Frequently Asked Questions

Curriculum & Instruction Frequently Asked Questions (29 Questions)

1. ELL/ESL: How are students identified for ESL services?

Students are tested with the W-APT screener in order to determine eligibility

2. ELL/ESL: How is English language learning related to NCLB?

NCLB (No Child Left Behind) requires adequately yearly progress across all student populations, which allows particular attention to the needs of ELLs, who may have particular difficulty demonstrating progress in an English-only curriculum.

3. ELL/ESL: What is ACCESS?

ACCESS is the Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State to State tests that ELLs take every spring.

4. ELL/ESL: What is the difference between ESL and ELL?

(ESL) English as a Second Language: A course used to teach English to students whose first language is not English.

(ELL)English Language Learner: A person who has been identified as having levels of English language proficiency which preclude the student from accessing, processing, and acquiring unmodified grade level content in English thus qualifying for ESL support services.

5. Fine Arts: Are the Fine Arts required for graduation?

Yes, one-half unit of Fine Arts credit is required in music, visual arts, theatre, or dance. This credit can be earned in grades 9-12. Please see the school counselor for further information.

6. Fine Arts: Are there monetary costs related to participating in Fine Arts coursework?

Yes, some courses have costs related to the purchase or rental of equipment. Please see the school counselor for further information.

7. Fine Arts: Does cheerleading, flag corps, or dance team fulfill this requirement?

No, the credit must be earned in music, visual arts, theatre, or dance courses offered by the school system. Please see the school counselor for further information.

8. Fine Arts: How does participation in the Fine Arts impact student achievement?

Research indicates that students who participate in arts coursework tend to out perform students who do not by 8% on the SAT/ACT.
(Reference: College Entrance Examination Board).

9. Physical Ed: Is an elementary classroom teacher certified to teach physical education?

Yes, but to teach his/her class only.

10. Physical Ed: Is physical education required for all students in Grades K-8?

Yes. The Code of Alabama, 1975, §16-40-1 requires every public and private school (except church schools) to offer physical education in accordance with the physical education program outlined by the Alabama Department of Education. Other courses (e.g., band, academic courses) may not substitute.

11. Physical Ed: May K-8 physical education teachers teach health and physical education on alternate days?

No. Although a physical education teacher may teach health, if certified, physical education must be taught for a minimum of 30 minutes daily.

12. Physical Ed: May students with disabilities be exempted from physical education?

No. The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act clearly states that handicapped students need physical education and that the LEA must be responsible for providing developmentally appropriate physical education for the student.

13. Physical Ed: What are the time requirements for physical education classes in Grades K-8?

Every student in Grades K-8 must have a minimum of 30 minutes of physical education daily, not to include lunch or recess.

14. Secondary Math: Can I get credit for Algebra I in high school if I already took it in middle school?

No. Students who pass Algebra I in middle school may not take it again in high school. Alabama students must enroll in Algebra I (or Algebra 1A) no later than the ninth grade. Students who pass Algebra I in the eighth grade are awarded a Carnegie unit that counts toward the requirements for graduation. This course cannot be repeated for an additional credit at the senior high level.

15. Secondary Math: I am a parent. How can I help my secondary student to be successful on the mathematics portion of the SAT-10, ARMT, and/or AHSGE?

There are many ways that you can support your students as he/she prepares for the statewide assessments in mathematics.

  • Talk to your student about the standardized tests. Help him/her understand that skills that are learned in his/her current math class will be evaluated throughout the secondary grades.
  • Discuss your student's ideas about a future career. If his/her school allows him/her to choose elective courses, work with your child to choose courses that will better prepare him/her for the graduation requirements and career choices.
  • Stress the importance of attending school every day.
  • Monitor your student's progress by talking with his/her teachers regularly.
  • Make sure your student has a regular place, with few distractions, for doing homework. Make sure that your child gets homework completed each night.
  • Help your student understand - and stay focused on - the graduation requirements.
  • If your student is struggling academically, talk to his/her teachers and counselors immediately about how to help your child. Involve him/her in the planning of how to get back on track. Every school has resources available for remediation, if needed.
  • If your student works after school, make sure that the hours spent at a part-time job do not negatively impact his/her academic success. Have him/her arrange to be off during the week of testing.
  • Find out when the standardized tests will be given and make sure you see your student's scores when the results are released.
  • Expect your student to succeed in school!


16. Secondary Math: I am a parent. How do I know if my child is ready to take Pre-Algebra in the seventh grade?

Students enrolling in Pre-Algebra prior to the eighth grade are required to demonstrate mastery of Math 6 content standards in two ways. The grades from the classroom teacher as well as a test given to determine readiness for Pre-Algebra are evaluated. Consult with your child's teacher for more information.

17. Secondary Math: What can I do for extra help in my math class?

You have many resources available to you.

Class Notes

Review the notes you took in class for the day. You may have examples that are different from those in the book. If your class has warm-up or starter exercises, those may also be helpful.


Your textbook is a source of exercises, but there are also examples and explanations in the main part of the section. Read over what you find there. Look at diagrams and side notes for hints and applications.

Try More Exercises

Do some of the odd exercises and check your answers in the back of the book. Try working out the examples in the book or re-doing the ones in the class notes. See if you can do them correctly without looking at the answer first. Parents may help by copying such exercises without the solution to make a mini-worksheet for practice.

Draw a Picture

Sketch a picture, graph, or diagram to help you organize your thinking. This is especially helpful for word problems. On the other hand, make a diagram or flow chart that outlines the steps for exercises that follow multi-step procedures.

Ask for Help

Talk to your parents/guardians, siblings, or maybe a friendly neighbor. They may be able to show you how to do a few exercises or may be able to help you understand the explanations in your textbook. You can also call a friend from class. They may be able to give you some hints over the phone.

Study Group

Organize a group of students from your class to meet a day or two before a test or quiz. Work on homework and review the main ideas together.

Internet Resources

There are many good web sites for support in learning math. You may use a search engine such as to find a site that relates to your difficulty. Your teacher or your textbook may offer a list of websites.

Your Teacher

Of course, your math teacher is an excellent source for help. Check with your teacher to find the best times for help and/or to set up an appointment.

18. Secondary Math: What is the mathematics portion of the Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE) like?

The mathematics subject-area test consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. The portion of the AHSGE requires students to perform basic operations of algebraic expressions, to solve equations and inequalities, to apply concepts related to functions, to apply formulas (while being supplied the formula), to apply graphing techniques, to represent problem situations, and to solve problems involving a variety of algebraic and geometric concepts. A page of formulas will be included in each test booklet. Calculators will be provided for each student although a calculator is not needed in order to solve the problems. The state-provided calculator is a four-function calculator with percent, +/-, and square root keys. Each key performs a single function. Approximately 75% of the test is Algebra I content and 25% of the test is introductory geometry content from the curriculum of the middle grade courses.

19. Secondary Math: What is the mathematics portion of the Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test (ARMT) like?

Alabama students in grades 3 - 8 demonstrate mathematics proficiency on two statewide assessments: Stanford-10 (SAT-10) and Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test (ARMT). Selected multiple-choice items from the SAT-10 are used in conjunction with the ARMT items to determine students' mastery of content standards. There are three types of items included on the ARMT: multiple-choice, gridded-response, and open-ended items. Multiple-choice items and gridded-response items carry a point value of one, while open-ended items carry a point value of three. The number of items on the mathematics subject-area test of the ARMT varies from 50 - 64 depending on the grade level being tested.

20. Secondary Math: What math class should I take next year?

There are some options for course selection in the senior high mathematics curriculum. To decide which math course is best for you, you must first answer some questions. For example, what math class are you taking now? How are you doing in that class? Do you like math? Have you met the prerequisites for the course you think that you want to take next year? Do you want to take an honors course? What does your overall class schedule look like for next year?

You should talk to your current math teacher to see what he or she recommends for you. Your teacher is your best resource. Students should also refer to the Course Description Booklet when selecting courses. Pay attention to the listed prerequisites and the information about course sequencing.

21. Secondary Math: Where can I get more information about math courses?

There are a number of sources for more information.

Ask your current teacher or any member of the mathematics department.

Refer to the Curriculum Frameworks and Pacing Guides located on this website.

Talk to your counselor.

Consult the Alabama State Department of Education's website ( to view the Course of Study for Mathematics. This publication includes information about course sequencing as well as the required content for mathematics for K-12.

22. Secondary Social Studies: Is Alabama History included in the required curriculum for students in Grades 9-12?

Yes. Content from Alabama History is embedded within social studies courses taught in these grades (United States History to 1877, United States History From 1877 to the Present, and United States Government). There is no required Alabama History course for students in Grades 9-12.

23. Secondary Social Studies: May any one-credit social studies course be divided to allow one half of its content to be covered in one year and the other half during a second year for a total of two credits?

No. The course content of a one-credit social studies course, as prescribed by the newAlabama Course of Study: Social Studies, is designed for 140 clock hours of instruction. A course may only be taught in two parts for two credits if so stipulated in the course of study. (Any deviation would require an exemption from the State Superintendent of Education.)

24. Secondary Social Studies: May school systems continue to offer Advanced Placement American History and Advanced Placement European History?

Yes. However, the eligible content for the graduation examination must be taught by the spring of the student's eleventh-grade year.

25. Secondary Social Studies: May school systems that are on block scheduling offer tenth-grade United States History during the first semester and eleventh-grade United States History during the second semester?

Yes. School systems may allow students to take two history courses in one year if they choose to do so and if the purpose is to allow students to take additional social studies or other electives in high school. (There is no necessity for school systems to make this provision in order to allow early graduation from high school.)

26. Secondary Social Studies: May the two semester grades for United States Government and Economics be averaged to determine successful completion of the twelfth-grade social studies requirement (one credit)?

No. A student must earn a passing grade for each of the two courses specified as requirements for Grade 12. These are separate courses. However, all other social studies required yearly courses necessitate the averaging of two semester grades for one course grade.

27. Secondary Social Studies: The twelfth-grade Social Studies course is listed as one credit. Is this a departure from two courses—one in United States Government and a second in Economics?

No. As prescribed in the Social Studies Course of Study document, one-half credit will be granted upon completion of United States Government; and one-half credit will be granted upon completion of Economics. All other required course credits in Grades 9-12 are one-credit courses, not ½-credit courses.

28. Secondary Social Studies: What constitutes required content for instruction from the social studies course of study?

Required instruction for social studies includes content standards, bullets, and examples.

29. Secondary Social Studies: What is a suggested sequence for instruction if a system offers both Advanced Placement American History and Advanced Placement European History?

Advanced Placement American History may be offered in the tenth grade. This would ensure that the eligible content for theAlabama High School Graduation Examinationis covered during the same scholastic year that it is covered in the regular American History course taken by other tenth-grade students. Advanced Placement European History may be offered in the eleventh grade so as to strengthen students' knowledge of the world wars.