Information processing, a technical computing class, will no longer be a graduation requirement at Northwest Suburban High School District 214, the board decided on Thursday, a move several teachers and the union leadership opposed.
The change was approved as part of the academic handbook and curriculum changes for the 2013-2014 school year. District officials said the move was in an effort to give students more options when building their schedules.
Information processing will now be considered an elective course.
Superintendent Dave Schuler said another reason for the change is that the technological skills of students have increased over the years. The course was originally created in the early 1990s when the school began a major technology initiative and it was important to introduce students to computers. Now almost every student has a smartphone or a laptop of their own, Schuler said.
Teachers, however, said that perception is not what they've been seeing in the classrooms.
Karen Roberts, who teaches the course at Buffalo Grove High School, described her own 8th grade daughter who can use an iPhone, but not Microsoft Excel. Roberts said that without the course requirement, too few students will take the class and many will miss out on important skills beyond email and Facebook.
"Our students are not coming in as well prepared as many people believe," she said. "If we eliminate the requirement, we'll never see these kids and they won't get the skills that will help them in high school, college and at jobs."
Education Association President Jim Arey asked the board to table the decision until there could be further discussion about the need for the class or changing what's taught in the class, but the board unanimously approved the change on Thursday.
Dan Vesper, who teaches the class at Hersey High School, disputed the need for more options, saying information technology is already being taught over the summer to help students free up their schedules. He added that in today's world, students need the course more, not less.
"The district should listen to it's own decision from 1991," Vesper said referring to when the course was first implemented. "Back then, technology was becoming a part of the students' lives, now it is their lives and they need to know how to use it effectively."