8th Grade Transition to High Schools for Families New to U.S. Public Schools
On Jan. 25, 2023 the Cultural and Family Partnerships team hosted "8th grade Transition Night for Families New to High Schools in the US" event. Topics covered include what are high school credits and how credits are earned each year for graduation requirements and college applications. Other topics include possible high school opportunities, and state and college testing information. District staff were available to answer questions.
This event will be held again in January 2024.
8th grade Information Night For Families NEW to the US public school System
Presented by – Equity and Family Partnership Department and Student Intervention Department
- Help parents or guardians who have NOT attended public schools in the United States better understand the school system design and programs.
- Provide resources for families on where to learn more information
Main Difference between Secondary School in US and other countries
- Parents and student are the managers of their education
- Access to high school education (public) is free at all students grades 9-12 and provide to all students (with some age restrictions).
- Students are independent, are responsible for choices and decision made towards their high school and beyond pathway
- Students need to advocate for their academic welfare
- Focus on well-rounded student – academic and other interests
- ISD – focus on college preparedness, however many opportunities and pathways to trade schools, technical colleges and other opportunities after high school.
Differences between Middle and High School
- Trimester to Semester system
- Finals given at the end of the semester (modified schedule for whole school)
- Students self-select courses throughout high school (not placed by counselor or teacher)
- Teachers and counselors can advise students regarding course selection and beyond high school, but it is student decision
- Even more choices in courses especially as you move to into 10-12th grade
- More opportunities for clubs and extracurricular activities
- School Counselor and College & Career Center – VERY important resources in high school
Common High School Terms
- 9th grade – Freshman
- 10th grade – Sophomore
- 11th grade – Junior
- 12th grade – Senior
- Next year’s Freshman- Class of 2027
A transcript is a record of the grades of ALL classes taken in high school. Show the number of credits earned for each class. Colleges and universities often request a school transcript as part of the application and admissions process.
- Every Grade earned in a class from 9th to 12th grade are on the school transcript.
- (New transcript of you move to a new school)
- In ISD, it is a cumulative grade based on tests, assignments and projects.
- See teacher’s syllabus for more details.
- Students are NOT ranked, but will have a Grade Point Average
- Passing classes is crucial for graduation requirements
- GPA – Grade point average, cumulative numerical score of letter grade
- No credit earned for grade F
How do you earn high school credits?
- Each semester = ½ credit
- 1 completed year – 1 credit so 1 year of 9th grade passing ELA will be 1 credit
- Students take 7 classes each semester so can earn 3.5 credits per semester (with passing grade in all classes) and 7 credits each year
- If a student does not earn the credits required to graduate for their assigned graduation year after 4 years in high school, they can continue in high school to earn credits and graduate. (5th year in HS)
- Washington's compulsory attendance laws require children between the ages of eight (8) and 18 to attend school, with some exceptions.
Screenshot of a Washington State High School Transcript:
Screenshot of information on a transcript:
Screenshot of A Transcript-GPA
-Students/parents can request a transcript be sent directly to the university or college or a copy be sent to them via the Parchment website.
Parchment. Access to Parchment link is also on each high school Counseling Page.
How to graduate from High School?
Earn Credits (WA state requires 24 credits to graduate)
- Students need to earn a minimum number of high school credits to graduate
- Credits show that students have met academic requirements by passing a course
- Passing grade is A, B, C or D
- Percentage that will determine “F” grade is determined by teacher – please check each teacher’s syllabus. May vary but usually 59.9% or lower
24 credits needed to graduate
24 credits needed to graduate
24 credits needed to graduate
- Fulfilling class credit requirements: Course and credit requirements for earning a high school diploma are found in each school’s course guide linked below. Graduation requirements are assigned according to a student’s year of graduation.
- Crafting a High School and Beyond Plan – Each student shall have a high school plan to guide their high school experience, including plans for post-secondary education or training and career. Students shall create their high school and beyond plans in cooperation with parents, guardians and school staff. School staff shall work with students to update the plans during the years in which the plan is implemented in order to accommodate changing interests and goals. – Issaquah High, Liberty and Skyline
- Meeting Standards on State Assessments (SBA) or other Graduation Pathway – Students meet standard in: Language Arts and Math
- Washington State History (ISD students take and meet this requirement in 7th grade Social Studies)
Required credits to earn high school Diploma at all ISD high schools
Required credits to enter a 4-year college or university*
English Language Arts
3 credits (1.5 World History, 1.0 US History and 0.5 credit in Civics)
3 credits (Minimum-Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 to graduate HS)
3-4 credits (minimum Algebra 2 and generally need math class in senior year)
3 credits (2 lab sciences and 1 other)
3 credits (Biology, Chemistry or Physics, 1 other
2 credits (can be earned in middle or high)
2 credits (students can take test in native language for up to 4 credits)
2 credits (any combination of Fine, Visual, Performing)
1 credit (Fine, Visual or Performing art)
1.5 credits of PE and 0.5 credits Health
Career and Technical Education (CTE)
1 credit (many options in high school)
Elective credit (any course)
Not required for college entrance but provide opportunities for students to demonstrate and explore their learning
- Post-secondary goal (2 or 4 year college)
- Meet standards in Math and English Language Arts (ELA)
- Options include SBA, college level class, college level test
- Military career goal
- Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) – aptitude test related to military careers
- Career/Technical goal
- Complete a sequence of CTE (Career and Technical Education) courses in one program area (Check website for more details)
High School Courses - Choices and Options
- There are opportunities to take combination of classes – standard classes, AP/IB, Running Start, Career and Technical Education, Online, etc. – whatever best fits the student’s need (no “correct” or set pathway)
- Admission requirements at colleges (university or technical) different
- Research requirements for your pathway
- Tailor classes to fit the need to individual student – no one size fits all
- Individualized model of high school is part of US education philosophy
- Standard College Preparation
- Honors, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate (IB) (College prep plus)
- Running Start (earn college credits in HS starting in 11th and 12th grade)
- Online classes in HS (district website)
- Career and Technical Education
Tests or Assessments – Options in High School
- SAT/ACT – Possible College requirement for admission (college dependent)
- Advanced Placement (AP) – Can earn college credits
- Issaquah High School and Liberty
- International Baccalaureate (IB) exams – Can earn college credits
- Skyline High School
- For students who are in 8th grade MLL and not proficient – they will continue in the MLL program in 9th grade
- WIDA (annual English language test) in February/March to check student’s level of English language proficiency – only given to students who qualify for the MLL program (students who took screener test when they started at a school).
- In high school, MLL students take one English Language Development class from a certificated MLL teacher.
- Class focuses on academic language needed for content classes so students can succeed in math, language arts, social studies and science
- Reading, writing, listening and speaking of academic English language critical for students’ success in school
Role of School Counselor in High School
- Academic support, Monitor students’ progress towards graduation to ensure they are on track
- Advise students and families about course selection
- Help new students with course equivalencies
- Resources (academic, social, emotional) and Running Start Information
- Social and Emotional Counseling
- Not a stigma to talk to counselor – support person in high school
- Talk to students about social and emotional issues
- Connect students with mental health resources available on campus
- Rise of anxiety and depression in schools around the country and world
Links to School Counseling sites
- High school counselor assigned based on student last name
- Same high school counselor for 9-12th grade (exceptions due to staff changes)
- How to access counselor for students
- For quick questions – can drop in before or after school or lunch (not class time)
- Students can make appointment in counseling office to see a counselor or via email
- Dependent on school – time during day, Flex time
- How families access a counselor
- Email to make an appointment with your child’s counselor (call counseling office if no email)
- 8th grade parents should wait till September to start meeting high school counselor
- For questions regarding course selection this year, contact middle school counselor
College and Career Center
- Resource for STUDENTS – families may accompany student for scheduled meeting (starting 10th grade)
- Issaquah High School link
- Liberty High School link
- Skyline High School link
- Mission to help students plan for post-secondary goals
- Helps with high school and beyond planning
- Separate office at each school than the Counseling Center
- Provides resources to help student plan for life after high school
- Helps facilitate the following
- Career exploration
- Post-High School Planning
- College and Military visits – during school time, excused absence from class grades 11-12
- Scholarship Information and resources/information on how to pay for college
- Information on technical colleges, trade programs, two-year colleges
- Volunteer, Internship and Part-time job opportunities
- College Essay support during senior year
College Entrance requirements
- Check website of college and universities as student is planning courses
- Vary from college to college some examples include UW link, U of O, DigiPen
- Grade Point Average often a factor (GPA not weighted – per Washington State law)
- Many also include essays and extracurricular activities
- Many colleges look for well-rounded students who have demonstrated leadership skills and doing extracurricular activities
- More and more colleges do not require SAT/ACT (Washington State schools do not require SAT/ACT scores, it is optional with no weight on score)
High School Athletics
- Required documents for sports registration can be uploaded to Final Forms
- Sports fee at each high school (Financial aid available contact ASB bookkeeper)
- Physicals are required to participate in athletics (check time frame for physical)
- Check each school's website for start dates of sport or when the season starts.
- For sports registration information and documents - visit Final Form
- Contact the Athletic department at each school for more information
- Check eligibility for sports.
Clubs, Extracurricular Opportunities, Part-Time Job and Volunteer Opportunities
- Check school website and announcements about club and extracurricular opportunities (Under ASB tab on website)
- Best way for students to feel connected to the school and to make new friends
- Important for the social wellbeing of students – meeting friends and exploring interests
- MANY opportunities for students – varied interests
- After-school buses for transportation (similar to middle schools)
- Can be used to demonstrate leadership
- Often a factor how colleges view students
- Outside school – community leadership opportunities (see Cultural Bridges magazine)
- Volunteer service and part-time jobs can also be listed in college admission forms
- Special Ed – IEP will follow students to high school
- 504 and Health Plans – follow students (staff will connect)
- Transportation – Check route
- Activity bus also available
- Assigned laptops in the high school
- Check grades on Canvas
- Check attendance and graduation milestones in Family Access
Course Selection Events at the High Schools
- Students and parents are encouraged to attend events at the high schools regarding 9th grade (Events in February/March)
- Middle Schools will send weekly bulletins to families with more information before events. Look for information in school bulletins in February/March
- High School counselors present to 8th grade students about high school course selection.
- Students submit their course selection directly through Student Access.
- Gibson Ek – Online application open – Due Feb. 28
Dates of High School Family Night for Transition
Check for dates or updates on the school's website
- Issaquah High School - February 14
- Liberty High School - March 7 (tentative 6 pm start time)
- Skyline High School
- March 1 - Freshman Orientation Night for incoming 9th grade students, 6:00 pm - 8:15 p.m.
- March 2 – Zoom Qn A session 5 to 6:30 pm
- March 7 – Zoom Qn A session 5 to 6:00 pm
- Applications are open from January 4th through February 28th
- Students are selected for admission by a lottery that is held on March 2nd.
- Information can be found on the Gibson Ek website.
- Students and families are invited to attend our Gibson Ek Open House on
- February 1st from 5:00-6:30 PM
- Tour the school
- Meet students and staff from Gibson Ek
- To learn more, please watch this informational video
What can parents do to prepare for their child’s transition to HS?
- Visit and become familiar with the information provided on the high school their child will attend.
- Talk to your 8th grade about their interests and plans for high school and beyond. Make a flexible plan if appropriate but recognize students may not be sure of future plans (career or interests).
- Review and discuss the options in the course guide for classes in 9th grade with your child.
- In 9th and 10th grade, build a relationship with the high school counselor.
- Talk to other high school parents and students about high school (courses, clubs, extracurricular activities, factors considered for course selection, etc.).
- Subscribe and read weekly bulletins for your high school and check the ISD District Website for Announcements.
- If you have any questions, email YOUR child’s middle school counselor this year.
- Attend school’s incoming 9th grade course selection in February/March
- Be sure your child attends the schools’ Freshman Orientation events in August (be on the look out in the weekly bulletin)
- TALK to your child about what they learned in school about high school preparation, Xello, etc.
- If you have any questions that are general to all high school in the ISD, please contact a Family Partnership Liaison.