Two new math pathways are being added to the Cherry Hill Public School district’s course of study in addition to the traditional STEM course, as announced at the Nov. 28 board of education meeting.
The STEM pathway will continue to exist as an option, but starting in the 2024-’25 school year, students will also have the ability to take classes in Quantitative Literacy and Statistics after they’ve fulfilled the state requirements of taking Algebra I and Geometry. After introductory courses (Quantitative Reasoning for the literacy pathway or Intro to Data Science for the statistics pathway), students will be free to take any combination of the pathway’s offered courses.
The Qualitative Reasoning and Quantitative Literacy Pathway focuses on financial literacy, effective citizenship and the mathematics of numbers and modeling. It is said to be useful for the humanities and technical fields.
The Statistics Pathway is focused on developing computational and statistical thinking skills so students can tell stories with data. It prepares them for success in health, social science and business fields. Students are also able to switch pathways.
“One of the things that I loved about this concept in previous conversations we’ve had on the board was that students are not stuck in one track,” said board member Gina Winters. “That if I get to Algebra 2 and decide that where I really want to be is on the statistics pathway, I can jump over and take a course over there.”
Winters noted that the addition of the pathways has been discussed since before COVID.
” … I think students will feel more successful because they’ll have more options and they’ll be able to sort of extrapolate it out for their careers and what they’re looking for, and make more of a direct connection to the real world,” said board member Jenn Fleisher.
In addition to the two new pathways, the district high schools are adding a Broadcast and Media Production: Broadcasting III course to give students more experience with pre-production, production and post-production of content. The course – in the works for 2024-’25 – covers topics that include the arts and audio/visual technology.
The school board also approved on first reading and got comments from the public on the Religion in Schools Policy, an annual certification required as a condition for the district to receive funding from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. That measure states that “no board policy prevents or otherwise denies participation in constitutionally protected prayer in public, elementary and secondary schools.”
While some parents and students were concerned that prayers could be disruptive to class time or that they violate the traditional separation of church and state, Acting Superintendent Dr. Kwame Morton emphasized that student prayer is a constitutionally protected right.
“This policy itself requires that we certify that we are not preventing prayer that happens in schools, that happens independently,” he explained. “So if a student, according to their religious observations, has to pray at a designated time, administratively, we provide opportunities for them to do that and to do it independently.”
The next board of education meeting will be on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 6:30 p.m.