State of Education: Ninth Grade Scholars Academy
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When becoming freshman, students officially begin high school. For some, they also enter the Ninth Grade Scholars Academy.
Kingston High School Principal Adrian Manuel said, "There's a good number of high schools across the state that have already years ago, or even at this moment now, transformed their large high schools to a campus of academies."
And Kingston High School is no exception. The idea is to change the structure for the typical freshman by offering core courses and career exploration, instead of just general subjects. There's also a reason this starts in ninth grade.
Manuel said, "It's a transition period for middle school students coming into high school, and we know traditionally these students need all kinds of support, social, emotional, academic."
Once the ninth grade academy is up and running, which Kingston High School plans on starting this upcoming school year, more career-oriented academies will become available.
Manuel said, "They'll have their option between a variety of academies in engineering, in health and medical sciences, business careers, law, public and civics."
"While this ninth grade academy would offer many things, including career counseling, it will also offer something else - an approach that has both proponents and supporters: block scheduling
Manuel said, "There's many ways we can free up teachers for collaborative planning and give them more than just 40 minutes as a group to plan accelerated opportunities for students, then we would get a 90 minute block to plan together."
Some educators feel 90 minutes classes can be too long. On this timetable, classes would also be held every other day, which has brought out additional criticism. But regardless of the schedule, the program also has to be modified based on each individual students. After all everyone is different.
Manuel said, "And so we're looking at a whole host of things. One of those being a summer program before entering the ninth grade academy for students that are behind and also during the year of the ninth grade academy, we would have advanced electives and opportunities for kids to earn credit early because they're accelerated."
Kingston will be finalizing plans for the next school year, while other schools are looking at the academy programs as a new way of beginning the high school years.