redesign the whole paperwork to make it a non-honors class, but essentially, it’s the same. We should be approved as an honors class.”
Although these courses are not approved by the UC board as honors courses, the district will still weigh some of these courses if “Honors” was in the course title. While students’ school GPA will reflect these courses as honors credit, the students’ UC weighted GPA will not.
“[A lot of my students take Multivariable Calculus because] they think it’ll make their application for college look good,” math teacher Michael Richardson said. “I think the only thing they don’t have that they might want is for [the] UC’s to count it as an honors class.”
While Multivariable Calculus is currently not an honors class, it could possibly become one after resubmission.
Even though the UC board system will not be changing in the near future, teachers like Barquissau are still hopeful about getting their honors courses approved.
“I’m going to keep pressing for honors class,” Barquissau said. “[My students] are the crème of the crème of the crème. They are the best students in French, [they] just deserve to have honors class…I’m not going to give up.”