Computer literacy requirement to be dropped

By Alex Nakagawa

Assoc. Sports Editor

Underclassmen at South Pasadena High School will no longer be required to take the computer applications class as a graduation requirement. The South Pasadena School Board voted unanimously at the Tuesday, January 27 meeting to remove computer literacy as a graduation requirement beginning with the Class of 2016. The course will still be offered as an elective.

The current computer applications class covers basic computer skills for high school, teaching skills such as word processing, video editing, and Internet safety, over the course of one semester. The board reasoned that the overall increase in computer literacy among students made the class less necessary for success in high school.

Supt. of Schools Dr. Geoff Yantz cited in his argument that the top ten school districts in California  do not require computer literacy classes for graduation.

“The new Common Core standards that are in place require that the use of technology is integrated in every subject matter,” Yantz said. “However, if we remove the class as a requirement, it would provide more opportunity to implement other programs.”

Investigation by Yantz revealed that 71 percent of students who enrolled in and passed the class were juniors and seniors. According to Yantz, this meant that the majority of students successfully operated computer programs before taking the class, and enrolled solely to fulfill the graduation requirement.

“Computer Apps is just not a realistic expectation if a majority of the students that take it are juniors and seniors,” school board clerk Dr. Richard Sonner said.

Several teachers attended the board meeting to argue in favor of keeping the class as a graduation requirement.

In a public comment, chemistry teacher Mr. Benjamin Ku recalled a specific lab report that he assigned to his freshman and sophomore students. Roughly a third of the students had elected to type the report, but many of those typed reports had numerous errors, according to Ku.

“I want to be able to challenge my students to manipulate information and present graphs in a professional way,” Ku said. “But if my students lack the computer literacy skills to do so, it is very hard to get past that.”

The nine computer apps courses offered for the 2014-2015 school year are not affected by the decision, and no district employees will lose their jobs as a result of the removal. The course will still be offered as a part of the South Pasadena Educational Foundation’s Summer School curriculum.