Physics replaces Chemistry in pathway



Effective next school year, the NGSS pathway will shift the science outline to follow a Biology, Physics, then Chemistry path. Science teacher CJ Addington is currently the only teacher at RHS with the credentials to teach Physics.


Beginning next year, RJUHSD will begin implementing a restructured science pathway. While students will still start off with biology as per the current pathway, during their sophomore year they will take physics next rather than chemistry.

According to NGSS lead teacher Mike Purvines, this change is due to the district switching from CP science courses to new NGSS science courses, as the NGSS pathway starts with biology and is followed up with physics.

Physics was previously an elective science course and current physics teacher CJ Addington is the only teacher at RHS who has the credentials to teach the course. Now that NGSS Physics will become a required course for students to graduate, more teachers will need to either attain their credentials or be hired to make the shift successful.

“Now it’s going to have to be collaboratively run between several teachers and that’s going to change some things,” Addington said. “So we are going to have to organize how we share equipment and how we share rooms, make sure we are on the same calendar that sort of thing, so it’s going to take some work.”

Particularly because it is a required course, Addington anticipates that students will experience a fairly different curriculum for NGSS Physics, which will not be as expansive as its CP counterpart.

Future science classes will experience a shift in curriculum as the NGSS course shifts pathways.

“It’s more of an introductory physics and it probably going to have less math than the college prep would,” Addington said. “But [physics] is still going to cover the same material. And it’s still going to give kids the same exposure to the basics of physics.”

The goal of NGSS is to provide students with a more hands-on approach that will be more applicable to the real world, which has altered the content of the courses. With the new curriculum, the topics covered and tested will be branch out beyond those that existed in CP. The test categories will consist of life science, chemistry, physics, and earth and space, whereas the older science classes had tests of just biology, chemistry and physics.

It is unknown as to how NGSS will affect the test scores, but with the NGSS biology already starting, teachers will soon collect the data as to how the students are learning and adapting to the new courses.

While NGSS Physics and Chemistry will roll out in the next two years, the NGSS Biology course students took this year is still undergoing revisions as teachers begin to discover how to best make it work for students. Physics and Chemistry will undergo a similar process to create courses geared towards students and the ever-changing nature of science.

NGSS Biology teacher Jeffrey Underwood believes from his experiences with the curriculum this year that changing the courses will only benefit students and make them better prepared.

“I think it’s going to affect our students in a very positive way because up until this point science classes have been about just shooting you guys a bunch of facts, then you have to memorize those facts, then you have to regurgitate those facts but those aren’t the types of thinkers that we need,” Underwood said. “So NGSS is actually designed to get you guys thinking in an inquiry based way, which means experimenting coming up with some of your own ideas and producing cool things.”

Purvines states that NGSS was a state adopted program that schools are now trying to increase the science knowledge versus the college prep course that has students just learning NGSS gives kids the opportunity for a more hands on science.

With Purvines’ teaching experience he has the accessibility to greatly improve the science courses. Purvines believes it is going to take cooperation, experimentation and time for NGSS to find its place in RJUHSD.

“[NGSS] is about good instruction, and good projects for students and trying to get teachers across the district to work together and have some good teacher voice along with adopting the new standards,” Purvines said. “It’s a big shift so it’s going to take some time to do well.”