Academics

Advanced Learning

West Seattle High School believes that all students can succeed at high academic levels and our goal is to challenge every student to their highest potential. As a district, we are also focused on breaking down the barriers that traditionally prevented some students from having access to advanced learning opportunities. Understanding that abilities are never fixed, we believe middle school tracking should not limit high school opportunities. In addition, as our world changes, we are learning that students need more than core academic content knowledge in order to be successful. Michael Fullan, an expert on educational reform, describes the skills needed for success in the 21st Century as Collaboration, Creativity, Citizenship, Character, Critical Thinking and Communication. To build a foundation of these skills, we are providing heterogeneous groupings of students in grade 9 and in most classes in grade 10. This allows all students access to a wide range of advanced learning options; provides all students an opportunity to learn, grow and build community together; and promotes greater success for all students in high school and beyond.

West Seattle 8th Grade Night Flyer

  1. How will the new system benefit my child if he/she was previously in HCC/Spectrum?
    • In heterogeneous classes, students gain access to a broader range of students and gain more connections and associations to a larger student body.
    • There is greater opportunity for increasing student learning as the result of a more diverse range of ideas and experiences.
    • Students gain a larger sense of community, gain empathy and opportunities to challenge one’s perspectives.
    • Students can model and lead by example.
  2. How will the new system benefit my child if he/she was not in HCC/Spectrum?
    • In heterogeneous classes, students gain access to a broader range of students and gain more connections and associations to a larger student body.
    • There is greater opportunity for increasing student learning as the result of a more diverse range of ideas and experiences.
    • Students gain a larger sense of community, gain empathy and opportunities to challenge one’s perspectives.
    • Students can model and lead by example.
  3. What are some talking points with my child about the new system?
    • Preparing our students for the future is more than core academic content knowledge and as our world changes, our schools and our students need to expand our thinking about the skills our students need. Some of the skills needed for success in the 21st Century are
      Collaboration, Creativity, Citizenship, Character, Critical Thinking and Communication.
    • Building a strong community foundation with grade level peers will allow all of our students greater opportunity for success through the rest of their high school experience and beyond and expand their understanding and appreciation of our diverse community.
    • Students coming into WSHS with HC or Honors experience will be in Language Arts(LA), Social Studies(SS) and Science classes with their grade level peers. The exception is that students with HCC experience will be in a science(ChemistryB/PhysicsB) and a math(Algebra 2) class that is 2 years ahead in the standard sequence.
    • Math, World Language and any electives classes (except for 9th grade health) will have students ranging in grades 9-12.
    • Honors options for 9th grade will be available in LA and SS(2nd semester) classes. Science Honors for PhysicsA/ChemistryA is not currently an option. See details in “Content Specific Advanced Learning Pathways at WSHS” document.
  4. What will teachers do to differentiate and any other ways they will teach/manage classrooms to support success with this change
    • We are continually learning and growing in this area. Even within HC qualified students, there is a wide range of skills and abilities. We collaborate with each other and with teachers in other schools, as almost every comprehensive high school has moved to some form of embedded honors in most core academic areas in grades 9 and 10. There is a richness to a class with students who bring a range of strengths and areas of growth. We will expect students to provide deeper analysis, read more challenging text, and write using more complex language and grammar. Students pursuing honors credit in classes may have different text to read and be evaluated using different rubrics for written work and discussion-based assessments. In addition, the embedded honors is mostly in grade 9 and some in 10. In grades 11-12, students have options of taking regular or AP classes in subjects of their choosing.
    • LA, SS and Math are exploring different ways of challenging students. LA is focusing on providing students opportunities to grow and reflect on the development of 21st Century Skills for Honors credit. Social Studies is focusing on differentiating materials, skills and complexity of questions for Honors credit. Math is pursuing honors credit with a challenge project for each unit.
  5. How teachers and the school are talking about it and what they are doing to prevent/manage any social weirdness and have this be constructive and positive for all kids
    • The entire focus is on working to your best and supporting a community focused on belonging.
    • Students are choosing work at the level they choose.
    • They are not being labeled by others.
    • Students are encouraged to work at honors level.
    • It is a more inclusive environment, as there is more diversity by race, ethnicity, and skill level. Student discussion and work is enriched by the breadth of worldviews, which might not be the case in a more homogenous classroom.
    • Teachers are teaching the same content with different levels of delivery.
  6. How, why and when kids choose it The answer here is different depending on the subject area.
    • Social Studies: There is no Honors option during semester 1. At the start of World 1(second semester), students will make an official decision to choose to pursue honors credit within the first week or two of the class. Since all students will have been introduced to this concept in semester 1 Foundations, this will not be a sudden choice. Students will be required to submit a formal letter (signed by the parent) choosing to pursue this option. Students can abandon the pursuit of the honors option at any time, thus making the decision to attempt to receive honors a low-stakes decision. This will hopefully entice more students to pursue advanced academic studies. (See the official letter we have used previously and will use again.)
    • Language Arts: Students are introduced to the Honors portfolio at the beginning of the school year and then have the option to develop the portfolio over the course of each semester. The students choose to present their portfolio for Honors credit at the end of the semester.
    • Science: There is currently not an honors option available for PhysicsA/ChemistryA(9th grade science) With the recent adoption across SPS of a new science curriculum, an honors adoption has not been developed. There is worked being pursued in this area, but it is not be available for the 2019-2020 school year. We will update with any changes.
    • Math: For geometry, the honors students receive a project at the beginning of each unit that is due at the end of the unit. It must be of at least B grade quality. These projects are recorded in the grade book. For Precalculus honors involves extra homework assignments and additional more challenging material on assessments.
  7. What, if any, difference it makes on their transcript or other records
    • The “H” designation for Honors will appear on the transcript for students who have met the requirements for Honors.
    • The designation is assigned at the completion of the course and the teacher signs off on their honors credit.
    • Colleges evaluate transcripts based on what is available at any given school. Many schools across the district, state and country do not offer honors classes. Given that there are no broadly accepted standards for what “honors” means, colleges tend to focus more on student performance in Advanced Placement(AP)courses, as there are national standards built into the assessments for these classes.
    • Counselors send a school profile to colleges with student applications. This explains to colleges what courses are available and it will include an explanation of our honors program.
  8. What is the same/different about what WSHS is doing and “honors for all” at Garfield, and why? What are some lessons-learned from Garfield (and other schools?) and how is that influencing WSHS’s implementation of this change?
    • It is similar in that we are looking to break down barriers for students to access advanced coursework.
    • It is different in that ours is an opt-into honors, Garfield is an opt-out of honors.
    • We believe that we can get more students to pursue advanced coursework by giving them options and encouraging all students to pursue those options. There is an empowerment in saying yes, I can and will do it, versus saying no, I cannot or will not do it.
    • Almost every comprehensive high school in SPS has moved to some type of heterogenous groupings of students in grades 9 and 10. There are a variety of ways schools are doing this and we continue to learn, grow and modify as we learn from each other and our colleagues.

My student is in the regular 8th grade course sequence or “spectrum/honors” at Madison, what course would they take in for grade 9?

Social Studies:  All students take Foundations of Social Studies semester 1 and World Hist. 1 semester 2. Embedded Honors available to all students in World Hist.1.

English Language Arts: (ELA): All students take ELA 9 semester 1 and 2. Embedded Honors available to all students.

Science:  PhysicsA semester 1 and ChemistryA semester 2

Math:  The next course in our math sequence. This is typically Algebra 1 or Geometry.

My student is currently in HCC at Madison, what course would they take for grade 9?

Social Studies:  All students take Foundations of Social Studies semester 1 and World Hist. 1 semester 2. Embedded Honors available to all students in World Hist.1.

English Language Arts (ELA):  All students take ELA 9 semester 1 and 2. Embedded Honors available to all students.

Science:  ChemB/PhysicsB Currently no honors designation available This sequence may change with changes to science curriculum

Math:  The next course in our math sequence. This would typically be Algebra 2.

Honors in Grade 9

Social Studies:  Foundations of Social Studies and World Hist. 1, Embedded honors is available starting in World Hist. 1, semester 2

English Language Arts (ELA):  ELA 9- Embedded Honors

Science:   Currently no honors designation available in PysA, ChemA. Additional honors options may become available as the district builds out the new curriculum.

Math:  Algebra-No honors designation. Geometry-Embedded honors

Honors in Grade 10

Social Studies:  World History 2/World History 3 or
AP World History

English Language Arts (ELA):  ELA 10- Embedded Honors starting in the 2020-21 school year.

Science:  BiologyA/BiologyB Currently no honors designation. Additional honors options may become available as the district builds out the new curriculum.

Math:  Geometry- Embedded honors Or Algebra 2 Or Algebra 2-Honors Or Next math in pathway

AP/Advanced offerings in grades 11 and 12

Social Studies:  AP World History(10th), AP US History(11th), AP Government(12th)

English Language Arts (ELA):  AP Language and Composition(11th), AP Literature and Composition(12th)

Science:  AP Biology, AP Physics, AP Environmental science, Advanced Chemistry

Math:  AP Statistics, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC

How do students earn honors credit?

Social Studies:  Students select to participate in the honors options to earn the designation each semester. Assignments and activities are differentiated and designated per level the student wants to pursue. Completion of the honors assignments in a semester will earn students the designation.

English Language Arts (ELA):  Honors for grade 9 is earned through the building and defending of a portfolio at the end of each semester. The portfolio includes More books on Book Bingo, Honors extension assignments, a semester reflection + goalsetting on 21st century skills

Science:  With the recent adoption of new science curriculum for the beginning sequence of high school science, SPS has not developed an honors sequence or embedded honors. The new courses are designed to allow for differentiation within the course but will not currently carry an honors designation.

Math:   For geometry the honors students receive a project at the beginning of each unit that is due at the end of the unit. It must be of at least B grade quality. The extra projects are recorded in the grade book. For Precalculus honors involves extra homework assignments and additional more challenging material on assessments.

How do I know if my student is pursuing honors?

Social Studies:  Students declare their intent to pursue honors and a form goes home for a parent signature indicating awareness.

English Language Arts (ELA):  Students currently choose to pursue or not. There is not currently a parent signature process.

Science:  N/A

Math:  Students must declare that they wish to pursue honors credit and fill out a sheet signed by their parents. Honors assignments are highlighted in the gradebook and published through the SOURCE.