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

Office Hours:

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

Sixth Grade Q&A

Logistics

When will the sixth grade transition to middle school happen?

Highline Public Schools will move sixth grade to middle schools in September 2019, when our new middle school opens. 
 
Sixth grade and seventh grade will move to middle school together in fall 2019 when the transition happens.

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

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

How will new boundaries affect middle school students?

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

Academics, Sports & Activities

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

Math

  • Math 6: Math In Focus, (current math curriculum)
  • Math 7: Math In Focus, Pre-Algebra
  • Math 8: Math In Focus, Algebra 

Science

A year-long sixth-grade science curriculum is under development based on Next Generation Science Standards (includes Life Science, Earth and Space Science, Physical Science).

Language Arts 

Year-long language arts curriculum is being developed for sixth grade based on state standards. 

Social Studies

Year-long social studies curriculum is being developed for sixth grade based on state standards.

Advisory

Sixth grade students will have an advisory class, just like other middle school students, which is small, together all year, used for team building, social and emotional learning and anti-bullying education. 

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

Yes! Sixth-grade camp at Camp Waskowitz will continue as a learning experience that will develop leadership skills and align to sixth-grade science standards.

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 starting in fall 2019.

Will other language learning be available?

In addition to Dual Language at Cascade Middle School and Glacier Middle School, World Language starting in sixth 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.

Will sixth grade sports be added in middle school?

Sixth grade sports will be added in middle school. The format is under development and may be a mixture of intramural and competitive league sports.

All middle schools that are members of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) have a four-season athletic program. Football, soccer, volleyball, wrestling, track and field, cross country, softball and basketball are offered in seventh and eighth grade at our main middle schools.

We are proposing that a limited number of sixth grade students compete in track and field, wrestling and cross country along with seventh and eighth grade students. An intramural sports program will be available to all sixth grade students: boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, flag football, softball, yoga and general fitness. 

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

Sixth-grade students will be able to participate in after-school activities. In addition to sports, middle school activities and clubs may include:

  • Homework help, noon and after school
  • 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
  • Leadership Class

Clubs and activities may vary from school to school.

Social/Emotional Support

Are sixth 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 sixth 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 sixth 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.

Students will have the opportunity to take a variety of electives matched to their needs and strengths. This will allow them to explore a wider range of interests and potential career directions and will help them stay engaged in school.

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.

Sixth graders will be challenged to meet the higher expectations that go with middle school. They will be pushed academically by being with older, rather than younger, peers, and they will have the opportunity to develop the behaviors, attitudes, and habits they will need to succeed in high school and college.

How will you support students and families with this transition?

We are absolutely committed to a positive transition for all sixth graders and their families. We will provide opportunities for families to get acquainted with their new school and its staff and offer a robust orientation process. Our school leaders, counselors and staff will assist with any transition support your student needs.
 
Each middle school will develop transition activities for spring and summer 2019.

How will you ensure that sixth graders will be safe and secure with seventh and eighth graders?

Student safety is our top priority, and we invest heavily in creating a positive culture in our schools. All 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?

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) promotes a school climate of responsibility and respect where bullying is not acceptable. 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 wellbeing, 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

Where can I find information for teachers affected by the transition of sixth grade to middle school?

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 sixth grade in middle school.

The transfer process and timeline will be publicized to HEA members and administrators in August 2018. Check for more information from Human Resources on the Staff Hub.

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 sixth-grade students.