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City High eyes adding more advanced classes

BY HOLLY HINES | DECEMBER 10, 2009 7:30 AM

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When it comes to Advanced Placement and Honors classes at City High School, Tareq Abuissa is an expert.

Abuissa, a senior who recently applied to Yale University, has taken five advanced classes and at least eight Honors courses.

Iowa City School District officials are now considering expanding City High’s Advanced-Placement curriculum offered to students such as Abuissa by adding three new classes — Spanish, French, and German. The Iowa City School Board will likely to decide whether to approve the new courses at its meeting tonight.

Adding the classes would help balance the course offerings between City High and West High, where Advanced Placement Spanish is offered, said Superintendent Lane Plugge. State officials have been encouraging the district to offer more college-preparatory options for students, he said.

But Abuissa said he doesn’t think the advanced classes are vital, because City High offers Honors courses in the subjects. He prefers the Honors classes he’s taken — including French — over the Advanced Placement courses, he said.

“They allow us to be more excited about the material because we’re not just pushing for the test,” Abuissa said.

Advanced Placement classes are nationally standardized courses that prepare students for college-level work and culminate in a final exam, which universities can use to determine if a student earns college credit, according to the College Board website.

City High sophomore Anthony Rosazza said many students would be interested in taking the new classes to earn college credit.

His Advanced Placement World History class has helped him better write essays and become more organized, he said.

“Advanced Placement kind of goes above and beyond,” he said.

City High parent Natalie Pearson said she has mixed feelings about the classes. Her son, a junior, prefers Honors classes to the advanced classes because they are more interactive.

In addition to the Advanced Placement classes, district officials may also add a class called “Aerospace Engineering.” The pre-engineering course would be the fourth in a series of Project Lead the Way classes offered at City High, said Pat Highland, a career education coordinator for the School District and an adjunct lecturer at the UI.

Project Lead the Way, a national pre-engineering program for students aspiring to engineering careers, is also offered at West High.

Faculty members in the UI College of Engineering have helped train high-school teachers to teach the courses, Highland said.

“When you look at the field of engineering, there are lots of opportunities for students,” he noted, and teachers and district officials hope to increase interest among female students, whose numbers are smaller than that of males.

School Board member Tuyet Dorau said the board will not have discussed the class additions before tonight, and members are in favor of matching the curricula at both high schools and offering increased opportunities.


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