New state mandate brings change to BHS curriculum

Davis Corman, Editor-in-Chief

In light of a recent Pennsylvania mandate, the BASD School Board has approved a new curriculum plan affecting the eligibility of courses to earn college credit. 

A few months ago, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed Act 55, which brought changes to school guidelines and procedures. Specific sections regarding the area of post-secondary classes and their weight have recently been discussed at the school board level. In order to adhere to the new state standards, Bellefonte was forced to change aspects of its curriculum.

The changes focused on classes that offered College in High School (CHS) credit. CHS is a program that enables students to enroll in college classes through their high school course. Therefore, if they meet the requirements of the college, they earn college credit upon the completion of the class.

Junior Alyssa Hopkins has enrolled in CHS courses.“I love that I can get a head start into college just by taking a class I normally would have taken in high school. The classes are great in helping me prepare for what to expect in college,” she said.

Going into the 2023-2024 school year, Bellefonte classes that offer CHS credit will now have their Grade Point Average (GPA) weight altered to adhere to the new state mandate. Many CHS classes were originally weighted by 1.04, however, the mandate now requires all CHS courses to have the same weight as Advanced Placement (AP) classes, which are weighted by 1.07. Therefore, all CHS courses in the 2023-2024 school year will now weigh a student’s GPA by 1.07.

“I think it is great that students won’t feel pressured to take AP classes due to the weight and can pursue credit not just through the college board,” junior Cedric Bagwell  said.

Although this will benefit many students’ GPAs, there was pushback on the school’s proposal to change the curriculum. This was because the alterations include stripping academic classes of the ability to offer CHS credit. 

“In essence, there would be no numerical, academic difference between honors compared to the academic section.  Therefore, this would not align with other courses that receive additional weighting due to the rigor of the course,” BHS Principal Michael Fedisson said. 

The removal of credit specifically affects the Language Department at Bellefonte, who can no longer offer college credit to students enrolled in their academic classes. 

“This is incredibly disappointing and definitely not what Mrs. Smith and I were hoping for,” Spanish teacher Profe said.

It is important to note that students who elect to take an honors language class can still earn CHS credit, however, those in academics are excluded from the opportunity.

In a February Board Meeting, the school board voted 5-4 to accept the curriculum changes, which will go into effect in the 2023-2024 school year.