More Taft HS students taking AP, IB classes in which they can earn college credit; earlier start to school year praised
by BRIAN NADIG
An increase in the number of students taking college-level courses, the benefits of an earlier start to the school year and concerns about tardiness were discussed at the March 8 meeting of the Taft High School Local School Council.
The number of Taft students registered for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Program classes is expected to increase from 2,748 this school year to 4,650 in 2022-23, a jump of about 70 percent, principal Mark Grishaber said. Those numbers include students who are in multiple AP or IB classes, which allow students to earn course credit for college.
“Colleges are not just looking at your GPA. They want to see the rigor of your classes,” Grishaber said.
In the past it was not usual to have parents and students object to these class, but those fears have largely dissipated, and students are looking forward to the chal lenge, Grishaber said.
Also at the meeting, some LSC members voiced support for an earlier start to the school year, as the Chicago Board of Education has approved Monday, Aug. 22, as the first day of classes, which would be a week earlier than this school year.
“It puts (students) in play with the suburban kids,” LSC parent member Chris Raguso said.
Taft administrators have complained that Chicago’s traditional late start puts students behind in terms of preparation for the SAT test and hurts their chances of getting a good summer job due to classes end ing mid-to-late June. For years the Chicago Public Schools started classes after Labor Day.
During public participation, a parent raised concerns that students are taking advantage of an attendance policy in which they are marked tardy instead of absent even though they miss all but a few minutes of the class.
Taft administrators said that the policy was set by CPS and is in effect systemwide.
“It’s kind of setting these kids up for disaster in the real world,” the parent said.
The parent said that she is notified through a school portal when her child is marked tardy and that she then checks with the teacher to see how late. “We think a tardy is two minutes late,” but it can be almost the entire length of the class, she said.
LSC teacher representative Bridget Doherty Trebing said that under a previous notification/portal system it was easier to note the amount of time a student missed. The amount of time can be entered into the notes function under the newer system, according to administrators.
It also was reported that the school has put together a schedule listing which bathrooms are open and at what the times.
“Students can’t be on time for class when they’re scouring for an open bathroom,” LSC student representative Skylar Lim said, urg- ing that the schedules be posted in more places.
The school has been assigning security to watch over the bath-rooms due to vaping and vandalism issues, and teachers have been instructed not to issue hall passes to the bathroom during the first and last 10 minutes of a class.
Grishaber said that the policy was created because the most important instruction often occurs at the beginning of a class and students sometimes do not return to class when given a hall pass toward the end of class.
It also was announced that Taft art and design teacher Jennifer Trejo has been named a finalist for the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.