EVERETT — As high school credit expectations rise statewide, more and more Everett middle-schoolers are accumulating credits before freshman year.
Middle-schoolers in the district have more opportunities to get a jump start on high school.
Students who pass geometry, algebra, coordinated science, Spanish 1, English 1 or computer applications are eligible for credit. This comes after the Legislature voted in 2014 to increase the number of high school credits required to graduate from 20 to 24. That will affect this year’s freshman class.
Most high school courses on middle school campuses are offered only to eighth-graders. Nearly 60 percent, or 925 students, are enrolled in at least one, according to an April report by the Everett School District.
“Almost all students are going to qualify for high school credit,” said Jeanne Willard, the district’s director of college and career readiness and on-time graduation. “We have a lot of families who are looking for that.”
Seventh-grade students can take Washington state history or algebra if they are in the advanced math pathway. Algebra is the only high school credit class that sixth-graders are offered, and they must qualify to take it.
While passing students qualify for additional credits, not all will use them. Jane Eggers, eighth-grade counselor at Eisenhower Middle School, said she tells students who don’t receive an A to wait before putting the grade on their transcript.
“Students can always add a grade to their high school transcript (up until graduation), but they can never remove it once it is placed on the official transcript,” she said in an email. “So, if the student gets an A- in middle school, then has a 4.0 all through high school, that A- could actually hurt their GPA.”
Willard said the list of high school credit courses is “slowly growing.” Spanish 1, English 1, Washington state history and computer applications were added in the past three years.
“The more opportunities kids can access, the better,” Eisenhower Principal Kevin Allen said. “At the same time, it needs to reflect high school rigor.”
Allen said the credits are a benefit, but he doesn’t see them as the “driving force” for students.
“Most students choose to take more rigorous courses to challenge themselves,” he said.
While the district has expanded credit opportunities for students, maintaining the middle school experience is a priority.
It’s important for students to find a balance of schoolwork, athletics and social life, Eggers said.
“These are still 14-year-olds,” she said. “I’d rather have them take fewer classes and get better grades and get those credits.”
Ariel Hadiprijanto, Katelyn Pryor, Dylan Austin, Diego Corpening and Prabhman Aujla are eighth-graders at Eisenhower. They’re all taking high school credit classes.
“There’s definitely a lot more pressure,” Pryor said.
Aujla said he has more homework, and fellow students in his classes “are pretty serious about school.”
Receiving additional assistance from teachers during lunch is a big help, Austin said.
Asking older students about their study habits prepared Corpening for the increased workload, he said.
Spanish 1 is in its second year at Eisenhower. Enrollment is up and a fifth section is being added next year.
“We want to start our languages earlier and earlier,” Willard said.
Hadiprijanto, whose parents are from Indonesia, said, “At this point, I know more Spanish than I do Indonesian.”
Pryor, Austin and Hadiprijanto said they’d like to see additional languages, such as Chinese, available.
“I know Chinese would be a really hard class, but if we’re taking AP classes (in high school), we might not have time for a language like Chinese,” Austin said.
Spanish could make its way to elementaries, said Georgia Lindquist, the district’s director of humanities and secondary literacy. If so, it’d be offered in the sixth and seventh grades as well.
Algebra and geometry are the only classes with prerequisites. Students have to complete a pair of condensed math classes to be eligible for algebra, which is a prerequisite for geometry.
Condensed math courses are offered during the summer for students who want to qualify for high school math.