Brookline moves to delevel ninth grade

Anisa Sharma and Connor Quigley

NESPA Winner: News story, 2023

The Cypress, Brookline High School, Brookline, MA

 A new structure of 9th grade leveling could be just around the corner. For many years, curriculum coordinators and program coordinators, special education administrators and teachers have wrestled with the goals and consequences of deleveling 9th grade.

In a Brookline School Committee (BSC) meeting on Jan. 19, 2023, Head of School Anthony Meyer presented the School Improvement Plan (SIP) goal of Reimagining 9th Grade. To fulfill the SIP goal, the set timeline includes regular meetings and course pilots. Coordinators are bringing this mandate to their respective departments to discuss implementation.

Gabe McCormick, Senior Director of Teaching and Learning for PSB, said the effort to reimagine 9th grade was initially spearheaded by Lesley Ryan Miller, former Deputy Superintendent of Teaching & Learning, and other district administrators.

In Fall 2019, the social studies department introduced the high school’s first required unleveled course in a core subject for 9th graders, World History I: Identity, Status, and Power (WHISP). The class centers around collaborative, project-based learning.

Following the introduction of WHISP, McCormick said the effort was interrupted by COVID-19. He said after the district came out of emergency mode, the effort to delevel has been thought about more strategically and systematically.

In the meeting on Jan. 19, Meyer said administrators were concerned that students tend to stay at the level they are recommended for in 8th grade. Research by the social studies department prior to the development of WHISP confirmed that students in college preparatory 9th grade social studies tended to continue with that level.


Read the full story here.