Curriculum and Instruction
Rigor and relevance are areas of focus across all academies and courses, along with literacy and comprehension. Instructional strategies focus on student engagement, authentic learning, and connections where appropriate, to specific adacemy career pathways across that academy’s curriculum. The school follows the state’s curriculum guidelines and the district orders textbooks for every course. In each academy, teachers of required core courses will use the same texts, address the same standards, and give the same interim assessments. However, great care is taken to place teachers in an academy where they have relevant experience. For instance, a social studies teacher with a music background infuses music into the core curriculum in the Fine Arts Academy. Retired veterans teach social studies in the Government Academy, which includes JROTC, and bring their experiences to bear as they teach students interested in careers in the military.
The school’s Transition Team works with the feeder schools to identify incoming struggling students. Support for at-risk students begins with establishing relationships through meetings between individual students and their families and a member of the Transition Team prior to enrolling in the high school and again once the school year begins. A foundational math course is offered in lieu of coordinated algebra (Algebra I) for students identified from 8th-grade data as lacking math skills. This course is offered on an A/B schedule to allow students to study math throughout the school year. These students will then pick up coordinated algebra as sophomores and continue the math sequence.
Camden has partnered with local colleges to offer juniors and seniors an opportunity to participate in the Accel program, which offers students the opportunity to earn credit hours toward an Associate or Baccalaureate Degree as they simultaneously meet their high school graduation requirements as Dual Credit Enrollment students. The Georgia Move on When Ready Program (dual/joint enrollment) was established during the 2004 school year and is funded and administered by the Georgia Student Finance Commission. Camden students may also take advantage of several additional state programs supporting students seeking technical certificates or diplomas, early-college opportunities, and opportunities to earn college credit through statewide course assessments. For instance, the local technical college offers Camden students four credit- and certificate-conferring programs, including electrical line work, health, criminal justice, and welding, with most of the coursework actually offered at the high school. Approximately 18% of the student body is enrolled in at least one AP course.
Students with IEPs are mainstreamed and their support teacher pushes into their classes. There is a self-contained program serving developmentally delayed students. The special education coordinator notes that several students with IEPs are enrolled in AP classes and are treated with the same level of expectation as their peers. The creation of small learning communities has made it easier for the special education teachers to communicate with their general education partners, and the organization of the small learning communities into career academies has not only engaged and motivated special education students, but has also opened up productive post-secondary opportunities to them.
Students need 28 credits to graduate (each credit representing at least 135 hours of seat time) and have the chance to earn as many as 32. The block schedule provides opportunities for students to complete graduation requirements a semester early. Course requirements include four core credits each in language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. There is also one required credit of PE, a minimum of three credits of CTE, and eight additional elective credits, including two in world languages.
During the Freshman Academy, students can select from a range of career academy introductory courses before entering a career academy as sophomores and taking electives specific to that career path. A career day each spring exposes 9th-graders to the opportunities offered by each academy.
Once students are enrolled in a career academy, they are assigned an advisor, who is a teacher from that academy with a caseload of about 20 students. The advisor stays with those students until they graduate. In addition to meeting with the advisory weekly, the advisor is informed by guidance staff and the retention specialist so they can keep tabs on the attendance and grades of each advisee. The advisor communicates with family, steers advisees to tutoring and other resources as appropriate, and meets with advisees and their families to design a program every year that meets the individual advisee’s needs. Embedded within the school’s 4x4 block schedule is an A/B schedule allowing students to earn eight credits a year, with a one-credit course completed within a semester. Typically, two core courses and two elective courses are taken each semester; however, students can enroll in more core courses. For students in danger of failing a course, a nine-week “extended learning” component, built into the student’s schedule, provides one-on-one and small-group tutoring and support.
Camden Course Requirements
||9th-grade Literature, 10th-grade Literature, American Literature, British/Multicultural Literature
||Coordinated Algebra (or Coordinated Algebra with Coordinated Algebra Support), Analytic Geometry with Analytic Geometry Support, Advanced Algebra, Pre-Calculus (or 7 other math equivalents)
||4 credits: option I or II
||Option I: Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry (or Environmental Science) and 1 other Science
Option II: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, 1 Other Science
||World History, American Government, Economics
||3 credits focused on a program of study
||8 electives (2 should be World Languages if planning to attend a 4-year college)
|Total credits required
In 2012, the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), a statewide accountability system, replaced the Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) measurement tool used as part of the No Child Left Behind Act. Camden County High School scored an 80.9 and ranked 17th out of 186 schools districts in Georgia.
Two years later, Camden scored an 86.5 on the CCRPI, placing it third among the 186 Georgia school districts and among the top 1 percent of schools in the state. In math, all students take unit assessments created by teachers that are targeted to assess them at the same level as the state end-of-course exam.