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Education

Torrey Pines, La Costa Canyon brainstorm ways to attract more students in selection process

Torrey Pines High School and La Costa Canyon are in the process of looking at bell schedules and programs to address some of the enrollment shifts the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) has seen. In August, the board decided not to change its open enrollment process for its four high schools and instead to have the district focus its efforts on program enhancements and equity among the schools.

At the district’s Oct. 1 meeting, Associate Superintendent Mike Grove said Torrey Pines and LCC have been gathering feedback from students, staff and parents and are close to what they would like to propose to the district. Grove said he expects the school board to hear proposals by early November, as the district would like any potential changes to be in place before the high school selection process.

The high school selection window opens Jan. 4, 2016 and closes Feb. 1, 2016.

The bell schedules have been cited as one of the main reasons why students opt to attend the SDUHSD academies — Canyon Crest and San Dieguito — over Torrey Pines and La Costa.

The new bell schedules being studied give students the option to take more than six classes. Students at CCA and San Dieguito can take up to eight classes.

Grove said an instructional-minutes analysis is required to make sure that the schools are meeting their yearly and daily minimums.

On the program side, Grove said each site has established a committee to brainstorm program options that might attract incoming students. Some initial ideas are developing curricular pathways for subjects such as computer science and engineering, advance manufacturing, green building, bio-medical and bio-tech engineering. These career-specific pathways would include courses that fulfill basic University of California requirements.

The sites are also exploring diploma programs such as International Baccalaureate (IB) and AP Capstone, which allow students to engage in “rigorous scholarly practice” to develop academic skills necessary for success in college and beyond. The programs require students to pass a certain number of AP courses and complete a research project.

Grove said with diploma programs, the district has to consider the cost — IB, in particular, involves some start-up costs for professional development in the neighborhood of $50,000 to $100,000.

Other options the sites are considering include dual language immersion and creating spaces for project-based learning and “maker spaces.”

Any shift in curricular programs takes a lot of research, Grove said, as they want to ensure the programs are high quality and represent what is best for the school.