Redeveloped honors music courses are nearing official placement in Plano ISD 2020-21 course catalogs.

Juniors and seniors will be able to choose between honors and nonhonors music courses in the same way they decide between core class honors, according to Kathy Kuddes, PISD's director of fine arts.

“A student going into the 11th grade will have the option to choose an on-level music experience or an advanced level music experience based on the specific design of the course and the level of which they want to engage in that instruction,” Kuddes said.

The honors courses have been redesigned to fit the standards of the new GPA evaluation tool adopted in June. Individual lessons will stem from an additional emphasis on four areas: proficiency of advanced repertoire, advanced technical skills, advanced theory and aural skills, and critical performance evaluation.

“Students in the honors course will now be asked to curate a personal portfolio of work samples that will include advanced-level performance samples, differentiated theory and aural skills assessment appropriate to their individual ensembles, and a variety of written performance and valuations of both their own performances, and those professional award collegiate ensembles,” Kuddes said.

Senior students will also be required to work with their directors to design a personal study project that focuses on a musical topic.

“The students on the revised GPA system are currently ninth-graders,” Katrina Hasley, PISD's assistant superintendent of academic services. “No one has missed out on an opportunity to take the honors courses in music 11th and 12th grade.”

The honors classes will also no longer exclude “co-seating” to meet the requirements of a school policy that has been in place for more than 10 years, according to Hasley.

Kuddes and Hasley shared an update on the courses at a board meeting Oct. 1. In months prior to the meeting, fine arts staff gathered for three work sessions and reviewed course models from the National Association for Music Education, International Baccalaureate and other school districts.

The newly developed courses will now go through review and revision by the new course committee before being finalized and placed in the 2020-21 course catalog. Teachers will then receive professional learning training on the new courses before classes for the 2020-21 school year begin.