Upper School Shifts History Curriculum, Developing New Electives Based on Student Interest
St. Margaret’s Upper School will make a significant shift in its history and social science curriculum beginning in 2021-2022, moving United States history to grade 10 and expanding student access to more electives, including offers related to systems of privilege and inequality.
The curriculum shift was approved after extensive discussion between school leaders and the history department, with input from St. Margaret’s Equity Team. The changes include:
Shifting U.S. history and AP U.S. history from grade 11 to grade 10, and weaving historical themes and vocabulary between grade 10 U.S. history and grade 9 world history.
Allowing students in grades 11 and 12 to apply for any department AP offering (currently European history, human geography, psychology, macroeconomics, world history and government).
Creating new college prep semester electives, open to grades 10-12, that meet student interests and respond to current events.
“Following the in-service, members of the department gathered to reflect on their experiences and the department’s role in furthering DEI and anti-racist work at St. Margaret’s. A common theme in our discussions was the need to refine the department’s curriculum to provide more discussion of historical systems of privilege and inequality while expanding student access to these topics in our curriculum,” Upper School assistant principal and history department chair James Harris said.
Placing grade 9 world history and grade 10 U.S. history closer together on the student progression will enhance the department’s ability to weave thematic narratives between the two courses. In addition, many of the department’s college prep offerings are available only to grade 12, which limits potential enrollment and incentive to create newer, more up-to-date electives.
In the 2021-2022 transition year for the shift, all grade 10 and grade 11 students will take U.S. history or AP U.S. history. Members of the history department will be hard at work this spring and summer developing new course offerings and revising the U.S. history curriculum.
An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California
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