Skip To ContentSkip To Content
    Changes for Middle School Courses for 2020-21 School Year
    Posted on 02/12/2020

    Changes for Middle School Courses for 2020-21 School Year

    Seattle Public Schools is proud to lead the way in creating consistent, rigorous, and appropriate middle school programming for all our students.

    In support of our bold strategic plan, Seattle Excellence, and to deliver high-quality, standards-aligned instruction, we are standardizing course offerings for middle schools and K-8 schools across the district, starting in 2020-21. Read more about Seattle Excellence.

    We strongly believe that aligning course offerings will bring predictability to all our families, regardless of address or movement throughout the district, and create common pathways to excellent college and career preparation.

    By eliminating specialized course offerings that currently only exist in certain schools, we are creating consistency and commitment to our community that all students will be able to access rigorous instruction.

    Some of the larger shifts that you may notice in 2020-21 are:

    • Middle school courses will be offered in an integrated learning model. This means that specialized stand-alone Honors/Spectrum sections will no longer be offered in middle school.
    • Students will enroll in the next math and science course based on the district’s established course sequence, which aligns with our adopted curriculum.
    • Algebra 1 will be offered only to seventh and eighth grade students.

    In preparation for these changes, Seattle Public School staff is designing and developing professional development around differentiation and culturally responsive teaching practices. We know that differentiated instruction, paired with integrated classrooms, is an evidence-based practice that is shown to create better learning experiences for all our students.

    Although this alignment work is ongoing, much of the middle school programming for 2020-21 will remain the same including each school’s unique student support systems, the Highly Capable Cohort model, and implementation of the school’s individualized school improvement goals.

    We thank you for your continued support, and shared investment in the success of all our students.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Why is this change being made?

    The goal of aligning our middle school course offerings is to establish a consistent and predictable course sequence that families can depend on for grades 6, 7 and 8. These course offerings will be used by all comprehensive middle schools district wide.

    Many K-8 schools will also be using this model beginning in 2020-21. The middle school partnership work is part of a larger effort to promote more consistency and predictability across Seattle Public Schools for students, families, and staff in alignment with the 2019-24 Strategic Plan, House Bill 1599, and our standards-based middle school curriculum adoptions. Visit the state legislature website for information about HB 1599.

    Are the current middle school courses NOT consistent across the schools? If not, why?

    Not currently. Right now, course offerings vary across middle schools and K-8 schools. By aligning course offerings, students who move schools, for whatever reason, will not be faced with repeating courses they have already taken or skip courses that often delay their success in high school courses. Middle school leaders, in partnership with content area managers in Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction, the College and Career Readiness team, Directors of Schools, and the Department of Student Support Services, have recognized this as an equity issue and have moved to offer standardized courses across all schools.

    Does standardizing these courses lower expectations of my child?

    No. In fact, establishing consistency across the district often raises expectations of all students and increases student access to more classes. All students will have more options to begin earning credits toward high school graduation.

    We are confident students will still be able to take courses that are challenging academically. All middle courses will be aligned to the district course catalog and each school will have supports for students at their level of need.

    How will middle school students be identified for acceleration?

    Currently, math and science are the only middle school core subjects that are offered in an accelerated learning model. Middle schools will continue to enroll students in the next math or science course in the district’s established course sequence using current procedures. For example, if a student in 6th grade completes Math 7, the student would enroll in Math 8 in 7th grade.

    What if my child is already working far ahead in a core subject and needs more challenge?

    If families have a concern that their child is not being properly challenged in a core subject, they should contact their child’s school counselor and/or the child’s teacher.

    School staff often work closely with families to provide a student with more individualized support to meet the needs of the student. Additional trainings will be offered to teachers to continue to provide meaningful student learning experiences that keep all students appropriately challenged.

    Why can’t 6th grade students take Algebra?

    The mathematics sequence of content has been created to best provide development of math understanding by systematically building concepts. Students should engage in the entire sequence of learning to ensure a strong foundation for success in advanced mathematics in high school and college.

    As students follow their cohort into middle school, the next math course in sequence will be Math 6, Math 7, or Math 8. After students complete Math 8, they will be eligible to enroll in Algebra.

    How does this impact world language courses in middle school?

    Beginning in 2021-22, students who choose to take a world language elective course must take two semesters within the same year to earn high school credit. For example: Spanish 1A and 1B must be taken within the same year for the credit to automatically transfer to the high school transcript.

    Unless otherwise requested, students who complete high school courses before attending high school shall be given high school credit. World Language Assessments (STAMP) and Career and Technical Education Skills Center Courses may also provide additional high school credit opportunities in the years ahead. Go to the State Board of Education website for more information. 

    What does this mean for electives?

    ​This change does not impact electives. Electives are decided at the school level and are determined by funding, interest, and enrollment in those courses.

    Does an honors level course in middle school help a student get into the right class in high school?

    Eighth grade students register for their high school courses during the spring of their 8th-grade year. Registration happens online and students and families can select their desired courses in accordance with the district’s established course sequence in each subject. If a student wishes to take an advanced course available at their high school, the student can enroll in the course. All high school advanced courses continue to be available to all students.

    Is there a cutoff grade needed for a student to earn high school credit in middle school?

    Students who take a middle school course that is also eligible for high school credit must earn a passing grade for the entire course to receive that credit on their high school transcript. A passing grade for any high school course is any letter grade A-D. Remember that only some middle school courses are available for high school credit.

    Are Seattle Skill Center Courses approved for high school credit?

    The Seattle Skills Center offers free summer courses which are open to rising eighth graders through twelfth graders. Any Seattle Public School student can take a course and earn 0.5 CTE credits.

    Course credits and grades will be automatically be added to the high school transcript. These courses fulfill the CTE requirement for graduation.

    If you aren’t offering honors level courses, won’t that affect my student’s weighted Grade Point Average?

    No. Middle school classes are not a part of the official high school transcript, so the grade point average (GPA)is not affected. High school courses offered in middle school will be added to the high school transcript, however the official transcript does not reflect weighted GPAs, per state law.

    How do I access my students’ weighted GPA?

    At the high school level, students may request their Academic History report which is where they would find their weighted GPA for high school credit courses only. Students can request their Academic History report from their teacher or school counselor.

    Have more questions? Please speak with your school principal.