Choosing the right path is challenging and rewarding

October 3, 2017
Superintendent Mark RossNavigating high school can be a challenging and sometimes confusing experience. Understanding what it takes to graduate, knowing which fees to pay, and choosing a class schedule can often be difficult and stressful—and that’s just from the parent’s perspective. Being a 15-year-old student with only four years to figure out “what am I going to be in life?” can seem daunting and overwhelming.

To help students get started on the right path, we highly recommend looking at an academic/career pathway as early as middle school. While we are not suggesting that every student should have their career goals all laid out by the end of seventh grade, we do suggest that students start having conversations with parents, teachers and school counselors about their interests and ambitions.

A great thing about your Battle Ground Schools is that we have a multitude of options for students as they enter the ninth grade and beyond. Students can take rigorous college preparatory classes such as Advanced Placement, hands-on vocational classes, science exploratory classes at CASEE, and full or part-time online classes offered in a variety of educational experiences from comprehensive high schools to parent partnership programs. The challenge for students is knowing where they want to end up after high school and creating a pathway to get there.

For students currently in the ninth grade and younger, there are new minimum graduation requirements. The 24-credit diploma, adopted by the Washington legislature two years ago, will be a standard requirement for all students in schools across the state. One credit equates to a student taking and passing a yearlong class. Conversely, .5 of a credit equals a course taken for half the year, or one semester.

With our high schools running on a typical six-period day, a student needs to pass all six classes for all four years to be on track to graduate, leaving little room for a student to fail a class. Students who fail a class would need to “recover” the credit in summer school or credit recovery classes offered at all our secondary schools during the day and after school.

As part of the 24 credits, students must satisfy credit requirements in specific subject areas, including English, math, science courses with labs, health and fitness, career and technical education, arts and/or world languages, and elective courses tied to that student’s pathway choice. Students are also required to pass standardized tests in language arts and math to earn their diploma, and we anticipate science will soon become an additional testing requirement.

While all of this may sound a little overwhelming, parents can take comfort in the fact that Battle Ground schools have outstanding secondary counselors, teachers and administrators to help students get through the maze of requirements. We know that students are in a constant state of flux in what life choices they are making, and it’s in the nature of adolescent brains to be perpetually indecisive.

However, even though plans continually evolve and change with individual circumstances, experience teaches us that planning and preparation are the keys to long-term success. It’s not too early for students in middle school to visit a college campus or speak to someone in an occupational field they have interest in. Students should take career surveys seriously, and the High School and Beyond plan is something parents and students should sit down and do together and revisit often throughout high school.

Both parents and students should ask questions of counselors and teachers and be aware of their options. Use the resources we have available in our schools and through college and career websites. Planning a pathway for the future may seem difficult and overwhelming at times, but the rewards of exploration and planning can last a lifetime.


Mark Ross, Superintendent
Battle Ground Public Schools


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Brush Prairie, WA 98606

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Battle Ground, WA 98604



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