The St. Mary’s County Public Schools system offers a middle school Honors program of study to all highly able students in grades 6-8.
Highly able and high achieving reading/language arts students are expected to work at an accelerated pace, to read and interpret challenging and complex literature independently, and to formulate their own hypotheses about the author’s intent and style. Students in the following programs explore literary works, develop their thinking about literature, and create compositions of their own, while refining appropriate language skills.
Junior Great Books—The Junior Great Books® program is a research-based K-12 reading program that provides a superb framework for teaching reading comprehension, critical thinking, and writing, all in the context of students sharing their ideas about great literature. These texts are used as a supplement to the student reading anthologies, and provide an anchor for the Shared Inquiry approach to literature discussion.
William and Mary Curriculum—The William and Mary Language Arts Program for High Ability Learners was developed by the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary specifically to meet the needs of high ability students. The program includes a series of curriculum units designed to challenge students to read advanced texts and perform a variety of tasks. The literature and tasks increase in complexity as students move from one grade to the next. Through consistent use of the curriculum’s specific teaching models, students build competence in reading, writing, and thinking. Curriculum development for these materials has involved teams of content specialists and educators in writing and field-testing units. These materials have been recognized for their quality by the United States Department of Education and the National Association for Gifted Children.
SMCPS has placed the following William and Mary Units at the middle school level:
Grade 6 – Patterns of Change
Grade 7 – Persuasion
Grade 8 – The 1940’s: A Decade of Change
While highly able students are still responsible for mastery of the grade level State Curriculum and Common Coare State Standards in all subject areas, the materials and course sequences implemented to deliver instruction and provide appropriate levels of rigor will vary.
Descartes’ Cove—Developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY), this program utilizes the latest software to enrich the mathematics curriculum for highly able learners. The six modules of instruction provide students with the opportunity to explore mathematical concepts. Students are challenged to extend their knowledge to become more confident in their abilities, develop problem solving skills, learn to reason mathematically, and apply an understanding of mathematics to real-world problems. This program is available at all four middle schools.
The St. Mary’s County Public School system currently offers 22 Advanced Placement courses at the high school level. These courses are available to any student who has taken the prerequisite courses, and who accepts the challenge of a college course while still in high school.
In order to prepare for the rigor of these courses, the middle school program has embraced a “Pre-AP” mentality, adopting strategies used in Advanced Placement courses and scaffolding these expectations to ensure student success. Students in a Pre-AP Pathway will identify entry level AP courses, and will develop their program of study in preparation for these courses.