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American high school classes question

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Here in Canada (at least, when I was in high school--I'm pretty sure it's still the same), certain classes can be taken in different years depending on student preferences, as long as there's no immediate prerequisite.  e.g., you have to take 11th grade math before 12th grade math, but certain history courses are labeled as "12" courses and only require you have 10th grade history, so you can take them in your grade 11 year if you want.

Is it the same in the US?  I'd like to have a situation where my MC's friend is taking a class now that my MC took the year before (they're both presently seniors).  Would this be normal or weird?
#1 - August 01, 2013, 10:39 AM
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I think you can make that work easily. There are so many different ways of designing a curriculum that you should be able to make almost anything believable.  English tends to be divided by grade level, but math definitely is skill-based--regular kids might start Algebra I, for example, as 7th graders, 8th graders or 9th graders, and proceed with the sequence from that point on.

Do you need the class to be in a particular department?
#2 - August 01, 2013, 10:49 AM
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It'd be American history.
#3 - August 01, 2013, 10:51 AM
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In our school district, history is more like English, in that the classes are done by grade--all ninth-graders take World History, all 11th graders take American history, etc.  But once again, schools are so different across the US that I think you could make most things believable.  If nothing else, perhaps the school allowed to wait to take American history until senior year because of a schedule conflict.  ???

Is your book set in a particular town?  If so, perhaps you should look at that school's curriculum (not that most readers would care as long as it's believable).
#4 - August 01, 2013, 10:54 AM
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SUNNY'S TOW TRUCK SAVES THE DAY (Abrams)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
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I looked up some history classes for research, and found many different variations. I think you can make it work the way you have it.
#5 - August 01, 2013, 10:58 AM
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Excellent, thanks!  I don't name the city the book takes place in, so that gives me a fair bit of wiggle room.  :)
#6 - August 01, 2013, 11:07 AM
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In California it literally varies from one school district to another. My kids' had a similar one to Anne Marie's. If the town is fictional, just look at a few (different) school districts in the general location, and make sure there are no state requirements that would make it an impossible scenario. Most school districts list this sort of information on their websites, sometimes in PDF form. Most towns/locations will list the school district they're in as part of the real-estate info. Most states list their requirements also, on their department of Education sites.
Just a few clicks will give you a plausible plan...
#7 - August 01, 2013, 11:40 AM
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It could work for science classes, because as a senior (at least in NJ) you have options about which classes to take, such as Physics or Environmental and a junior could take these as well. If you use history, you should (as someone recommended) check the state requirements. NJ is very specific about the order of history classes and requires 2 years of US history (9th and 10th) before world history in 11th grade. So that wouldn't work for your scenario if set in NJ. Maybe you could choose an elective like Psychology or an art class because those can generally be filled in junior or senior year and wouldn't be state-curriculum dependent.

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#8 - August 10, 2013, 07:49 AM
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I agree to check on the state curriculum.

I think in NYS, all 9th graders have to take the 9th grade state exam for English and Social Studies, ditto for grades 10, 11 and 12. So it might depend on which state the book takes place in.

The character might be able to take AP (college level) American History AND the regular 12th grade history class in grade 12. Or they might be able to take the college level class and skip the regular one, but they'd still have to take the regular state final exam in June whether or not they took the class.

Or the student could be graduating early and taking the 11 and 12 grade classes and exams in the same year.

Many permutations! Check with the state for accuracy. :)
#9 - August 10, 2013, 08:05 AM
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My kids went to private Catholic School, and while there are certain requirements to meet the state mandated curriculum, there is a lot of variation within those requirements.  While the student must take a certain number of math, science and English classes, one kid might be in ecology, while another is in inorganic chemistry in the same year.  I know this because my daughter tried to take microbiology or inorganic chemistry as a junior, but the number of kids wanting these classes was too low to make a class, so she was initially placed in ecology.  She had a fit (according to her, that's the class the kids who aren't good in science take, to get the requirement out of the way), and managed to take anatomy. I believe the math classes work the same way.   I think they have to take U.S. History, but it can be taken as a junior or a senior.   Same with Government.  And of course AP Gov or AP U.S. History is an option.  There may be more variation because it's a private school, but they do meet all the state requirements.
#10 - August 10, 2013, 08:51 AM
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