January 8, 2013

High school increases math, science requirements for incoming freshmen

Beginning with the class of 2017, Hamilton High School students will be required to take three credits each of mathematics and science and 13 elective credits to graduate. It will be a one-credit increase each in mathematics and science and two fewer elective credits. Hamilton Principal Candis Mongan outlined the changes for School Board members as presented in the 2013-14 high school course catalog.

The credit increases will put the district ahead of state initiatives to increase mathematics and science credits. Most Hamilton students will not be affected because approximately three-quarters of the student body already takes three credits each of mathematics and science – a trend that has been steadily increasing.

Other changes in the course catalog include:

  • adding cheerleading and poms to the list of athletics that will fulfill a half-credit of fitness education if the student completes a health course during the summer; and
  • offering physics as a blended class option. The high school already offers a communication arts, mathematics and social studies course as blended classes, a combination of face-to-face and online instruction. The first two weeks students meet in face-to-face in class every day. Eventually, the class format shifts to only two weekly face-to-face classes with the remaining instruction conducted online. Content covered is the same as traditional classes. Mongan said blended classes help student adjust to the online learning they will experience in college. She said previous students in Hamilton’s blended classes have returned from college to report that they were better prepared for college expectations.

Chapter 220 moves focus to greater academic rigor

Hamilton’s Chapter 220 Program is gearing up for a shift that will place greater emphasis on promoting academic rigor for students. School Social Worker and Chapter 220 Program Coordinator Erica Bova-Brown reported on her efforts with Chapter 220, a voluntary integration program that brings Milwaukee Public Schools students to suburban districts.

Bova-Brown said this year will provide baseline data that will be used to track students on assessments including state standardized tests, ACT and Advanced Placement exams.

One measure, the graduation rate, shows promise as 100 percent of Chapter 220 students from the past five years have graduated from Hamilton compared to the 50 percent graduation in Milwaukee Public Schools.

A total of 117 Milwaukee residents attend the Hamilton School District through the program. Bova-Brown reported that she has worked closely this year with administrators and guidance staff to monitor and support students from targeted student groups. Her goal was to increase the number of minority, limited English and low socio-economic status students who participated in an ACT preparation course, took the ACT exam and enrolled in honors and Advanced Placement courses.

2013-14 calendar approved

School Board members approved the 2013-14 calendar, whose format is similar to those in the past. The calendar added another orientation day, for a total of three, for new teachers who will report to school Aug. 21. Another change is having elementary and middle school parent-teacher conferences one week later, based on feedback from teachers who wanted more classroom time with students before the first conference. Other significant dates of the calendar include:

  • Sept. 3 – first day of school;
  • Oct. 25 – professional development day for staff, no classes for students;
  • Nov. 27 – no school for students and parent-teacher conferences in the morning;
  • Dec. 23-Jan. 1 – winter break;
  • Feb. 27-28 – professional development day for staff, no classes for students;
  • April 18-25 – spring break;
  • June 11 – last day of classes for students;
  • June 12 – last workday for staff; and
  • May 23, June 12 – 13 – possible make-up days.

Personnel news

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignations of Marcy Elementary School administrative assistant Linda Kelly and Maple Avenue Elementary School assistant cook Kelly Kozlowski; and
  • granted a one year leave of absence for Woodside first grade teacher Melissa Latona for the 2013-14 school year.