Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien,WA 98166

Office Hours:

Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

6th Grade Q&A


When will the 6th grade transition to middle school happen?

Sixth grade moves to our middle schools in September 2019, when our new middle school opens. 
Sixth grade and 7th grade will move to middle school together in fall 2019 when the transition happens.

Do our current middle schools have the space to add 6th graders?

Currently, our four middle schools do not have the capacity to add 6th grade. With the construction of a fifth middle school, we will have the space we need. Glacier Middle School will open in September 2019. 
CHOICE Academy and Big Picture Schools will also add 6th grade to their programs in fall 2019.

How will new boundaries affect middle school students?

Districtwide boundary changes go into effect fall 2019, when 6th grade moves to middle school.

  • Get more information and check if you are affected by boundary and feeder pattern changes. Notices were mailed in late November 2018 to the families of students living in boundary change areas. Look up your fall 2019 neighborhood schools.
  • Read the Boundary FAQs.

Academics, Sports & Activities

What academic programs and curriculum will be taught in 6th grade at middle school?

General 6th-grade classes will include math, science, language arts, social studies, physical education, world language, arts and advisory.

  • For the first time ever, all 6th-grade students will take world language. This change is in support of our strategic plan goal for all students to graduate bilingual and biliterate.
  • All sixth-grade students also will be enrolled in an arts class. This may include dance, media arts, music, theatre or visual arts. This is more arts instruction time than sixth-grade students currently get in elementary school. 
  • Advisory is small, together all year and used for team building, social and emotional learning and anti-bullying education. 

Will 6th-grade students still be able to attend Camp Waskowitz?

Yes! 6th-grade camp at Camp Waskowitz will continue as a learning experience that will develop leadership skills and a sense of community.

Which middle schools will offer Dual Language?

Dual Language will continue to be offered at Cascade Middle School as well as the new Glacier Middle School in SeaTac and Chinook Middle School starting in fall 2019. Dual language will be offered at Glacier in grades 6 and 7 in 2019-20. Dual language will be offered at Chinook in grade 6 in 2019-20.

Students in dual language who are entering 8th grade in 2019-20 and who live in the Glacier Middle School boundaries will be enrolled at Cascade Middle School.

Will other language learning be available?

In addition to Dual Language at Cascade Middle School and Glacier Middle School, World Language starting in 6th grade is being developed for the Class of 2026 students who are not enrolled in Dual Language.

World Language credit by proficiency will also be available in middle school.

Which 6th grade sports will be offered in middle school?

We recognize the value of athletics for 6th-grade students and we are planning for opportunities to exist. 

Tentative plans include opportunities for 6th grade students to participate in track and field, wrestling and cross country along with 7th and 8th grade students. 

What after-school activities will be available to 6th-grade students?

In addition to sports, all middle schools offer the opportunity to participate in other after-school activities:

  • Homework help
  • Book Club
  • Latino Club
  • Polynesian Club
  • Black Student Union
  • Science Club
  • Drama Club
  • Art Club
  • Robotics Club
  • STEAM Club
  • Community Outreach Club
  • ASB\Student Government

Clubs and activities may vary from school to school.

Social/Emotional Support

Are 6th graders socially and emotionally ready for the middle school environment?

Most other school districts, including our neighboring districts, use the 6-7-8 model and find it makes sense as an age grouping. Developmentally, 11- and 12-year-old students have more in common with 13- and 14-year-old students than with students in primary grades.
One of the benefits of a 6-7-8 middle school is that it allows three years for students to build relationships with staff, which is critical during the difficult early teen years. Our plan is to develop a sixth-grade program that would address the specific developmental needs of sixth graders and help them prepare for the academic demands of secondary school. Parents and teachers will be deeply involved in the planning to ensure that our sixth-grade program reflects what our community wants for our children.
Since tens of thousands of middle schools across the nation are grades 6-7-8, there is plenty of data and information about this model. Many school districts in King County and across the state have used this model for many years.

What does research say about 6th grade in middle schools?

There are many studies on grade configuration. In 2009, a task force made up of parents, staff, and district leaders spent several months reviewing research on middle school models. We learned that grade configuration is not a critical factor in student achievement. Both K-6 and 6-7-8 configurations can be successful. What matters most for student achievement is the school climate and the quality of instruction happening in the classroom.
When we completed the study in 2009, though all of our neighboring districts have 6-7-8 middle schools, the school board decided not to make the switch because of the logistical issues involved. However, many middle school teachers have expressed an interest in adding sixth grade in order to have more time to build relationships and to nurture learning in their students. We see this as an opportunity to capitalize on those positive aspects of the 6-7-8 model.

What are the long-term academic/social pros of moving 6th grade to middle school?

Sixth graders will be taught by subject-area specialists rather than generalists. Teachers who specialize in a content area have the opportunity for richer training and professional development, which leads to more rigorous and consistent instruction to students. This is especially important in math, language arts and science. As a result, students will be better prepared for higher-level work.

Families and students will have three full years to develop relationships with teachers and staff. This consistency and personalization are especially important during the critical early teen years in a student’s life.

How will you support students and families with this transition?

We are absolutely committed to a positive transition for all 6th-grade students and their families. We will provide opportunities for families to get acquainted with their new school and its staff and offer an orientation process. Our school leaders, counselors and staff will assist with any transition support your student needs.
Family Information Nights start in January 2019 for families of students now in 5th and 6th grades who will move up to middle school together in fall 2019. Principals at our elementary and middle schools throughout our district are partnering to provide information and support for our families.

How will you ensure that 6th graders will be safe and secure with 7th and 8th graders?

Student safety is our top priority, and we invest heavily in creating a positive culture in our schools. All of our middle schools operate under the same principles of Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) that our elementary schools use to build safe and respectful school climates and promote positive behavior. Since adopting PBIS, discipline referrals at all our middle schools have decreased dramatically.
Each middle school is staffed with security personnel, who are also trained in PBIS principles. Our security staff work closely with school leaders and teachers to know each student by name, strength and need.


How are staff and students prepared to prevent and address harassment and bullying?

Continued social and emotional development is critical to student success, now and in the future. Through authentic relationships and intentional skill building, the social and emotional well-being of each member of the Highline community is supported and strengthened, which helps prevent harassment and bullying. For more information about social and emotional learning practices in Highline, contact Doug Judge, director of social-emotional learning.
Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) promotes a school climate of responsibility and respect where bullying is not acceptable. We also employ restorative practices to encourage accountability, healing and repair when conflict arises. 
Staff follow our district policy and procedure to address harassment, intimidation, and bullying when it does occur. School leaders and staff provide learning experiences in advisory period and blended into other learning, school activities and assemblies to support social/emotional well-being, a positive school climate and prevent bullying.
School counselors are trained and ready to resolve student conflicts. If a conflict is not resolved at the school level, our district ombudsman Lita O'Donnell will assist.

Q&A for Teachers

Two meetings were held in spring 2018 by district staff and Highline Education Association (HEA) staff to provide information for elementary teachers interested in teaching 6th grade in middle school starting in fall 2019. More information for staff about the transfer process is in the Human Resources section of the Staff Hub.

Who is eligible to teach 6th grade in middle school and how do I become endorsed?

Specific Content Area Endorsement

If you are endorsed in a specific content area, you are eligible to teach at the secondary level, but only in that subject area.

Elementary Education Primary Endorsement

If you are endorsed in Elementary Education Primary, you are not eligible to teach at the secondary level. 

Eligible Elementary Education Endorsements 
  • Language Arts K-8
  • Reading K-8
  • Science K-8
  • Social Studies K-8
  • Dance 1-8
  • Drama 1-8
  • Drama K-8
  • Music K-8
  • Art K-8
Non-Eligible Elementary Education Endorsements 
  • Math (example: Algebra, Geometry)
  • Health/P.E. (test only)
  • Library (program + test)
Adding the Endorsement 
  • Math (test only)
  • Health/P.E. (test only)
  • Library/Media (program + test)
Testing and Endorsement Resources 

Who can teachers contact with questions about eligibility and certification?

Human Resources Contacts
Certification Contact
  • Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)
If I'm interested, will there be an opportunity to visit a middle school?
  • Diana GarciaDirector of Educational Specifications & Transition Planning


Will middle schools receive additional resources to serve the additional students?

Basic education funding follows the student, so schools will receive the per/student allocation for all 6th-grade students.