South Orangetown Central School District

Course advisement session at TZHS

With the release of its 2023-24 Curriculum Guide, Tappan Zee High School is getting ready to kick off its course advisement process for next school year. Among the diverse course offerings are eight new electives, including FIRST Robotics, Pop into Podcasts and Literally Graphic: An Exploration of the Graphic Novel Genre.

As part of the school’s work toward the Every Student Succeeds Act goal of “improving academic readiness,” high school administrators, counselors and faculty have standardized advisement practices, introduced electives driven by student interest and encouraged students to make the most of the academic coursework available to them.

Principal Rudy Arietta explained:

  1. Direct, personalized advising by teachers and counselors:  “We’ve standardized the expectation for all teachers to communicate with each of their students about recommended coursework for the upcoming year–and many of our teachers have been doing this for years. Our counselors then meet individually with students for an entire period to discuss their interests and post-graduation goals, review teacher recommendations and talk about the override process.”
  2. Positive peer influence:  “We launched the Elective Fair last year, which promoted peer conversations about elective options and got kids excited about being selected to represent the classes they were taking. This year, we plan to relocate the event to maximize exposure.” The 2022 Elective Fair will be held December 14 during lunch periods.
  3. Interest-driven electives:  “Coming out of COVID, our teachers have done a good job coming up with unique electives, which we try to make accessible for all kids. For example, the English department is introducing seven electives this year based on units or activities in existing classes that were popular and successful. Breaking these out into separate electives will enable students to go deeper and pursue their passion. From a programmatic standpoint, we’re making it more enticing for our students to take electives.”

Discussing course selections at home before the advisement process begins is also important. Student course requests are used to build the school’s master schedule (electives run based on enrollment) and inform budget development, which reduces flexibility to accommodate schedule changes made after requests have been finalized.

“We really encourage parents and guardians to start conversations with their children now,” Counseling Team Leader Kelly Keane explained. “Take a look at the Curriculum Guide together.”

The Counseling Team offers the following tips, which can help guide family discussions:

  • Select course levels that allow you to be both challenged and successful. Course selection is not one-size-fits-all; challenge yourself in the subjects that interest you most.
  • Strike a balance: Choose a course load that will also allow for time to join clubs and participate in activities outside the classroom.
  • Take teacher and counselor input into consideration when making your selections.
  • Avoid enrolling in a course for the wrong reasons, such as because your friends are taking it. Choose a path that allows you to explore your own interests.
  • Don’t be afraid to try something new. Electives are a great way to be introduced to topics that might spark a new interest.
  • If you already have specific future career/college interests, research recommended courses for that field.