Q. HOW DO STUDENTS JOIN HIGHLAND TECH HIGH (HTH)?
A. HTH students apply and are chosen by lottery. Preference is given to students with siblings already attending HTH. To enroll, click here.
Q. HOW ARE STUDENTS GRADED?
A. Students are graded according to their performance. Instead of "averaging" and hoping students learn enough to pass, we require students to "master" the standard by reaching proficient or higher. Students are measured according to their own performance. The system is set up as follows:
Emerging = student is beginning to address the standard
Developing = student is trying hard, and almost there
Proficient = student has mastered standard. They know and can do it.
Advanced = student has mastered the standard and is able to teach others or model for others how to master the standard
Q. HOW ARE STUDENTS ASSESSED?
A. Highland Tech High believes in high accountability. As one of the four focus areas, all stakeholders are held accountable: The school to provide the opportunities in a systemic approach; The teachers in professional performance standards; The students in multiple type assessments, standardized tests; The parents in supporting their children and ownership of the philosophy; The business partners and community to work collaboratively to assure all kids succeed.
Students are assessed in three categories:
1) Skills Assessment = traditional, showing mastery of knowledge (knowing it)
2) Analytical Assessment = application of knowledge (doing it)
3) Contextual Assessment = real-life application of knowledge (living it)
On-line Grading / Educate:
All student records are kept on a secure server accessible on-line. Parent and student have access to their own records only. These on-line records show progress in each of the content areas, trend data of how long it is taking to complete a level, and schedules. Each of the 8 content areas shows the level students are currently working on, how much they have completed in that level.
Sample Grades (Educate):
As you dig deeper into the on-line grading site, you will find explanations of each of the levels, and each of the standards.
You may also view the charts to see trend data, like how long it is taking to complete a level.
Q. HOW DO STUDENTS FIND THEIR G.P.A.?
A. Calibrations are done when students graduate HTH to enroll in college or other schools. A formula that is computer-based can do the conversion for more traditional systems. However, colleges, businesses and others support HTH's reporting and graduation systems that provide clear information on each students' repot cards.
Sample report card:
Q. HOW CAN I FIND OUT HOW MY STUDENT IS DOING?
A. There are numerous opportunities to check on your student's performance.
Stakeholder meetings (first Wednesday of each month, from 6:00 - 8:00 pm)
Advisor (each student has an advisor that can answer any question or find the answer)
Teacher web page (each HTH teacher has a web site that is being developed that posts assignments)
Student-led conferences (celebration event hosted by your student)
One-on-one meetings with individual or groups of teachers (schedule with teacher or front office)
Q. WHAT IS HIGHLAND TECH HIGH’S CURRICULUM?
A. Highland Tech High offers a well rounded, vigorous curriculum in each of eight content areas:
• reading and literature; (Reading)
• communication literacy – oral and written; (Writing)
• numeric literacy (Math)
• science and global environments; (Science)
• social environments; (History)
• career and content literacy (Business)
• personal, social, service skills (Character Education)
• technological literacy (Technology)
Each of these content areas is divided into developmental levels which are the basis for the ‘scope and sequence of each class. Students must demonstrate proficiency for each performance target within each level before moving on to the next level. There are no “A, B, C,” grades. At HTH, mastery is required for 100% in skills, and 20-80% in contextual or analytical. Students move at their own pace, advancing in levels as they are ready. All curriculum is aligned with national standards, state standards, and district standards.
Q. HOW WAS THE CURRICULUM DEVELOPED?
A. The curriculum evolved through extensive research of successful educational models and best teaching practices, examining criteria of successful middle and secondary schools, encompassing standards and, most importantly, incorporating the shared vision of stakeholders in Anchorage. Students are involved in community service, shadowships and internships providing an extensive School to Work program. Because students are involved in the work community, students are expected to attend school in ‘business-casual’ attire.
Q. WHAT RESOURCES ARE USED TO TEACH EACH COURSE?
A. Many different resources are used for learning including textbooks, electronic media, library research, interviews, and hands on discovery. The stakeholders, parents, teachers, community members and students, continue to make recommendations regarding curriculum resources.
Q. DO STUDENTS ATTEND ALL EIGHT SUBJECT AREAS EACH DAY?
A. Students focus on the cores of communication literacy, reading/literature and numeric literacy for a two-hour block each day. Reading, writing, speaking and mathematic skills are also incorporated into thematic studies each day.
Technological literacy, science and global environments, social environments and personal, social, service skills, are combined in thematic courses, (topic areas of high interest) which are studied in-depth daily.
Content literacy, personal, social, service skills, and personal interest courses are developed during a student’s two-hour independent studies coursework.
Q. WHAT COURSES CAN BE TAKEN AT EACH GRADE LEVEL?
A. Highland students have opportunities to take “courses” that are offered each semester on a rotating basis, or incorporate performance indicators from different levels or courses in their independent studies. Students are not “required” to complete certain classes during specific grade levels.
Q. HOW ARE STUDENTS TAUGHT ALL THE REQUIRED CURRICULUM WITHIN THEIR 6 YEARS AT HIGHLAND?
A. Teachers follow Best Teaching Practices providing the most effective instructional strategies for students. Students are engaged in drill and practice, practical application, interactive simulation, and real life connections.
Q. HOW ARE STUDENTS GRADED ON THEIR CLASSWORK AND HOMEWORK?
A. Teachers use many different types of assessments including contextual assessments measuring skills applied in real world situations; analytical assessments, which measures the application of learned skills; skill assessments, which demonstrates knowledge through recall; and students have the opportunity to self-assess their learning.
Q. HOW IS THAT DIFFERENT FROM OTHER HIGH SCHOOLS IN ANCHORAGE?
A. Highland students will learn many of the same concepts taught at other schools, however, their opportunities for learning and the amount of information they retain is very different. Students have the opportunity to study ideas and issues within specific subject areas and utilize applicable skills through project-based, thematic curriculum. Students are able to see the relevance of what they are studying and how these ideas and issues are applicable to their future.
In addition, all students who attend Highland Tech High will be involved with our community through community service, shadowships, and internships.
Q. WHAT IS STANDARDS-BASED EDUCATION AND HOW IS THAT DIFFERENT THAN EARNING CREDITS IN THE TRADITIONAL SCHOOL SYSTEM?
A. In the standards-based model utilized at Highland, a student must “pass” a course by demonstrating proficiency in every performance skill at each developmental level. Students and parents have access to all rubrics that show was mastery is required. A “proficient” grade is required. Students who master the standard, and are able to teach others receive “advanced.” Grades are fluid, and can be improved on at any time. The defined levels of proficiency for each performance skill are assessed and documented using skill assessments (traditional recall), analytical assessments (the application of skills and knowledge), and contextual assessments (measures skills applied in the context of a real world situation).
Students are assessed at each level providing opportunities to show what they already know and are able to do. Some students may need to practice skills that were forgotten or not learned, but will not need to revisit those areas in which they are proficient.
Under the current ASD system, a student could have earned credit toward graduation by receiving a passing grade of “D” (60%). As a result, a student under this system could potentially miss up to 40% of the curriculum and still be passed to the next level.
Conversely, if a student that failed a course in another high school, he/she may be proficient in many of the performance indicators and will only need to revisit those skills not learned before.
Q. HOW DO HIGHLAND COURSES RELATE TO ASD GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS?
A. Highland Tech High is a standards-based education model, so graduation requirements are more inclusive. Students complete all required developmental levels in each of the eight skill sets to graduate, which provides a solid foundation for post graduation employment or higher education opportunities.
On a transcript HTH courses translate to 33.5 credits, meeting the minimum 22.5 credit graduation requirement set by the Anchorage School District. Students will also need to pass the HSGQE.
Q. WHAT INFORMATION APPEARS ON REPORT CARDS TO PARENTS?
A. HTH does not issue traditional report cards. Instead, all grades are accessible on-line and are real time, meaning they change immediately when grades are entered. Students and parents are aware of their standing at all times, as they are the ones responsible for communicating with teachers and advisors. Students who fall behind a reasonable pace in a class will be placed on “Academic Review”. This notice is sent via e-mail to parents and students. Step 1 allows students to meet with their teacher to agree on a due date for proficient work. Step 2 includes a meeting with the parents, and Step 3 is consideration for in-school suspension until work in completed. A separate notice will be given to parents/guardians when a student has successfully completed a developmental level.
Q. WHAT LETTER GRADES APPEAR ON CUMULATIVE RECORDS AND TRANSCRIPTS?
A. Cumulative records and transcripts will maintain a combination of the traditional (A-F) letter grade system and the standards-based model descriptors ("proficient" and "advanced"). Grades and descriptors only appear on records and transcripts upon completion of the coursework at each developmental level.
Q. HOW WILL GPA’S AND CLASS RANKING BE COMPUTED?
A. When this type of information is necessary (e.g. for college or scholarship applications), the following “formula” applies to all performance-based courses:
“Advanced Proficient” = 4 grade points; “Proficient” = 3 grade points.
No C’s, D’s or F’s (2, 1 or 0 grade points) are earned because students cannot pass an standards-based class with less than 80% proficiency. Standards-based courses have a value of 0.5 or 1.0 units of credit. To compute the GPA, multiply grade points by the unit of credit for each type of course; then sum the grade points and divide by the total number of courses.
Q. WHAT GRADES APPEAR ON A TRANSCRIPT IF A STUDENT HAS NOT COMPLETED A PHASE BY THE END OF THE REPORTING PERIOD OR TRANSFERS OUT OF THE CHARTER SCHOOL?
A. Rather than place an “IP” or “INC” on a transcript at the end of a semester, a standards-based course title will not appear on the transcript until such time as the student actually completes the performance indicators (though it will appear on report cards).
In the case of students who transfer out of the school or district before successfully completing a developmental level, only the course title will appear on the official transcript with the grade of “IP” ("in progress") followed by the letter grade that a student had at the time of transfer (e.g. IP/B). A separate progress report will be attached to the transcript to indicate a student’s progress in each course.
Q. CAN STUDENTS EXIT/GRADUATE AFTER PASSING THE HSCQE?
A. Standards-based courses are designed to prepare students to pass the HSGQE and benchmark examinations. But passing these does not necessarily mean a student has mastered every performance indicator required by the state and/or district. The Highland curriculum covers much more than the HSGQE exam and benchmark exams assess. According to the teacher’s manual for the HSGQE preparatory test, the HSGQE is not an “exit” exam. That is to say, it does not test every performance outcome in the Alaska State Standards. It is a “snapshot” of a student’s ability to meet a minimum number of competencies. Therefore, no student will be given academic credit based upon results from these state assessments.
Q. ARE ANY STUDENTS ‘RETAINED’ UNDER THE HIGHLAND ACADEMIC MODEL?
A. No. Students do not repeat “classes” because they fall behind other students. Instead, they continue to work at their developmental level and will receive whatever assistance they need to demonstrate proficiency on each performance indicator within a level. A student may receive this assistance during the school day, during “toolbox,” (study hall after school), or possibly during Interim studies or summer studies. This enables each student to maintain their self-directed motivation for learning.
Q. HOW WILL THE SCHOOL HELP STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEED OR HAVING DIFFICULTY PASSING A LEVEL?
A. Each student will be assessed to determine if they need additional time for learning. Re-teaching and practice may take place in after school tutorials, or during part of the project/workstation time. Students may work with “specialists” in a content area to help them with specific skills. For students who request additional time and help, they may work toward reaching their goals during Interim studies or Summer studies.
Q. IS THERE A DRESS CODE AT HIGHLAND TECH?
A. Yes. Highland Tech Dress Code Policy