It’s an effort to supply students with more demanding coursework.

The local Board of Education on Wednesday approved the creation of an Advanced Placement macroeconomics class at Santa Monica High School, which could have the course up and running as soon as this fall.

The move comes as the Santa Monica-Malibu school district attempts to attract more students to AP classes, which officials see as critical to closing academic achievement gaps that have persisted across racial and socioeconomic lines.

“This allows and provides more students who are afraid, or have a little bit of a lack of confidence, the opportunity to try for a more rigorous course,” said Ellen Edeburn, the district’s director of secondary curriculum and instruction.

The proposed course lasts the entire school year and weaves a semester of standard U.S. government material into the AP macroeconomics curriculum. Enrollment does not require concurrent enrollment in calculus, Edeburn said, another factor that could help improve participation.

The course was devised by social studies teacher Rose Ann Salumbides with the help of Samohi principal Eva Mayoral, who recently left the district to move closer to her family. Salumbides, who will teach the class, was was not available to answer questions from board members because she was on vacation.

Terry Deloria, the district’s assistant superintendent for educational services, said the stretching of the class over an entire school year solves a problem that often comes with one-semester AP courses. If AP macroeconomics were offered on its own in the first semester, she said, students would likely forget material they’d need on the May exam. If it were offered in the second semester, students wouldn’t get through all of the coursework in time for the test.

This way, officials said, students will have access to an AP class at a less-rigorous pace while earning credit for a semester each of macroeconomics and government.

But the timeline is short to get students enrolled and books ordered by the fall. Edeburn said Mayoral had built a list of students who had been identified as candidates for possible participation in AP classes based on PSAT performance. History teachers, advisors and counselors also discussed the potential opportunity with students this past school year, officials said.

Several board members also expressed concerns about the discrepancy between standard government material and challenging economics concepts.

“The government part looks super elementary and the macro part looks brutal,” board member Craig Foster said, looking over an outline of the curriculum. “I’m trying to remember some of these things myself. … The macro feels really hard, and the government feels really easy to me.”

Board member Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, a political science professor at Santa Monica College, said he was reluctant to approve the course because it lacked deeper attention to civic participation. Edeburn said the paperwork given to the board only included a brief summary of the government material and that it would be fleshed out further.

Board members Laurie Lieberman and Oscar de la Torre also wondered whether financial literacy, including knowledge of student loans, would be incorporated into the course. Deloria said all students will be exposed to that kind of material as part of a new state requirement.

The creation of the course passed unanimously with the provisions that interim SMMUSD co-superintendents Chris King and Sylvia Rousseau will review the recruitment process and that a detailed outline of the government curriculum will return to the board for future review.

jeff@smdp.com

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