This guide on choosing classes at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS), Cambridge, MA’s public high school, was written by a parent of a 9th-grader. The information here applies to all students. Additional information for CRLS students in need of advanced learning is here.
Here are the basics —
Course Catalog: One of the wonderful things about CRLS is the wide range of classes available. You can download the course catalog from the CRLS website.
Block Schedule: CRLS students take 4 courses in the fall and 4 in the spring, like college. For example, a student might take science in fall and social studies in the spring. Each class period is 80 minutes long.
Course Levels: Students can choose which level class they want to take for any given course. The levels offered are:
College Prep 1 (CP1) = regular
College Prep 2 (CP2) = extra help
Honors = additional challenge
Advanced Placement (AP) = college-level
Some additional notes:
- 9th grade CP English and Language Arts (ELA) and Math are two-semester courses (fall AND spring).
- Honors ELA and Math are one-semester courses (fall OR spring). That means students do more work with higher expectations in half the time. Students also make room in their schedules to take one more course.
- CP and Honors Social Studies are both 1 semester.
- 9th grade science (physics) does not have a separate honors course, but students can do honors assignments during the semester to get honors credit, this is called “embedded honors”.
- CRLS encourages every student to take at least one honors course each year.
- Entering ISP students usually take 3 or 4 honors courses each year.
- The AVID program is for students with strong academic ability who can benefit from mentoring, tutoring, and support in learning time-management, organizational, notetaking, and other skills
Some notes about math:
The math series is:
HS Math 1, Algebra
HS Math 2, Geometry
HS Math 3, Algebra 2
In past years, the 8th grade ISP class completed half to two-thirds of the Algebra course. The teachers strongly recommended that the kids start with the HS1 Algebra course in 9th grade. The first couple months was review, but went much faster and deeper than the 8th grade class, and after the review, the new material was quite challenging.
8th graders who are scheduled to take the full Algebra course during the spring can go into Math 2 Geometry in the fall when they enter 9th grade at CRLS.
Many 9th graders take Honors HS Math 1 Algebra in the fall and Honors HS Math 2 Geometry in the spring to prepare to take Calculus as seniors.
Advanced, motivated math students have the option of finishing the full HS math series in two or three years, then taking advanced classes at Harvard Extension.
About the Rindge School of Technical Arts (RSTA) —
The RSTA is a great program offering vocational (“technical arts”) courses to all CRLS students. RSTA offers traditional vocational courses (automotive repair, carpentry, cooking, nursing, office skills) as well as courses in newer fields (web design, graphic design, biotech, computer repair).
The 9th grade RSTA Exploratory course includes about a week of each RSTA course. The students get to learn basic skills in each area, learn about what people do when they work in that field, and find out what they need to do to get a job in that field.
About half of CRLS 9th graders (including students in CP and Honors classes) takes the RSTA Exploratory course. Each student follows a different rotation through the different fields. The students are mixed up so they get to meet a different group of kids every week. If students wish to take other RSTA courses, the Exploratory course is a prerequisite.
About a third of CRLS 10th grade class takes an RSTA course in one field for a full semester or year, either as career training or as an elective. Some students then opt to concentrate in one of the RSTA career areas for the last 2 years of high school.
Regarding other classes: In the CRLS course catalog you can read about the many choices for languages, fine arts (painting, photography, etc), and performing arts (music, dance, and drama). I think you and your child will enjoy making your selections!
A final note about scheduling: You and your child will send in class choices in the winter. When you receive your child’s schedule from CRLS in spring or summer, check it carefully! Schedules often come back with all the difficult courses lumped into one semester and the easy ones in the other. Occasionally the wrong class gets scheduled. The schedule will come with contact information for your child’s guidance counselor; contact the counselor to request changes. It will be much easier to make them in spring or summer than after the school year starts!