Effective Practices : Enrollment
Transitions into the High School
Enrollment Section 4
1. Which individual or group is responsible for managing the student transition process from grade 8 to the high school? Describe briefly the responsibilities of this person or group.
2. List the various individuals involved in the transition decision/process, and describe briefly their roles. (Participants may include the grade 8 teacher, special subject teachers, high school class sponsor, the enrollment director, curative or remedial teachers, and others.)
3. Describe the process by which a decision is made to accept a student from the lower school into the high school. Be sure to include a calendar for when various steps in the decision making process are ideally undertaken.
4. Describe the key elements of the philosophy that informs your policies, practices and procedures in the area of transitions from the lower school into the high school.
5. What is particularly effective in your work with 8th grade to high school transitions?
6. If you could change some aspect of your work in transitioning students from the lower school to the high school, what would you like to change and why?
Which individual or group is responsible for managing the student transition process from grade 8 to the high school? Describe briefly the responsibilities of this person or group.
In most schools the Enrollment Director works in partnership with the designated representative(s) of the high school faculty. Some high schools have a High School Administrator who is the contact point with the high school faculty. One school with its high school in a separate location from the lower school has its own Admissions Director. All schools have an Admissions Committee that handles the work of interviewing, testing and selecting of students for the high school.
The Enrollment Director (either for the whole school or the high school) has overall responsibility for managing the process. The High School point person (Administrator or High School Admissions Director) coordinates the work of the Admissions Committee.
List the various individuals involved in the transition decision/process, and describe briefly their roles. (Participants may include the grade 8 teacher, special subject teachers, high school class sponsor, the enrollment director, curative or remedial teachers, and others.)
In addition to the individuals listed above, the 8th grade class teacher and subject teachers and the class sponsors (if already named) are involved in the acceptance process.
The 8th grade teacher and the subject teachers provide a picture of each student, either to the High School faculty as a whole or to the High School Admissions committee. They also provide suggestions as to how the high school could best meet the needs of particular students. The 8th grade class teacher is responsible for helping to make the students and their families available for parent meetings, high school main lessons, and so on. It is ideal if the class teacher can serve in a “cheerleading” role, supporting the students and their parents in their decision to move into the 9th grade at the Waldorf school.
The class sponsors often participate as members of the Admissions Committee.
Describe the process by which a decision is made to accept a student from the lower school into the high school. Be sure to include a calendar for when various steps in the decision making process are ideally undertaken.
Although the timelines vary from school to school, the basic elements of the high school transition process remain constant from school to school. (See: Eighth Grade High School Enrollment Process)
A meeting is generally held early in the fall at which 8th grade parents are given specific information about acceptance into the high school. A timeline for each of the key events is also distributed. Application packets are often distributed at this meeting, although some schools distribute application packets later in the year. (See: High School Student Questionnaire)
A high school information evening is held in the fall, allowing parents and students to hear about the high school, the curriculum and social life, and to have the opportunity to view samples of high school work. This evening is generally open to families in the current 7th and 8th grade, as well as families from outside who are considering applying to the high school.
Parents are encouraged to attend a High School Preview, an opportunity to sit in on a high school main lesson followed by a question and answer period. All 8th grade students are scheduled to visit in the high school, either for an entire day or for main lesson only.
Math and English assessment tests are given and interviews begin. Some schools interview students and parents; others choose to interview students only. (See: Waldorf High School Admissions Interview)
The 8th grade class teacher and subject teachers make recommendations to the high school Admissions Committee. Acceptance decisions are made and letters mailed.
Describe the key elements of the philosophy that informs your policies, practices and procedures in the area of transitions from the lower school into the high school..
Timeliness and clarity of process are the two key elements for parents, teachers and students.
The school reviews its process every year to ensure that it meets the needs of all participants, and works to remain flexible and open to change if needed.
The ability of the student, his will to do the work, and the support of the student by the parent(s) are all key parts of the acceptance decision making process. Each element is important to the student’s success in the high school.
The process should be designed to develop a clear picture so that a student’s success in the high school is assured.
We are looking for students who are eager and enthusiastic about coming to our high school and who demonstrate a willingness to try many different things offered in our curriculum. We look at what they bring socially to the class. We look at how supportive their parents are of both their student and Waldorf education. We look at their recommendations and their evaluations/transcripts to determine if they can truly take up the work of the high school.
The school works hard to clarify what is different between the grade school and the high school. It is sometimes hard for students to understand that the high school experience will be quite different. We also describe why the Waldorf high school is different from other high schools in the area.
Parents and students that choose to attend high school elsewhere are always told that the door is open if they should decide to return. These departing families are always invited to attend the high school open house the following fall. This provides an opportunity for alumni to reconnect with the school, and at times allows students who are not happy in their new high school environment to consider a return to the Waldorf high school. Typically one or two students return to the high school each year after a period elsewhere, and these students are often the most effective spokespeople for the benefits of a Waldorf high school education.
Clear communication with the middle school teachers about the high school’s standards helps to ensure that students and their families will do what is necessary to correct issues that could affect a student’s acceptance into and success in the high school.
We hope to encourage all of our 8th grade students to apply to our high school. For the last few years we have had strong support from those families, with virtually all of them applying.
What is particularly effective in your work with 8th grade to high school transitions?
The school is very clear about who has what responsibility in this process, and also has a very specific calendar that helps keep the process on track.
A well developed and consistently applied timeline is also very appreciated by the parents, as it takes the mystery and some of the anxiety out of the acceptance process.
The school understands how many students with remedial needs it can accommodate, and seeks to maintain a healthy balance in the classroom composition in this regard.
We find that having the 8th grade students come to the high school and visit classes and attend an Open House is very effective in helping them understand what the high school will be like and how it is very different from the grade school. We try to find events and activities to which we can offer special invitations for our own 8th graders to attend. Conversations with parents and their attendance at one of our Open Houses are very effective tools.
We encourage our 7th grade families to attend our Founders’ Night in May; it is an event in which we display student academic and artistic work from the entire year and offer a concert of music performed by all of the music classes (orchestra, jazz band, chamber choir, all-school choir, and guitar ensembles). One of the highlights is the use of current students as spokespeople for the high school. Another is the real strength of the high school faculty, and their ability to speak clearly and effectively about the experience the students will have in the Waldorf high school.
If you could change some aspect of your work in transitioning students from the lower school to the high school, what would you like to change and why?
We need to constantly re-educate middle school teachers about the high school’s standards so that all families know what the expectations are and have a clear idea as to whether their students are likely to be accepted to the high school.
We are considering the development of some evaluative or diagnostic test that is specific to the Waldorf environment. We do not currently require any kind of testing for admission. We would like to see a closer following of our students throughout the middle school (Grades 6-8), permitting the recommendation of educational assessments earlier than we now do. This might enable us to better meet the needs of students during the middle school years that could help us to then better prepare those with learning differences for high school work. Ideally, we would like to see the development of a Waldorf educational assessment rather than the generic main stream ones that parents must use at present.
We would eventually like to consider our internal process from 8th to 9th grade as a re-enrollment process rather than an application process. This is dependent on knowing which students might have challenges with the high school work so that they could be counseled to look at other high schools better suited to meeting their needs. On the other hand, it could also mean that we would change certain requirements and programs in the high school (including the addition of a learning resource center) that would enable these students to continue on in the high school.