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Academics FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about curriculum, instruction, and academics at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

Still have a question? Please visit our Instructional Services Directory to find members of ISD by role.
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What is the district’s curriculum?

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools curricula are designed to align to the North Carolina Essential Standards and the Common Core State Standards. The district’s curriculum contains what students should know and be able to do (skills, concepts, and content) and how it is measured (assessments).

The North Carolina State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards on June 4, 2010. The standards provide a clear and consistent framework designed to prepare students for college and the workforce. Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools may add additional emphasis at certain grade levels or go beyond what is required by the North Carolina Essential Standards and the Common Core State Standards.

What is the district’s math sequence and how are middle school students placed in math?

The secondary mathematics curriculum at CHCCS is aligned with college- and career-readiness expectations and includes rigorous content and application of knowledge through critical thinking for all students. Learn more about our Core Secondary Math Pathways.

Can my child test out of a class?
Middle and High School students who wish to pursue Credit By Demonstrated Mastery (CDM) will need to show mastery in two assessments. The State Board of Education defines “mastery” as a student’s command of course material at a level that demonstrates a deep understanding of the content standards and the ability to apply his or her knowledge of the material.  
CDM is the process by which the school district shall, based upon a body­ of evidence, award a student credit in a particular course without requiring the student to complete classroom instruction for a certain amount of seat time. Questions related to this form should be directed to your guidance counselor. 

How do I enroll my child in the Gifted (AIG) Program?

Students are nominated for AIG by school screening, parents, community members, or self-nomination (in the case of older students) To learn more about the nomination process, see our Gifted Ed. FAQ.  For general information about the program, please visit Gifted Education.

My child is struggling in school. What supports do you provide?

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools is committed to instructional excellence and continuous improvement to ensure every child learns.  With high standards and expectations, it is inevitable that some students may struggle.  CHCCS makes every effort to be cognizant of students who may need additional support to reach grade level standards, both academically and behaviorally; students are screened several times throughout the year as a way to identify students needing more support.  All students are regularly monitored to ensure grade level performance and communication between home and school is expected. Administrators, teachers, and staff are prepared to intervene and provide additional support as soon as they suspect potential problems.

There may be times when you believe your child needs help, but hasn’t been identified through our screening system. That’s are some helpful steps for what you can do to help your child.

Step 1. Talk with your child’s teacher
Set up a time to talk to your child’s teacher(s). Items to discuss are:
a. What is the problem? As a parent, where do you see your child struggling?  What are the teacher’s concerns?
b. What support is available in the classroom to help your child in the identified area of concern?\
c. What can you do at home to support your child?
d. How will you know if the support is helping? Ask the teacher how he/she will monitor your child’s progress.
e. Create a plan for communication.  How will the teacher keep you informed about your child’s progress?
f. Make a plan to follow up with the teacher within a few months.  If your child continues to struggle, discuss Step 2 with your child’s teacher.

Step 2. Targeted support identified through the problem-solving model
If your child continues to struggle even after differentiated classroom support, more targeted supports are available.
a. Your child’s teacher will participate in problem-solving with his/her colleagues. As a team, they will work to identify more targeted support for your child and develop a plan of action.
b. Your child’s progress is monitored regularly.
c. The problem-solving team will review your child’s progress and make changes as needed.
d. Create a plan for communication.  How will the teacher keep you informed about your child’s progress?
e. Make a plan to follow up with the teacher within a few months.  If your child continues to struggle, discuss Step 3 with your child’s teacher.

Step 3. Individualized problem-solving
If your child continues to struggle after targeted support and teacher collaboration, more intensive and individualized supports are available.
a. You will be invited to participate in problem-solving with your child’s teacher along with specialists, such as literacy coach, school psychologist, counselor, and administrators, at your child’s school.
b. The problem-solving team will work collaboratively to develop an individualized plan with intensive supports.
c. Your child’s progress will be monitored weekly and supports adjusted as need.

*Please note the problem-solving model described above follows the Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities, specifically NC 1503-2.5 where two interventions to address skill deficiencies and documentation of the results of the interventions, including progress monitoring documentation is required before a student can be considered eligibility for services in most categories, including Other Health Impaired, Specific Learning Disabled, and Severely Emotionally Disabled.

What services do you provide for children with special needs?

Our Exceptional Children's programs are designed to support students with disabilities as they acquire academic, social, and functional skills. We support the policy of moderate inclusion, so that even students with the most severe disabilities spend time with typically developing peers. We serve students from 3 through 21 years of age.

To learn how students receive EC services, please see our Referral, Evaluation, and Placement of Exceptional Children page. For more information about the program, see our Exceptional Children site.

Where do I find a list of courses for my high school or middle school student?

Our Courses site contains listings for high school and middle school courses. This site also contains information about planning for high school and middle school in its information sections.

What are Honors courses?

Honors courses provide high school students with the opportunity to take challenging courses which can prepare them for Advanced Placement (AP) courses, college, and career readiness. Students who complete honors level courses will receive 1 or .5 quality point, depending on the year the student entered as freshman.

Prerequisites for Honors classes vary by the course. See our course listings for more information.

Benefits of Honors Courses
    • Designed to prepare students for future advanced courses
    • Increased academic rigor
    • May improve opportunities for college admission 
    • Preparation for College and Career
    • Weighted Credit
Honors GPA Comparison Chart for Students Who Are Enrolled in the Ninth Grade in 2015-2016 and Beyond

Honors GPA Comparison Chart

What is an Advanced Placement (AP) course?

The Advanced Placement (AP) Courses Program offers hardworking and capable students an opportunity to study college-level material in high school and gives them an opportunity to show that they have mastered the material by taking AP Exams. Students can receive college credit, placement into college courses, or both if they qualify. 

Prerequisites for Advanced Placement classes vary by the course. See our course listings for more information.

Benefits of Enrolling in AP Classes 
    • AP courses provide a challenging college-level curriculum and the opportunity to place out of an introductory college course, thus saving tuition money and/or allowing early graduation from college.
    • Depending on the score a student makes and the policies of the college/university the student selects, the student may receive three or more semester hours of college credit for each test taken.
    • AP students can take a wide variety of courses in multiple disciplines or concentrate on AP courses within a discipline (for instance, a strong science student could choose to concentrate on AP science courses and take regular or Honors courses in the other disciplines.) 
    • AP courses are weighted one or two additional points, depending on the year the student entered as a freshman.
Students who do well in AP classes increase their chances of college success, and the College Board recognizes the following AP Scholar Designations and notifies both the high school and college the student attends of these distinctions: 

AP Scholar Granted to students who receive scores of 3 or higher on three or more AP exams.

AP Scholar with Honor An average of 3.25 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on four + exams. 

AP Scholar with Distinction Students who receive an average of 3.5 on all AP exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams.
AP State Scholar Granted to one male and one female student in each U.S. state and the District of Columbia with scores of 3 or higher on the greatest number of AP Exams and then the highest average score (at least 3.5) on all AP Exams taken. 

National AP Scholar Students in the U.S. who receive an average score of at least 4 on all AP exams taken, and grades of 4 or higher on eight or more of the exams.

How can I help to prepare my child for college?

The College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) provides students and families with planning tools. Discover how to enter high school ready for the next level. CFNC provides tools to help your child plan, apply, and pay for college. This free resource supports college and career readiness and provides students with tips for planning for the future.

You Can Go! is a website that supports students and families. Do you have questions about college options, schools across the United States, or ways to pay for college? Hear stories from high school graduates. Take the next step and find out what you should be doing to prepare in middle school, ninth grade, tenth grade, eleventh grade, and twelfth grade! 

What is College and Career Readiness?

In today’s knowledge-based, global economy, postsecondary education is increasingly becoming a necessity. All North Carolina students should graduate from high school ready for demands of a chosen career or college pathway to a career. A consistent and shared understanding of what it means to be career and college ready allows all stakeholders to work together towards statewide goals for student success. 

With this in mind, the NC Ready for Success Steering Committee, comprised of leaders from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the North Carolina Community College System, the University of North Carolina System, and the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, began meeting in the summer of 2012 with the goal of strengthening alignment among sectors to facilitate student preparation for postsecondary success. In the fall of 2012, these cross-sector leaders began developing a career and college readiness definition. In the months that followed, a number of K-12 and higher education stakeholders contributed to the development of the definition. The definition was completed in December 2014 and has been endorsed by:  

The State Board of Education (January 8, 2015), the University of North Carolina Board of Governors (February 27, 2015), and the State Board of Community Colleges (April 17, 2015).

College and Career Readiness Defined
In North Carolina, students are considered career and college ready when they have the knowledge and academic preparation needed to enroll and succeed, without the need for remediation, in introductory college credit-bearing courses in English language arts and mathematics within an associate or baccalaureate degree program. These same attributes and levels of achievement are needed for entry into and success in postsecondary workforce education, the military, or directly into a job that offers gainful employment and career advancement.

Can my child receive college credit while in High School?

There are many ways to earn college credit while in High School. Talk to your School Guidance Counselor to learn more. College credit is also available through Durham Technical Community College. Visit the Middle College High School website to learn more.

What is required for my child to graduate from high school?

Graduation requirements include the Future-Ready Core Course of Study Credit Requirements and the Future-Ready Occupational Course of Study Credit Requirements for students with disabilities who have an IEP. Visit our Graduation Requirements for High School page to learn more.

What are the Service Learning requirements for high school students?

Students who enter the CHCCS District as Freshmen, Sophomores or Juniors are required to complete 25 Service Learning hours. Students who enter the CHCCS District as Seniors (first time entry) are required to complete 15 hours. Visit our Service Learning site for more information about requirements, hours, and opportunities to engage with the community through service. 

How do I check my child’s grades and progress in PowerSchool?

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Home Base Parent Portal provides access to real-time information including attendance, grades, and detailed assignment descriptions and teacher comments. A parent or guardian's access to Home Base is through the password protected Parent Portal.

Visit the CHCCS PowerSchool Portal information site to learn how to monitor your child’s grades and support your child’s progress. At this time, PowerSchool is only available for students enrolled in middle and high school.

How do I sign my child up for Pre-School?

Complete details for how to register your child for Pre-K / Head Start are located on our Pre-K Applications page

Where can I find information about Summer School?

The district publishes information about Summer School in the Spring of each year. This information is available on our Summer School page.

Where can I find information about the new, standards-based Elementary Report Card?

To learn more about the new Elementary Report Card, please visit this page.