Edina School Board reviews prospective new courses


Lex Li

Students will have the opportunity to explore the new course offerings and changes when they register for the 2023-24 school year in February.

Celeste Eckstein, copy editor

On Jan. 9, the Edina School Board approved changes to the course catalog made by the Edina Public Schools Teaching and Learning Department. The changes were initially proposed in a Dec. 12 meeting. The catalog is edited annually, with changes ranging from edits in course descriptions to creating or eliminating courses. Because the curriculum review process is currently occurring in the fine arts and science departments, most of the changes revolve around those subjects.

Changes to EHS’s catalog include a new Calculus course as an alternative to AP Calculus, an Education Experience elective where students get involved with real-world educational opportunities such as working at Kids Club or volunteering at elementary schools, multiple new online electives, AP African American Studies, new advanced art courses, and slight changes in course descriptions. A new Physics course, which was not included in the original Dec. 12 proposals, was also approved. 

The process to initiate course changes begins with teachers, who make proposals that often stem from curriculum review. EPS departments conduct curriculum review to meet statewide standards which are updated roughly every 10 years. The resultant proposals are then checked by the administration to assure the district has sufficient resources and staff to accomplish the proposal. Finally, the proposal goes to the school board, which ultimately approves or denies it. 

Throughout that process, Jody De St. Hubert, Director of Teaching and Learning for EPS, and the Teaching and Learning department help facilitate collaboration staff and smooth transitions throughout the process of adapting course offerings. “My goal is to try to be the bridge between the buildings and the staff and advocate for what [EPS staff] want, and help the board understand why there’s that advocacy,” said De St. Hubert. “We have a great partnership with [the School Board], they ask questions, and then I’m kind of in-between, trying to get those questions answered and informing them.” 

De St. Hubert collaborates with staff members like Edina High School art teacher and department lead Kim Raskin, who has been working on the art curriculum review team for about four years, an undertaking prolonged by the COVID-19 pandemic. The curriculum review process adapts courses to meet statewide standards set by the Minnesota Department of Education.

Raskin explained that all the advanced art classes are undergoing structural changes. “Currently, a lot of the classes are levels; for example, Drawing and Painting I, II, III, and IV. We’re keeping the Drawing I and II, we’re just changing our III and IV…so anything past level II will now be an ‘advanced’ version of the course,” Raskin said. 

The goal of the changes is not only to meet Minnesota’s standards but to benefit students. For example, the new advanced courses are meant to be repeatable, providing students with more room for growth. “For some students, they will take our current level III and IV course, and then they’re done, and they want to do more,” said Raskin. “So [the advanced art courses] give the ability for kids to just keep going without having to feel like they’re done.” 

According to the official new course proposals, a prospective new class called Interpersonal Relationships and Collaboration aims to help students “build strong social connections and collaboration skills as this was difficult during distance learning.” “That was a [teacher’s submission, saying] ‘I’m seeing a need,’ and it aligns with our district vision and mission in order to support the whole child,” said De St. Hubert. 

A collaborative approach extends beyond the EPS district. One of the new courses is AP African American Studies, which is currently being piloted at 60 schools nationwide. According to De St. Hubert, the EHS teacher who will teach the course next year has reached out to other districts currently piloting the course to learn more about it. “So I’d say we reach out more to others to learn what they’re doing, or others reach out to us, and we try to have a collaborative system across Minnesota,” De St. Hubert said.  

Students will have the opportunity to explore the new course offerings and changes when they register for the 2023-24 school year in February.