The NCAA Eligibility Center has refused to accept Curriculum 2 courses from Newton South High School, near Boston. Curriculum 2 is a series of slower-paced courses that the school nonetheless argues should be accepted as core courses for initial eligibility.
“Nobody has come to me to say, ‘Here’s evidence that your Curriculum 2 is subpar,’” [Newton South principal Joel] Stembridge said. “We’re saying it’s taught at a different level, but it’s taught at a college prep level.”
The NCAA does often accept slower-paced courses. A common example is with Algebra 1. Typically, the course is taught over one school year, meaning students receive .5 credits per semester or 1 credit for the full year. Many schools offer Algebra 1 taught over a student’s freshman and sophomore year. The course is typically numbered Algebra 1A, 1B, 1C, and 1D. In that case, each semester is worth .25 credits, and it takes both years for the student to earn 1 credit.
What the NCAA is saying is that Newton South’s Curriculum 2 courses are either so slow or cover so little material that they do not rise to the level of being college preparatory. Remedial courses, for example, do not earn core course credits for a student.
It is notable that Newton South’s Curriculum 2 courses in math and Spanish have been approved while courses in English, science, and social studies have not. Spanish 1 is a very basic course in all cases, and math has a more defined level it must be taught at (Algebra 1 or above). There is a little more leeway in what is considered a college prep English, science, or social studies course, at least according to the NCAA. Journalism is sometimes accepted by the NCAA as a core course in English, as is “Film as Literature” courses.
Newton South is continuing to work with the NCAA on the courses, but has expressed some of the common frustrations with the core course approval process. At least the school is watching out for the athletes by moving them to higher level courses and getting them tutors to help with the increased academic load.