Upper School: Grades 9–12
The Upper School aims to develop confident young adults who understand themselves as learners. During this chapter in their academic careers, they come to know what their strengths are what their distinct learning styles require—including which accommodations are available to assist them.
By the time they wear cap and gown, our Upper School students have matured into self-directed learners and self-advocates, ready to find success and fulfillment wherever their paths lead.
Westmark School is home to the only Los Angeles high school that specializes in language-based learning differences (LD). It is our privilege to help illuminate the futures of our students. Every day, as I watch their growth and progress, I have occasion to recall the famous lyric of my personal hero, Fred Rogers, of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. “I’m proud of you. I hope that you are proud of you too.”
Director of Upper School
Core Subjects and Electives
Westmark’s college-preparatory curriculum includes Upper School classes in English, Math, Science, History and Social Sciences, and World Languages and Cultures, as well as Reading if applicable. Courses are carefully planned to offer academic rigor while ensuring the differentiated instruction and appropriate accommodations that our students need.
Advisory and Co-Curricular Subjects
Upper School students attend Advisory three days a week, in addition to other co-curriculars throughout the week.
In their junior and senior years, Westmark students complete two major independent projects.
Landmark Dual Enrollment
The Landmark College Dual Enrollment Program is open to self-motivated students in Grades 11–12 who have consistently demonstrated independence in their work habits and fulfilled specific eligibility requirements. The classes are self-guided and accommodate the learning profiles of Westmark students. While Landmark is a higher-education institution for LD students, the purpose of the program is to prepare students for the rigor of a mainstream college-level course.
Grades and Assessments
Upper School assignments are graded on a 4.0 scale. Students receive a final grade in each subject every semester, with a formal progress report of grades and comments every quarter. Additionally, students who may need additional support are given interim reports at the midpoint of the first and third quarters. Only the semester grades are reported on students’ official high school transcripts.
Various formative and summative assessment tools are used in each subject to direct classroom instruction and track student progress. Students are given an annual reading-language assessment. Additionally, all Upper School students take the NWEA MAP Growth assessment in reading, language usage, math, and science. Administered biannually, these assessments are used to measure growth and achievement, set goals, and plan instruction.
English: 4 years
Math: 4 years
Science: 1 year of a life science; 1 year of a physical science
History and Social Sciences: 3.5 years
World Languages and Cultures: 2 years of the same language
Fine Arts: 1 year
Physical Education: 2 years
Homework and Conferences
Homework is an important part of the learning process. It provides students a chance for independent practice of what they have learned. As students progress through high school, independent assignments become longer and involve more reading, essay writing, and projects. In Grades 9–10, students are assigned an average of fifteen to twenty minutes of homework a night. In Grades 11–12, students are assigned an average of twenty to twenty-five minutes of homework a night. Teachers differentiate homework to meet the needs of their students.
Upper School students may begin their homework with the support of a teacher during Flex period at the end of each day. During Flex periods, students also have the opportunity to schedule office hours with individual teachers for additional assistance.
Student- Led Conferences
Communication is an important part of our partnership with families. Conferences take place at Westmark three times a year.
At the start of the school year, conferences are held so that Upper School parents and guardians can meet their student’s Advisor, learn more about the academic program for the year, and set goals together. Upper School students join these initial conferences.
Upper School students lead the conferences held in December and May. Advisors are present, and teachers may attend subject to availability. Students take the lead in these discussions so that they take ownership of their learning and assume responsibility for goal-setting and self-assessment. Since adopting this model for our conferences, Westmark families have enjoyed richer, more transparent conversations about their students’ education.
During these December and May conferences, students review their goals following their most recent report cards; go over recent academic work, highlighting strengths and challenges; and track their own progress towards becoming a self-directed learner and self-advocate, as well as an engaged member of the Westmark community.
Conferences are also a chance for parents to inform their student’s Advisor of any changes in medication and updates to the student’s neuropsychological evaluation, among other pertinent matters.