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Sunday, October 24, 2010

High School Credit for Middle School classes

Once again I hear people asking "Why would a student want to get high school credit for classes taken in middle school?"

This may not surprise you, but you're not going to get a good answer to this question from someone who isn't interested in it or who thinks it ranges from pointless to being a bad idea. Yet that's who have been answering that question of late.

So, rather than their explanation, to graduate high school early, let me instead offer some better reasons.

1) Lighter course load when taking challenging classes. A high performing student might take as many as three or four AP classes as a senior. These classes are challenging and demanding classes. Wouldn't it be nice to have the option to not take two other classes at the same time so the student can devote more time to the AP classes?

2) Credit for work done. If you have ever told your child that going to school is his or her job, then credit is their pay for that job. If someone does the work, then they should get the pay. Students should get high school credit for classes taken in middle school because they have EARNED IT. Actually, you don't need any other reason than this.

3) More electives. Wouldn't it be nice to have completed some of the required courses so the student is free to take more electives when in high school?

4) Schedule flexibility. Students who are taking Running Start classes or have jobs will be able to build more flexible schedules if they have some of their credits covered and aren't required to have a full schedule when juniors and seniors.

22 comments:

Syd said...

Credit for work done is I think the best reason. If you have taken 9th and 10th grade math before you get to HS - you deserve the credit.

Anonymom said...

Any word on foreign language HS credits?

At my sons HS, if a kid takes Spanish for two years in MS, they automatically go into Spanish II in HS.

ConcernedTeacher said...

This is way off-topic (sorry!), but just wanted to remind others that the last OSPI Public Forum on the Common Core Standards and SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is being held tomorrow night (Monday) in Shoreline.
http://www.shorelineschools.org/news/release.php?releasesid=1078

Some light reading on the topic:
http://www.kdp.org/publications/pdf/record/fall10/Record_Fall_2010_Tienken.pdf

http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/edweek/national.htm

http://education.nationaljournal.com/2010/07/conflicting-research-on-core-s.php

Obviously there are both pros and cons, but I hope there is good enough attendance and enough questions asked that OSPI and the legislature to realize that they can't just slide this in.

-ConcernedTeacher

seattle citizen said...

Or we could get rid of grade levels entirely: see this video by RSA of a Sir Ken Robinson lecture on the power of creativity and divergent thinking!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Concerned Teacher, I'll give that its own thread. SC, I want to post two of his lectures; he's great!

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't you think the EOC exams will simplify this issue? Once these exams are in place middle-schoolers who take HS level courses can end those courses with an exam. The results should be very clear cut, with no room for argument about whether credit is due.

Someone at a party was telling me that some APP middle schoolers take high school-level classes but on a longer timeline, taking two years to complete the class. I'm not sure how this is accomplished or even whether it is true! But if it is, the EOC would deal with that situation, too.

hschinske said...

I don't know what could have been meant by high school level courses spread out over two years. The only courses I know of that work like that are the language ones, and of course that's true for any student, nothing to do with APP.

The one place where APP curriculum takes above-level material and stretches it over two years that I know of is the math curriculum in fourth and fifth grade, which consists largely of the sixth-grade Connected Math curriculum.

My problem with taking high school credit is that I don't trust the high schools to let the kids take any "extra" credits later on. I think it will work the way it does at the UW these days, where if you've finished your credits, boom, out you go, no dallying around with electives or double majors or anything like that.

I am also against putting pressure on the kids to get transcript-worthy grades in middle school, and I never have liked the idea of pushing high school coursework down levels (except in math); I'd much rather see the middle school subjects taught at greater depth but in an age-appropriate fashion.

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

As for the grade-point average thing, I can't help you there because I just don't care about it nor do I understand those who do.

hschinske said...

Even if a particular kid's parents aren't fussing much about their grades, anything that makes a course high pressure can have an adverse affect (especially if a bunch of the students start cheating).

Helen Schinske

Zippo said...

Well, my son is in 'APP' 8th grade at Hamilton. When I went to Curriculum Night a few weeks ago, his block teacher said that the World History that he is taking is 1/2 of an AP class. They are starting a portfolio, that they will take to HS, and take the second half there and be able to take the AP exam at the end of 9th grade. This was the first I heard of that, ever, and I am still not sure how I feel about it. Charlie, is this what your kids did at WMS? I never heard of it the one year we were there.

Anonymous said...

Zippo, I think that was it. So the course continues at Garfield? What if your kid wants to go to a neighborhood high school, or maybe Cleveland STEM? I guess it isn't a "wasted" year exactly since the content is probably good stuff. But no AP credit in that case!

Maureen said...

Zippo and Lisa, but does that mean that only APP kids can take AP World History at Garfield since the class will start 1/2 way through? Or will GHS offer a section only for APP kids that goes half as fast and teach it to the other kids in other sections that more quickly cover the whole course? And will APP kid schedules have to built around that 1/2 AP class so they have less flexibility in other courses and are less likely to mix in with non APP kids in other courses? Did anyone ask any of those questions?

Personally, my concern is that this will solidify an APP track at GHS that shuts out nonAPP kids who are capable of working at their level and who need access to that cohort in order to get the courses they need.

Howard said...

Maureen, Garfield had already been making AP World History a de facto two year course, with the first year being called "Honors World History". My daughter took Honors World History last year as a 9th grader, and is now taking AP World History as a 10th grader - along with 9th graders coming out of the APP middle school program. Likewise, there are APP 9th graders in her Marine Science class. (As they took Biology in middle school.)

At the moment, at least, GHS does not appear to be creating an APP-only track.

TechyMom said...

And, why is graduating early not a reasonable goal? I had friends who did this, and still feel that it was a good choice. I also had friends who tested out of high school, which was allowed in CA at the time.

Going to college a year or two early isn't so different from running start. Come to think of it, taking HS classes for credit in MS isn't so different from running start either.

No one is proposing that we require HS classes in MS to be for credit, only that we offer that option to students who want it. I understand why some families or kids would decide not to do that, but I just don't understand why anyone would be opposed to having the option.

Howard said...

The district curriculum alignment effort may create more incentives to seek credits for work done in middle school, as courses that now meet core graduation requirements may be reclassified as electives.

For example - I would probably insist that my child take four years of science, even if she entered high school with credit for Biology. I do not, however, necessarily care whether or not the science courses she chooses are among the core requirements as defined by the district. If our high school Science Department offered a number of attractive courses that were considered "electives" by the district, I would probably seek the credits from MS in order to preserve flexibility.

Obviously the same logic could apply to other departments as well.

hschinske said...

And, why is graduating early not a reasonable goal?

It's a fine goal if it happens to be YOUR goal. Getting kicked out for having too many credits is quite another matter. Having extra credits on one's transcript should only open doors, never shut them, but unfortunately that's not how the world works.

Helen Schinske

Zippo said...

Maureen, I am not exactly sure how it works, although I heard the explanation... though Howard's answer makes sense. And I for SURE agree with him that GHS is not creating an exclusive APP track, shutting out other kids. Really, as in, REALLY sure that is not the case for the future at all.

Chris said...

From the C & I meeting yesterday, on the subject of Core 24: Still not sure if state can affort core 24, but it so, it goes into effect in 2016. Therefore, it will apply to this year's seventh graders.

The current SPS standards require 20 credits. Many schools and many students require/attain more, but not all.

C & I committee thinks we should require 22 in the interim. As an aside, to paraphrase, some of the board members thought "we have been discussing this forever and we'd better [shxx or get off the pot.]"

Well, folks, the recipients of this interim plan would be the 8th graders, so they'd better hurry up and let them know before they start HS. Not to mention hire the teachers and find the classrooms.

And all the more reason to get middle schoolers credit for the qualifying courses.

Maureen said...

Howard, Thanks for the explanation of AP World History at Garfield. Wow, I worry about taking a year to teach a semester long required AP Human Geography at Roosevelt, taking two years to teach AP World (and I think it's required now as well) seems even more limiting to me.

I do see how this creates less of an exclusive track for APP, but it is true that it shuts out advanced 9th graders from access to the 9th grade APP cohort--they have to wait a year and then as 10th graders can be in with the APP 9th graders. Not a track per se, but more limiting than I have understood it to be in the past. And with the APP kids gone, I wonder about the impact on Honors World and Honors Bio?

Howard said...

Maureen, you're correct. Last year, APP 9th graders took Honors World History and Biology with others in their grade, but now Language Arts is likely to be the only core class they take with large numbers of other freshmen. Arguably, that's not a positive development - from both an APP and non-APP student's perspective.

I'm not sure how this will play out in 10th grade and beyond. Will APP 10th graders take AP American History, or will they take something else, and join others in their class for AP American History in 11th grade? Likewise, what will be the typical science progression? Garfield and the Advanced Learning office may already have figured this out, but if so, I haven't heard the plans.

Single Child said...

From the last APP AC meeting: "The goal is to enable APP students to finish AP World History in 9th grade, AP US History in 10th, and AP Government and Politics in 11th.".

hschinske said...

I'm not convinced all APP students are necessarily going to be on the same path. Once at Garfield, you can sign up for any class you like, after all, and you can choose to take more challenging courses only in your areas of greatest strength. Within APP, a few students who aren't as strong in math drop back a year on entering middle or high school; why would it be weird for a student who might be a math or science whiz, but who was less strong in the humanities, to decide not to take an AP humanities course so early?

Helen Schinske