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New dual enrollment courses to be offered next year

Mr.+Russ+Grier+teaches+his+Forensics+class.+Forensics+is+one+of+many+dual+enrollment+classes+that+students+can+already+take+at+PV.
Mr. Russ Grier teaches his Forensics class. Forensics is one of many dual enrollment classes that students can already take at PV.

Mr. Russ Grier teaches his Forensics class. Forensics is one of many dual enrollment classes that students can already take at PV.

Curstine Guevarra

Curstine Guevarra

Mr. Russ Grier teaches his Forensics class. Forensics is one of many dual enrollment classes that students can already take at PV.

Jamie Ryu, Staff Editor

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Pascack Valley will be offering five more dual enrollment classes in the 2017-2018 school year.

Dual enrollment classes are courses that allow students to earn college credit through a college or university during high school. Students must pay a fee to the college/university in order to earn college credit, though payment is not required to take the course.

The new classes are as follows: Literature of the Holocaust (Kean University), Language, Myth, & Culture (Seton Hall), senior Spanish, French, and Chinese (Seton Hall).

“The mission of the district is to prepare students for college and/or careers,” Dr. Barry Bachenheimer, the Director of Curriculum, said. “Most colleges, when they look at students to admit, the number one thing colleges look at is the rigor of the student’s schedule. So, are they taking honors classes or, more importantly, are they taking ap classes and college level classes?”

The more choices we can give our students, the better. ”

— Dr. Barry Bachenheimer, Director of Curriculum

Over the last few years, the number of students taking AP courses has tripled. However, according to Bachenheimer, the administration has been looking for ways for students to get college credit without “necessarily having to go through the College Board.”

“The more choices we can give our students, the better,” Bachenheimer said. “I think it’s good that they can take AP, they can take honors, they can take CP. There are a lot of choices that are available based on what your individual goals are.”

The district has offered dual enrollment classes for a decade, starting with Honors Forensics through Syracuse University’s Project Advance (SUPA). Since then, the district has added Public Affairs through the same program and, just this past year Psychology through Ramapo College, as well as Honors Engineering through the University of Texas. 

According to Bachenheimer, a total of 415 students in the Pascack Valley district were taking dual enrollment classes this past year. However, the administration has been searching for different ways to expand the number of dual enrollment programs.

“We [were] looking to expand options that we can so more students can earn college credit,” Bachenheimer said.  

It was confirmed on May 22, according to Supervisor of World Languages, Music, and Family and Consumer Sciences, Noemi Rodriguez, that all four language options offered at Pascack Valley were approved through Seton Hall for dual enrollment in the fall through a program called “Project Acceleration.”

Seniors taking both level four and level five classes will be able to enroll for college credits through Seton Hall.

In conjunction with the Rodriguez, Supervisor of English, Art, and Media Centers Ms. Virena Rossi, was able to get Language, Myth and Culture approved by Seton Hall in late April and Literature of the Holocaust approved through Kean University. Only the Honors sections of both classes will be eligible for dual enrollment.

Department supervisors have been looking into adding more dual enrollment courses since the beginning of the year, even longer in the case of Mr. Jospeh Orlak, Supervisor of Social Studies, Business, and Physical and Health Education. The courses were chosen by department supervisors.

“[Literature of the Holocaust] was a natural fit because they offer the course and the Honors Language, Myth, and Culture corresponds with [the course] Great Books of the Western World at Seton Hall,” Rossi said. “They fit with programs that I knew were offered there.”

The department supervisors were in charge of making connections with universities, then working out parameters, and selecting courses and instructors, with Bachenheimer advising them along the way and giving the final approval.

We believe students should have the opportunity to be exposed to a college level course.”

— Mr. Joseph Orlak, Supervisor of Social Studies, Business, and Physical and Health Education

“Usually it’s reversed engineered in that the university sets parameters for what can be, then supervisors see what courses could be [dual enrollment], then we look and see what classes we want to be [dual enrollment courses],” Bachenheimer said.

“It was quite a process,” Rodriguez said. “They were extremely analytical of our curriculum documents, our assessments, our student work samples. So it took a while because, at the university level, they did a very thorough analysis of our courses and our standards.”

However, the district does not plan to stop with the 2017-2018 year. Rossi is also looking to find English courses that align with the SUPA program for the 2018-2019 year. On top of this, it has been confirmed that Economics will be offered as a dual enrollment course in the 2018-2019 school year through SUPA.

“This was a big year for dual enrollments,” Orlak said. “We don’t want to do too many because we won’t have the students to fill those seats.”

While the department wanted to get the course approved for the 2017-2018 year, there were issues regarding teacher training.

Syracuse University requires that teachers be trained at the university in order for them to teach in the SUPA program. While the district wanted to approve teachers before getting the curriculum approved, they found that Syracuse required that the curriculum be approved first.

The department also wanted to ensure that there was interest in the course. According to Orlak, upon asking students if there was an interest in having a class that grants college credit, the answer was “overwhelmingly” yes.

“While don’t wanna flood the students,” Orlak said, “we believe students should have the opportunity to be exposed to a college level course.”

Everybody has to take tests. Everybody has sat through SATs or PSATs or PARCC. At Pascack Valley Regional, we want our students to be exposed to a whole variety of different types of assessments over the course of their high school career.

In an effort to allow more students to take their desired courses, Orlak is also looking into other SUPA programs, such as accounting and sports management, that could potentially grow the dual enrollment program—and the department in general—in the future. Rossi is, similarly, considering adding courses that align with those offered by various college and not currently offered in the district.

“We’re going to keep looking for opportunities,” Bachenheimer said. “We’re not doing it just to do it. We’re saying is this something that is going to be good for students. We’re trying to find universities that are good opportunities for students.”

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Pascack Valley High School's Official News Site: Where there's smoke, there's fire.
New dual enrollment courses to be offered next year