Overview of Ninth Grade Academies

Overview of Nathan Hale High School Ninth Grade Academies

 

The Nathan Hale Academies are the result of a multi-year, all-staff educational reform process. They are a key part of a long-term goal to create a school that meets the needs of and ensures that ALL students will become honorable, thinking, skillful citizens.

 

There are three academies in our ninth grade program each staffed by four teachers. Each of the four teachers in an academy is a specialist in one or more of the following: health, language arts, science or social studies. Students will receive a full year of academic credit in each of these four subject areas.

 

For the fall semester, each academy has been further divided into a health/science block and a language arts/social studies block. Students will do course work in a single block first quarter, and then work in the other block second quarter. Your student will have either health/science or language arts/world history first quarter; second quarter they switch and have the block they did not have first quarter. Quarter academy classes are worth a semester credit per class. We are able to do this because the class periods are longer and the material is covered in an in-depth manner. Throughout the entire semester both blocks will focus heavily on reading and writing.

 

Academies meet during the first three hours of the day. We have developed a schedule that consists of two academic blocks each day ranging from 65 to 90 minutes. For the first several months of school, Mondays begin with a 20-minute “all-academy” meeting used for announcements, team-building activities, and orientation to Nathan Hale High School.

 

Our academies operate on the inclusion principle: all students attend the same classes and meet high standards of behavior and academic achievement and all students have the option of doing honors level work by fulfilling requirements specified. IEP teachers oversee and implement accommodations for students who have an IEP.

 

We strongly encourage parents to read the Essential Schools’ “Universal Goals”: How can Heterogeneous Grouping Help? article found on our website (www.halehs.seattleschools.org) under the About Our School link and then under Additional Resources. This article addresses the concerns parents may have that de-tracking academic classes results in “watered down” curriculum. In fact, the opposite has been true in our experience since implementing our model in 1998. Our curriculum has become far more rigorous as we have focused on developing critical thinking skills in all of our students. We also encourage parents to explore the links on our website to The Coalition of Essential Schools site for more information about the core principles that drive our school design.

 

 

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