New 2023-24 courses to enhance postsecondary readiness


On Oct. 17, the District 203 school board approved two new courses for the 2023-2024 school year: a new Algebra 2 course and a Career Internship course. The courses will provide students at Naperville North and Naperville Central with a new mathematics curriculum and an opportunity to explore paths of interest after high school.

Algebra 2: Modeling and Problem Solving will include much of the same content covered in traditional Algebra 2 courses such as quadratic functions and probability, but will place additional emphasis on mathematical modeling. The class is designed to better prepare students for careers in finance, business, health, data science, social studies, liberal arts, communications and technical education. 

The new math class will also prepare students for careers beyond traditional STEM-related fields, according to Timothy Brown, chair of the mathematics department at NNHS.

“The idea of Algebra 2 as it is now is going to be more of a STEM pathway, so students who might be interested in science, math or engineering might want to focus on that. But that’s not for everyone. Students who might want a non-STEM field might be interested in humanities, business or arts, but obviously still need to fulfill math requirements, would now take this [new course],” Brown said.

The Career Internship course will be a blended class offered to juniors and seniors. Students interested in taking this course must be 16 years of age or older, have completed at least two semesters of career pathway coursework and commit between 10 to 15 hours each week in their respective field and fill out the program’s designated application. 

Students enrolled in the course will be able to engage in on-the-job training within their field of interest, while being paired with a mentor to guide them through adjusting to the workplace environment. Along with completing on-the-job tasks in an authentic workplace setting, students will be graded on classroom performance and instruction. 

NNHS Assistant Principal Carrie Ray says that this new addition to the CTE department will expand upon and enrich the current learning experience and career readiness opportunities offered at NNHS. 

“[Students] will have a mentor to help them with communication and decision-making, and this is really an opportunity to mimic what it will be like in the workplace, which is something that we don’t really have,” Ray said.

The district aims to make this course available to students at both NNHS and NCHS. According to Ray, transportation measures will be put in place to either school if there are not enough students at one site that are interested in the course to make it available to all eligible students.

The excitement for the Career Internship course extends beyond administration, though. NNHS junior Lily Vicik explains that it is often difficult to find professional shadow opportunities outside of school and that she thinks this course will make this process more accessible. 

“It sounds really interesting just because it’s hard to find a shadow opportunity. It will help me have a better idea of what the field is like,” Vicik said.

The addition of the new Algebra 2 and Career Internship course in District 203 follows a national trend of centralized efforts on career exploration and postsecondary readiness in public schools. Most recently, in 2016, The Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act (PWR) was signed into law in Illinois. The act outlines four strategies that establish expectations for school districts to amplify postsecondary readiness amongst students in the state: Postsecondary and Career Expectations, College and Career Pathway Endorsements, Transitional Instruction and the Pilot of Competency-Based High School Graduation Requirements. Following the implementation of the PWR on May 27, 2022, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Public Act 102-0917 into law. 

The act furthers the expansion of the Illinois Postsecondary and Career Expectations (PaCE) and the College and Career Pathway Endorsement (CCPE) career readiness frameworks at the local level and considers institutions for opting out only after taking several factors, including cost and availability to collaborate with local businesses, into consideration.

Executive Director of Communications for District 203 Alexander Mayster said that the district believes the new courses serve as an extension of the district’s mission to prepare students for life beyond high school while offering varying learning styles to accommodate all students. 

“These courses will give kids the ability to learn in different ways, in the ways that best fit them, and in ways that best prepare them for the future,” Mayster said. 

Bella Nordman contributed to this story.