Officials from Proviso Township High Schools are proposing “major” curriculum changes for next school year that would result in a stronger emphasis on core classes, as well as more instructional time during the day.

District 209 plans to require that students pass certain core classes such as English, math, science and social studies at their grade level before they can be promoted to the next grade. Currently, students are classified as sophomores, juniors or seniors according to their credit hours, as opposed to the successful completion of specific courses.

“This isn’t unique to Proviso,” said TaQuoya Kennedy, the district’s communications director. “Schools across the country are trying to meet the challenge of No Child Left Behind. You’ll find a lot of schools moving to a core curriculum to better prepare students for tests and for what they receive in the classroom and beyond.”

The news comes in light of recently released data that shows that all three high schools – Proviso East, Proviso West and Proviso Math and Science Academy – failed to make “adequately yearly progress,” according to the Illinois State Board of Education.

The new model of curriculum is, therefore, meant to “help ensure students are adequately prepared” for the state’s standardized test, the Prairie State Achievement Exam, according to a press release.

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“As we seek to raise student achievement, we must continue to evaluate our curriculum requirements and their effectiveness in preparing our students,” Dr. Cheryl Pruitt, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, wrote in a statement. “We are not adjusting the number of credits needed, but we are adjusting the specific courses that are required to be promoted to the next level. That way we won’t have students going to the next grade or to their next phase in life ill-equipped and unprepared. This adjustment allows us the opportunity to provide a more solid educational foundation.”

District 209 also reported that it plans to alter the structure of its schedule so that students take classes for six periods and lunch for one period, as opposed to seven class periods plus lunch. Students will likely have one fewer elective per semester.

The move “allots more time for teaching and learning by providing longer class periods,” according to the release.

The new schedule also “allows for more intensive academic intervention because the more time we spend in core classes with the students, the more we can evaluate students and focus on their development and improvement,” Kennedy said.

Current freshman will be the first group required to satisfy the perquisites while all students will be affected by the longer class periods.

The individual schools will each host an open forum this month for parents, students and community members to discuss the proposals. The Proviso West forum will be held on Nov. 16 in the Little Theater while the Proviso Math and Science Academy forum will be the same day in the Auditorium. The Proviso East forum will be Nov. 17 in the Auditorium. All forums will run from 7 to 8 p.m.

Proviso East and Proviso West will still require 22 credits for graduation. Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy will still require 25 Carnegie units of credit for graduation or 27.5 Carnegie units of credit for graduation with distinction, according to the release.