Regents, Honors or AP? Study hall or no? Virtual High School? Career and technical education?
These are just a few of the questions Tappan Zee High School students may discuss during personalized, 1:1 sessions with their school counselors each year in preparation for course selection. During these meetings, students and counselors review course recommendations teachers have provided based on students’ aptitude and effort and students’ own course choices. Differences between student choice and teacher recommendation are reflected upon and, ultimately, students have the opportunity to use an override process to proceed with their course request.
Counseling Department Team Leader Mr. Richard Weissberg notes that this student-centered approach to scheduling sets TZHS apart from other high schools. “For juniors, we’re looking to make sure that they’ve met all their graduation requirements and for coursework relevant to what they plan to study in college. For example, if a student is interested in pursuing any kind of business major, I’ll strongly recommend accounting…”
“…and extending math coursework into senior year,” adds school counselor Ms. Laura Ferrante. “In the spring of sophomore year, students take the Naviance personality/interest inventory to help identify potential areas of academic focus and career pathways. Depending on a student’s interests, we may talk about BOCES career and technical education programs, which begin junior year.”
Freshmen participate in a small group session with their school counselor in the fall, followed by their first 1:1 session just after February break. This allows school counselors to gather as much information about them as possible before that initial, personalized meeting.
“There are some students who just want to take everything and there just aren’t enough periods in the day, so we talk about balance. ‘Are you also planning to be a three-season athlete?,’” says school counselor Randy Altman. “At the same time, there are other students who may come in requesting only a few classes–or those who are capable of taking a more rigorous level of a particular course–that we’ll encourage to do more, to push themselves.”
What Students and Parents Should Know About Scheduling
There’s a difference between “accelerated” and Honors courses. Acceleration is when a student takes a high school course earlier than usual, most frequently, in middle school. Honors level courses move at a more rapid pace, with a heavier workload that requires more reading and writing than Regents level high school courses. An eighth-grader enrolled in an accelerated class may be more successful in a Regents level course as a freshman than an Honors level course. Accelerated classes, including Virtual High School high school level courses, taken in middle school are part of a student’s high school transcript.
When a student or parent requests a higher level course than has been recommended… The counselor will be give the student a Course Request Override form that must be signed by both the student and parent. When the form is returned to the counselor the Course Request will be changed.
Meeting the graduation requirement of five elective credits is easier than you may think. Any courses beyond the minimum requirements (for example, taking a second year of a world language), count toward elective credits.
Students are often surprised by the demands of Virtual High School courses. Online courses offered through Virtual High School provide students with the option to enroll in a broad range of classes not offered at TZHS. School counselors report that VHS classes may be as rigorous and demanding as students’ other coursework. Motivated, independent learners who are prepared for the added workload tend to be the most successful with VHS.
Courses are run based on student course requests. Once all student course requests have been received, the high school leadership team begins building the master schedule for the upcoming school year. Class sections are built and teachers are assigned to best meet student requests while complying with district policies governing class size, budget constraints and state mandates.
Although the School Counselors try to be as flexible as possible, scheduling changes may be difficult to accommodate after April 9th, the final date to request course overrides or submit course request changes. In many cases, a schedule change will result in a different lunch period or the loss of an elective due to conflict. With this in mind, students are strongly encouraged to be thoughtful and deliberate about the course requests they make in the winter for the following year.
At a Glance: TZHS School Counseling Department Calendar
- Fall: Scheduling adjustments, college application preparation with seniors, small group introduction meeting with freshmen, scheduled student counseling as needed
- Winter: Personalized, 1:1 course selection counseling with freshmen, sophomores and juniors, orientation for eighth-grade students and parents, eighth-grade course requests received
- Spring: Annual evaluations for students with individualized education plans (IEPs), junior college conferences with students and parents, Naviance kickoff with sophomores and graduation certifications for seniors
- Summer: Summer coursework is posted, student schedules are finalized and posted before students return to school