OGDEN -- The three junior high schools in the Ogden School District are all on the same page -- not just with each other, but with the high schools they feed into.
District officials have been meeting with the principals of all three junior high schools and their corresponding high schools since the fall to revamp the honors program and make sure the junior highs are properly preparing students for the high school programs.
Superintendent Brad Smith said the junior highs have all had honors programs of some sort for several years, but they haven't been aligned with anything.
"They have each been doing their own thing. It has been haphazard," Smith said.
The conversation has become a lot more serious as Ogden School District has been preparing to start the International Baccalaureate program next fall for juniors and seniors at Ogden High and a more advanced honors program at Ben Lomond High School.
Smith said the conversation rapidly turned to preparing the junior high students and to even start preparing the elementary schools.
The junior high principals were brought on board along with a couple of elementary school principals.
Honors teachers in each of the junior high schools were also brought on board to examine curriculum and find the kind of curriculum that will work best for the students.
"We made a firm commitment to the honors program," Smith said.
Smith pointed out that although the IB program was the catalyst for revamping the program, it was not the main reason. It is something that has needed to be done for quite some time.
One of the goals has been to create an honors program for Mount Ogden, Mound Fort and Highland junior high schools that mirror each other, so if students move between schools, they can transfer easily between the programs.
Jessica Bennington, assistant principal at Mount Ogden Junior High said that is also the goal in every subject, not just honors.
Currently there are between 30 and 70 honors students in each grade at each of the schools, and Smith thinks that will stay the same for years to come. But no matter the number, he said, the program needs to exist and be strong.
Teachers and administrators chose the Springboard curriculum and will teach using the textbooks from that curriculum next fall. The curriculum comes from educators who work with Advanced Placement and SAT testing.
Smith said the district looked at several curriculums and teaching theories, but settled on a set curriculum the teachers could teach from and adapt into their honors programs that already exist.
"There will be some adaptation and some adoption," Smith said.
Students entering seventh grade will test to get into the program, but the test will not evaluate IQ so much as aptitude. The test will be administered in English and Spanish.
Once students are in the program, they won't have to retest each year, and older students wanting to enter the program, who haven't been in it previously, will have the opportunity to test in.
Smith said it is not a locked program.
He has been impressed with the teachers' participation and support of the program and the discussions that have been held.
"The curriculum is very robust and intense, and there appears to be buy-in (from the teachers)," Smith said.
He added that a majority of the teachers are already committed to some sort of honors program, so they want to see it succeed.