A grade-by-grade guide to High School and Beyond

College & Career Readiness, High School Success, Parent & Family Engagement, Parent & Family Newsletter | 11/15/2019

Natalie Hester
Former State Organizing Director, Stand for Children Washington


Below is the third edition of our Parents & Families newsletter for the 2019-20 school year. If you'd like to receive this monthly in your email inbox, sign up here.

Para información en español, visite este sitio web.

Good morning,

One of the things that keeps my job interesting is that I am constantly interacting with parents and families with children of all ages. While some folks have kids in elementary school, others have college graduates and high school seniors. Others have a niece or nephew in middle school and an infant at home. 

I’m here to support Washington families, regardless of your child’s age. That means I also do my best to stay familiar with what you can do to support your kids wherever they are on their academic journey. 

Hear from other parents and family members like you about how they're supporting their students in school in this video from Ready Washington.

To finish up our series on the High School and Beyond Plan, a state requirement your child must complete to graduate high school, I’m going to review the step-by-step process of what you should expect your child to be doing from 7th grade to senior year. One thing to note is that each district implements the HSBP on their own, which means there is a lot of variation across the state, and your school might be slightly different. 

I hope this can be a helpful resource as you consider your own children and where they are in the process.

A Grade-by-Grade Guide to High School and Beyond Planning

7th Grade:

  • Explore opportunities to take advanced, honor, or high school level classes like pre-algebra while they’re still in middle school.
  • Start initial conversations about what your child is interested in and what type of education they might need after high school to achieve their goals.
  • Explore careerbridge.wa.gov with your child and discuss the types of career options you find.

8th Grade:

  • Fill out the High School and Beyond Plan (ask your child’s counselor for details about what this looks like in your district).
  • Complete the College Bound Scholarship by June 30th if your family meets the requirements to secure college scholarships for your child. Learn more here: www.collegebound.wa.gov
  • Prepare for high school by creating their ninth grade class schedule with their career and education goals in mind. Ask about dual credit classes like AP, Running Start, and College in the High School.

9th Grade:

  • By 9th grade, whether your student has regular attendance is a better predictor of their academic success and graduation than their 8th grade test scores. Make a plan to check in with them about how they’re feeling. Share your own stories about what high school was like.
  • Revisit careerbridge.wa.gov with your child and discuss if their interests and goals have changed. Use their updated goals and interests to discuss high school graduation requirements and what classes and grades they’ll need to reach their goals.
  • Start an activity log document that will eventually become their first resume. Include all extracurricular activities, volunteer experiences, awards, and classes.

10th Grade:

  • Explore dual credit options with your child for classes that will engage them, keep their career options open, and save them both time and money when they get to college. Ask your district about state resources to cover any associated costs.
  • Discuss the option of taking the PSAT with your child and how they can use their score reports to identify academic areas they need to work on.
  • Schedule a meeting with your child and their counselor to discuss their class schedule and what resources are available to prepare them for life after high school.
  • Update their activity log document with 10th grade activities, or start one if you haven’t yet.

11th Grade:

  • Guide them in identifying their top 4-year university, 2-year college or technical education programs of choice and exploring the cost and financial aid options available.
  • Continue to update your activity log and gather materials to apply for major scholarships, including those with early deadlines.
  • Ask your school counselor what resources are available to help your child prepare for the SAT/ACT. possible apprenticeships, job shadow opportunities, and college visits.

12th Grade:

  • Complete their High School and Beyond Plan with a resume/activity log and any other requirements their high school has. If they need to retake classes in order to graduate, set up a meeting with your child’s counselor as early in the year as possible to discuss options.
  • Ensure your child takes the SAT and/or ACT so that they can keep their options open for education after high school. A high score can help them earn scholarships.
  • Support your student in completing the FAFSA (Federal Application for Student Aid) and WAFSA (Washington’s state financial aid application) to learn what financial aid, grants, scholarships, and affordable loan options they have. Applications open October 1st.
  • Help them apply for the education and/or apprenticeship programs of their choice. 
  • Discuss with your child what they’re looking forward to and what they’re nervous about for when they graduate. Share your own experiences and support them on this major next step!

If you have any specific questions or are searching for resources to support your children, please don’t hesitate to reach out and I’ll do my best to help you navigate to find what you need. If you want to dive even deeper, ReadySetGrad.wa.gov is an awesome, in-depth Washington resource that breaks down what you need to be doing in each grade level to prepare for life after high school.

Next month we’ll be switching the focus of these newsletters for a new series. Stay tuned and let me know if you have any suggestions for what I should cover. Talk soon.


State Organizing Director
Stand for Children Washington

P.S. If you’re looking for support in advocating for your student at school, become a member of Stand for Children and I'll reach out to connect with you about advocacy training and resources.

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