Academic Honors

Criteria for placement in honors courses

Science: Honors and Accelerated

To meet the needs of budding scientists, Minnetonka offers both honors level science and an innovative Accelerated Science sequence.

QUALIFYING PLACEMENT CRITERIA FOR HONORS SCIENCE 7 or 8

The Honors Science course is offered in 7th and 8th grade. It provides highly motivated and knowledgeable students with a science experience built on complex activities and assignments, in-depth conversations with peers and teachers, rigorous content and high expectations.

honors science Course
Criteria
Honors Science 7 (Life Science)Successful completion of Science 6, at or above the 90th percentile on the NWEA Science assessment, at or above the 90th percentile on NWEA Math and Reading.
Honors Science 8 (Earth Science)Successful completion of Honors Science 7 or exceptional performance in Science 7, and 90th percentile on recent NWEA Math and Reading assessments


QUALIFYING PLACEMENT CRITERIA FOR ACCELERATED SCIENCE

Our Accelerated Science Sequence is a three-year program. It begins in sixth grade and is targeted to meet the distinct needs of the top five percent of science students. This profile of student has an advanced level of content knowledge, is innately curious and passionate about science, and is able to quickly comprehend and apply science concepts. To hone these unique skills, our Accelerated Science sequence will cover three years of middle school science curriculum (physical, life, earth) in two years by compacting the essential concepts from each core content area. The curriculum will focus on inquiry and project-based learning and will include an introduction to chemistry and physics (matter, elements, compounds, energy, waves, forces, motion), cell biology, living organisms, ecology, earth composition and structure, earth hydrosphere and atmosphere and the solar system.

After completing the first two years of the Accelerated Science sequence, students will take an innovative Applied Physics and Chemistry course during their eighth grade year. This course will emphasize research and experimentation methodology through open and guided inquiry. The curriculum will focus on the essential content and skills that form the foundation for high school AP Physics and AP Chemistry.

Accelerated Science Course
criteria
Accelerated Science 6Historically, approximately 11% of sixth graders are placed in Accelerated Science.
  • Students must score at or above 95 percentile on spring of 5th grade NWEA Science Assessment or exceptional performance on the 5th grade MCA Science assessment, and at or above 95th percentile on recent NWEA Reading and Math assessments.
Accelerated Science 7 (Life Science)
  • Successful completion of Accelerated Science 6
  • Or 99th percentile on Spring of 6th grade NWEA Science Assessment and exceptional performance in Science 6, and 95th percentile on recent NWEA Reading and Math assessments.
Accelerated Science 8 (Applied Physics and Chemistry)
  • Successful completion of Accelerated Science 7
  • Or exceptional performance in Science 7 and 99th percentile on spring of 7th grade NWEA Science assessment, and 95th percentile on recent NWEA Reading and Math assessments.

Accelerated Math

Minnetonka students have the opportunity to accelerate in mathematics during elementary or middle school. Our middle schools offer three levels of math in 6th and 7th grades and four levels of math in 8th grade. Our most advanced math students may begin middle school in Algebra and progress through Geometry and Higher Algebra by 8th grade, laying the foundation to complete AP Calculus AB and BC, and even Multivariable Calculus in high school. Some students will begin in Pre-Algebra and progress through Algebra and Geometry by 8th grade. Most students complete Algebra by 8th grade.

Students are carefully placed in math levels to ensure they are appropriately challenged. Placement is determined by a student’s standardized assessment results and classroom performance. We recognize that students may develop their passion and strength for mathematics at different ages; therefore, we provide opportunities for students to enter advanced math classes throughout middle school. For students whose assessment data and classroom performance indicate that placement in a higher math level may be appropriate, there are two opportunities to accelerate through curriculum: by completing an independent study course and passing a final exam, students may test out of Pre-Algebra during the summer before 6th or 7th grade. Students may follow this same process to test out of Geometry in the summer before 9th grade.

Note: Students may not complete Algebra as an independent study because the concepts of Algebra provide the foundation for all advanced mathematics.

QUALIFYING PLACEMENT CRITERIA

Course
Criteria
Pre-Algebra 6 Consistently scoring at or above the 90th percentile on the NWEA Math assessment
Algebra 6

Historically, approximately 9% of sixth graders are placed in Algebra.

  • Successful completion of Accelerated Math in 5th grade
  • Or students with RIT score of 258 or greater on the spring NWEA Math assessment are eligible to take Pre-Algebra final; score at least 85% on Pre-Algebra final (taken in May or August)
Algebra 7
  • Successful completion of Pre-Algebra 6
  • Or exceptional performance in Math 6 and 95th percentile on spring of 6th grade NWEA Math assessment and score at least 85% on Pre-Algebra final in August
Geometry 7Successful completion of Algebra 6 (B- or better)
Geometry 8Successful completion of Algebra 7 (B- or better)
Higher Algebra 8Successful completion of Geometry 7 (B- or better)

Honors Language Arts

Honors language arts is available beginning in 6th grade.

QUALIFYING PLACEMENT CRITERIA

Honors Language Arts Course
Criteria
Honors Language Arts 6Historically, approximately 22% of 6th graders are placed in Honors Language Arts
  • 2 of the last 3 NWEA Reading scores at the 95th percentile and exemplary scores on the fifth grade summative writing assessment (taken in March)
Honors Language Arts 7
  • Successful completion of Honors Language Arts 6
  • Or 6th grade students with 2 of the last 3 NWEA Reading scores at the 90th percentile and exemplary scores on the 6th grade summative writing assessment (taken in March)
Honors Language Arts 8
  • Successful completion of Honors Language Arts 7
  • Or 7th grade students with 2 of the last 3 NWEA Reading scores at the 90th percentile and exemplary scores on the seventh grade summative writing assessment (taken in March)

Honors Social Studies

In 8th grade, students with a passion for history may consider Honors Global Studies, which requires greater depth of knowledge and complexity.

QUALIFYING PLACEMENT CRITERIA

course
Criteria
Honors Global Studies 8
  • Successful completion of Honors Language Arts 7
  • Or exceptional performance in Social Studies, 1 of 2 Reading scores (MCA or NWEA) at 95th percentile and exceptional performance on the Global Studies Independent Essay

As individual learners, students may qualify for challenging coursework based on their interest and ability. Encouraging students to learn beyond the confines of traditional grade levels and classroom work raises their expectations and inspires them to excel.

Placement Standards

The Director of Advanced Learning Programs and the Director of Assessment, in collaboration with school principals, determine student course placement based on the following standards:

Placement criteria are meaningful:

  • Criteria identify students based on skills and knowledge that are central to success in the course.

Placement criteria are non-arbitrary:

  • One “cut point” alone does not preclude a student from participation. There is a range where other factors can be considered.

Placement processes are equitable:

  • Students are placed following the same criteria regardless of school, teacher or parent advocacy.

Placement processes are transparent:

  • The process is clear, coherent, readily available and understandable to parents.

Placement Process

The Director of Advanced Learning Programs and the Director of Assessment analyze data and recommend student placement through multiple paths:

  1. Students with data meeting honors/accelerated criteria are automatically placed in an advanced course. Exception: A parent request for non-honors/accelerated placement is honored.
  2. Students with data that is close to meeting criteria undergo an automatic File Review. The District gathers expanded data and sends it to the principal along with recommendations. Expanded data may include NWEA/MCA history and classroom assessment history.
  3. Placement is communicated to parents by school staff after file reviews are complete. After placement is communicated in mid-July, questions may be directed to the school principal.
  4. Students placed in an honors or accelerated class will have the opportunity to continue in honors class—from quarter to quarter and from year to year—if they have consistently maintained at least a B- average in each quarter.

President's Award for Educational Excellence

The President's Award for Educational Excellence honors 8th grade students for their achievement and hard work. The program provides individual recognition from the U.S. President and the U.S. Secretary of Education to those students whose outstanding efforts have enabled them to meet challenging standards of excellence.

To be eligible, students must meet requirements, including grade point average and state tests performance.

  1. Grade Point Average: Students are to earn a grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. When computing the cumulative grade point averages, all middle school years are to be included through the fall semester of the 8th grade.
  2. State Tests and Nationally-Normed Achievement Tests: High achievement at the 90th percentile or above on the MCA in reading or math.

Students who earn the President's Award for Educational Excellence are recognized at a breakfast event at their school in May. Parents are invited to attend.

Academic Award Recipients

contact

Contact your middle school guidance counselor to discuss honors courses and placement.

MME
952-401-5200

MMW
952-401-5300