6141.51/6141.52 - Enrollment in an Advanced Course or Program and Challenging Curriculum

Policy 6141.51/6141.52


Enrollment in an Advanced Course or Program and Challenging Curriculum

The Newtown Board of Education (the “Board”) believes in the basic principle that academic rigor and the opportunity to accelerate learning are powerful motivators for students to meet intellectual challenges and excel in an academic environment. Therefore, the Board endorses the goal to foster a culture of deliberate excellence to in which all students who have the capability, potential, or motivation to may access advanced academic curriculum and instruction. As a further part of that goal, the Board encourages students to pursue rigorous, challenging academic coursework such as, but not limited to, honors classes, dual enrollment, dual credit, advanced placement classes, International Baccalaureate courses, and the Cambridge International Program, as may be provided by the Newtown Public Schools (the “District”).

To better realize such a goal, and in accordance with Connecticut law, this policy shall explain the manner in which the District determines eligibility for enrollment in advanced courses or programs and creates academic plans for students in the District.

1.  Definitions

For purposes of this policy:

"Advanced course or program" means an honors class, advanced placement class, International Baccalaureate program, Cambridge International program, dual enrollment, dual credit, early college or any other advanced or accelerated course or program offered by the Board.

“Advanced placement” program is a program authorized by the College Board that offers college-level courses and exams that students take in high school.

“Cambridge International program” is an internationally recognized academic program for students aged five (5) to nineteen (19). High school level courses, available only through approved Cambridge International Schools, provide students the opportunity to earn postsecondary credit that is accepted by colleges in the United States and abroad.

“Dual credit/Dual enrollment” courses are college courses offered by high schools in partnership with a college or university. Students taking these courses in high school are simultaneously enrolled with the partner higher education institution. Students who successfully complete a dual credit/dual enrollment course earn credit toward high school graduation as well as college course credit that appears on a student transcript issued by a college or university.

“International Baccalaureate (“IB”) program” is a program that offers international education through four programs for students aged three (3) to nineteen (19). The four programs are: Primary Years, Middle Years, Diploma Program, and Career-related Program. Schools must be authorized to teach IB programs. Every authorized school is known as an IB World School.

“Prior academic performance" means the course or courses that a student has taken, the grades received for such course or courses and a student's grade point average.

2.  Eligibility Criteria

Consistent with state law, the District will identify students in grades eight and nine who may be eligible to take or enroll in an advanced course or program.  Students will be eligible to enroll in advanced courses or programs throughout their high school career, even if they are not identified as eligible in grades eight or nine.

Eligibility for enrollment in an advanced course or program shall not be based exclusively on a student’s prior academic performance. There are multiple methods by which a student may satisfy the eligibility criteria for enrollment in an advanced course or program, including:
  • Recommendations from teachers, administrators, school counselors or other school personnel.
  • A student’s prior academic performance, as determined by evidence-based indicators of how a student will perform in an advanced course or program.
  • GPA improvement over time
  • Student interests and persistence
  • The District administration may, in its discretion, identify and publicize additional criteria, including but not limited to student or parent request.  Any such criteria shall be established prior to the commencement of an academic term. 

3.  Creation of an Academic Plan/Challenging Curriculum

The District will create an academic plan for each student who is identified in grade eight or nine as eligible for enrollment in an advanced course or program.  Such plan will be designed to enroll the student in one or more advanced courses or programs and allow the student to earn college credit or result in career readiness. Such academic plan will also be aligned with:

  • The courses or programs offered by the Board,
  • The student’s student success plan, created pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-221a(j),
  • High school graduation requirements, and
  • Any other policies or standards adopted by the Board relating to the eligibility for student enrollment in advanced courses or programs.

A student, or the student’s parent or guardian, may decline to implement the provisions of an academic plan created for such student.
The academic plan may be part of the student’s success plan, required for each student by Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-221a, if the student success plan’s academic component intentionally focuses on advanced course and program participation.

4.  Guiding Principles and Implementation
The Board is aware that marginalized groups may be chronically underrepresented in advanced level high school courses and programs of similar rigor. Low awareness of advanced courses and programs, insufficient preparation or failure to identify students with potential, and fear of social isolation may prevent marginalized groups from enrolling in such courses or programs.

The Board recognizes that course access and academic planning should be guided by considerations beyond traditional course eligibility criteria.  An emphasis on equity must include a focus on increasing student’s access to rigorous learning opportunities to assist all students to be prepared for success after high school. The proceeding eligibility criteria will contribute to fostering greater equity in student participation in advanced courses or programs.

The Superintendent or designee shall be responsible for implementing this policy and developing procedures in furtherance of this policy and in accordance with guidance provided by the Connecticut Department of Education.

Legal Reference:
Connecticut General Statutes § 10-221a
Connecticut General Statutes § 10-221w
Connecticut General Statutes § 10-221x
Connecticut State Department of Education, District Guidance for Developing an Advanced Course Participation Policy (March 2022 Draft)

Policy Adopted: June 17, 2022                                             
Newtown Public Schools,  
Newtown, CT

Inspiring Each Student to Excel

3 Primrose St., Newtown, CT 06470
Phone: 203-426-7600