Berkeley High renames, revamps a small school

Berkeley High School. Photo: Lance Knobel

Berkeley High School is renaming and reconfiguring one of its so-called small schools, the Community Partnerships Academy. From next September, CPA will metamorphose into the Academy of Medical and Public Service (AMPS).

CPA’s current program is distinguished by internships with local non-profit organizations, engineering, biotech, IT, government and health institutions. AMPS will also have an intership program. The revised course offerings include a renewed focus on science with Forensic Science, Chemistry, Biological Health Science, and either an AP science elective, ROP Sports Medicine or Emergency Medical Careers. The Public Service pathway will have a new elective offering, Psychology/Sociology.

“We are extremely pleased with the evolution and new direction of one of our schools and the new pathways that the Academy of Medicine and Public Service will provide,” said Principal Pasquale Scuderi in the statement announcing the change. “With multiple analysts projecting the most notable job growth to be in health care fields over the next decade, we believe that our efforts will yield a curriculum that is relevant and applicable to the world our students will enter into upon graduation.”

Berkeley High students are in one of six “small learning communities”. Academic Choice and Berkeley International High School are the two largest programs. In addition to AMPS, the other schools are the Green Academy (formerly the School of Social Justice and Ecology), Communication Arts and Sciences (CAS), and Arts and Humanities Academy (AHA).

The small schools were established in 2003, with help from a $1 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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  • vfadfadf

    I wonder if they will still give A’s and B’s for just showing up. 

  • jjohannson

    I hope this means more lab time, whether on-site or via the internships.  Could be a savvy way for kids to get more bench work in…

  • guest

    The Gates Foundation did not give any money to support the small schools after the initial $1 million grant. Now the Gates Foundation says small schools don’t work. And now BHS is stuck with expensive programs that are a joke. Good luck to students in the former CPA with zero math proficiency, trying to learn AP chemistry or AP biology or AP physics.

  • Bruce Love

    It’s insidious, too, because the small school system creates stakeholders in as many courses of study as there are small schools.  Are I.B. parents, for example, going to strongly advocate for the dismantling of their small school and a reduction in curriculum options anytime soon?

    My high school did OK by (1) Grouping students into “clusters” for group social activities and for academic counseling — that helped to create the social benefit of smaller “cohorts”.  (2) Developing a strong and complete school-wide core curriculum.  (3) Having a large catalog of electives and specialized courses — but only offering a small, manageable number of them during any one term. 

    I mention this because perhaps there is a possible path of transition from the current system to something more like that that would mostly satisfy small school stakeholders.

    That arrangement allowed my HS to simplify catalog design and the bell schedule, to keep administrative costs lower, and still to (mostly) help kids not get “lost” in the potential anonymity of a big school.   There were suggested specialized tracks of electives colleges could recognize, but they were informal only.   My impression is that a lot of the more interesting electives were offered because one or a few faculty members was passionate about some subject and each was expected to help keep the pool of electives lively.   This included at least one of the AP courses I took.

  • busdparent

    I wonder where you get your information.