Allentown high schools add personal finance and 4 new language courses

Allentown high schools add personal finance and 4 new language courses

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — New courses are coming to high schools in the Allentown School District, with the hope that they will connect students to new careers and new cultures.

Thirteen half-credit courses and four one-credit courses will be added over the next two school years, including Arabic, French, Mandarin Chinese and American Sign Languages.

All but Mandarin are proposed for the 2024-2025 school year, while Mandarin is proposed for 2025-2026.

The language expansion adds Spanish, German and English as second language course offerings.

We also add a highly sought-after personal financial literacy course and courses designed to provide specific career opportunities, such as video and media production, EMT certification, robotics engineering and fashion design.

The Allentown school board approved the proposed curriculum update at Thursday’s meeting. Officials say the additions will be considered in the upcoming 2024-2025 budget.

Board members heard a presentation about additions to the program from Melissa Smith, executive director of learning and teaching. At the end of the discussion, board members spoke enthusiastically about the prospects of the new courses and the opportunities they could offer students.

Birks Allentown

Jay Bradley


Allentown Schools Superintendent Carol Birks with attorney Jeffrey T. Sultanik during Thursday’s meeting.

“I feel like we’re going to be on the map now,” school board member LaTarsha Brown said. “Now we’re competitive with what charter schools and other schools are doing around here. So I expect to see a lot of students come back to the district. It’s really exciting.”

Additions fueled by community feedback

Superintendent Carol Birks said the administration is “aggressively recruiting” to help meet the demands of teachers in the new classes.

“We are so excited about all these great opportunities for our students,” Birks said. “We are reimagining the district together so that our students have equitable access to exciting new technologies and innovations.

“I have to commend my team. They are doing a lot of hard work, researching and coming up with ideas to give our kids, all the amazing resources they deserve.”

The changes follow a survey of 1,875 high school students, focus group work and gathering feedback from staff this school year.

Two courses of cultural interest have been added, expressly citing the results of the investigations. 72% of students surveyed were interested in a Latin American studies course, while 43% were interested in an African American studies course – both were added.

A major focus, school district officials say, was parents’ desire for their children to be bilingual and multilingual.

Other priorities are skills for personal finance management and financial decision making and increased opportunities for practical career knowledge. The Pennsylvania Department of Education will require this course to be established by the 2026-2027 school year.

“These are the courses they requested, we interviewed them, we conducted focus groups and this is what they told us they want as part of their learning experiences,” Birks said.

College credits for dual enrollment are enhanced

Many college credit opportunities for dual enrollment at Lehigh Carbon Community College have also been added in the new plan. While there are some additional costs for students, with the cost per credit generally set at $70, this allows students to graduate with transferable college credits.

Among the language courses are College German 1, Elementary Spanish I and II, and American Sign Language I will be offered as dual enrollment college courses with LCCC.

Allentown City Hall, Allentown Arts Park, Lehigh County Jail, Jail, Allentown Center City, Lehigh Valley, Allentown School District

Donna S. Fisher



This is the Allentown School District Administration Building in Allentown

Industrial mathematics, intermediate algebra, fundamentals of biology, introduction to environmental science, U.S. history since Reconstruction, and Western Civilization have also been added to the list, along with a number of electives in business, health, and programming.

Introductions to Communication and Speech, Literacy and Comprehension 2, Calculus, Anatomy, Anthropology, Psychology 2, Mental Health and Wellness, French Language and Culture, American Sign Language 1, 2, and 3, and Environmental Science will also be added to the virtual campus. offers.

Some name changes – such as the parenting course which has become child growth and development – have also been included in the official programming list.

The full list of courses added includes:

Social Sciences:

  • Latin American Studies (optional, 0.5 credits)
  • African American Studies (optional, 0.5 credits)


  • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Basic Course (Grade 12, Elective, 1.0 Credits, Partner with Allentown Emergency Services)

Business and technology

  • Personal financial literacy (optional, 0.5 credits)
  • Architectural Drawing and Design (grades 10-12, optional, 0.5 credits)
  • Robotics Engineering (grades 10-12, optional, 0.5 credits)
  • Elements of electrical education (grades 10-12, optional, 0.5 credits)
  • Production of video multimedia content (grades 10-12, optional, 0.5 credits)


  • Business Writing (optional, 0.5 credits)
  • Digital literacy (optional, 0.5 credits)

Languages ​​of the world

  • Introduction to American Sign Language (optional, 0.5 credits)
  • Arabic I (optional, 1.0 credits)
  • French I (optional, 1.0 credits)
  • Mandarin Chinese I (optional, 1.0 credits)

Related arts

  • Fashion Design (optional, 0.5 credits)
  • Sports Performance PE (9-12 optional, 0.5 credits)

The full list of course revisions and additions can be viewed here.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *