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In a recent note home to MS parents, I highlighted some exciting changes in our science program for next school year.

The core class for next year’s ninth graders will be biology, rather than physical science. The following year, in 10th grade, those students will take chemistry (rather than biology). The effect of this move will be an acceleration of our science program by one year, making higher level courses more available to both juniors and seniors. Where past juniors would take chemistry, they will now be able to take physics, AP Chem, or AP Bio. Senior year is then open to another AP course or science elective.

This sequence will put Marshall students one year ahead of students in the public schools, and our faculty are working on updates to the curriculum that will help students from other schools transition into a more rigorous program. Science teachers in the MS have already begun altering their curriculum to prepare students for the new sequence.

Why the change?

To put it bluntly: The competition in math and science is intense, and we want our students to be prepared.

The graphic above (from Education Week), highlights the rising popularity of advanced level math and science courses.

A recent study by Harvard professors Philip Sadler and Gerhard Sonnert examined whether students who take more demanding courses in high school have an edge over their peers.

The answer, they found, was: Yes.

After controlling for differences in students’ academic backgrounds, students who passed AP science courses did better in their college level science courses than those who did not take AP courses.

Therefore, giving Marshall students an opportunity to take AP courses in their junior and senior years should not only assist in getting into college but also help them succeed once they are there.