The high school curriculum provides students with a comprehensive and rigorous secondary education, equipping them for success in and beyond ASL. The required program of study should be considered the minimum; almost all students fulfill more than basic graduation requirements. Most students choose to take four years each of English, math, science, social studies and world language, and they pursue advanced work in academic and elective areas where they have ability and interest. High school students also participate in the 1:1 laptop program.

The strongest college-preparatory program emphasizes steady progression in core academic areas. ASL offers an unusually wide array of options for students to extend their knowledge in several subject areas. ASL's core curriculum is enhanced by broad offerings in technology, and in the visual and performing arts. Students learn to make thoughtful choices to achieve the best possible balance between breadth and depth. 

Underpinning the subject-based aims of the high school program are several essential skills. In addition to achieving specific curricular goals, every student should graduate with the ability to:

  • present ideas clearly and effectively, orally and in writing
  • understand and apply quantitative reasoning
  • think analytically and solve problems.

Furthermore, four years of high school education at ASL offers every student ongoing opportunities to develop in the four domains of the school's mission: learning, character, community and service.

In order to develop into active, thoughtful and compassionate participants in a global society, every student should:

  • understand that good character is essential for being a committed citizen in a global society
  • aspire to and model the qualities of kindness, honesty, optimism, courage, respect, compassion, humility
  • be thoughtfully, responsibly and actively engaged in their school, local and global communities
  • demonstrate authentic and effective leadership in school, local and global communities
  • demonstrate a curiosity about and respect for other cultures and multiple perspectives.

Grade 9

Grade 9 is both a transitional year from middle school and a foundation for the increasing depth and breadth of the high school curriculum. All Grade 9 students take the same English, social studies and science courses. Students are placed in math and world language according to individual levels of interest and preparation. Students are also encouraged to take courses in the performing arts, visual arts, technology or journalism. Well-Being is required of all Grade 9 students. In addition, they are required to take a minimum of seven credits: five credits in core academics (English 9, World Civilizations I, math, science and world languages), one credit in Well-Being, and one additional credit.

Grade 10

Grade 10 students are introduced to the next level of sophistication in writing, reasoning, quantitative and research skills that are appropriate for the high school curriculum. They assume greater responsibility for managing their own academic progress. In Grade 10, students develop important skills and learn content required for upper-level courses in Grades 11 and 12. Building upon Grade 9, all students take English 10, World Civilizations II and Science 10, which are core requirements in English and social studies. The courses students take in math and world languages are guided by their performance in earlier courses. All students enroll in a required one-semester health course. 

Grade 10 students are required to take a minimum of six credits: five credits in core academics (English 10, World Civilizations II, Science 10, math and world languages), ½ credit in Health, and an additional ½ credit in another course. Most students take 7 credits in Grade 10; however, the number of credits for students depends on their academic and extracurricular commitments.

Grade 11

In Grade 11, students begin to refine their interests in specific academic disciplines, while they continue to deepen their knowledge and skills in all core academic subjects. Planning math, science and social studies sequences requires careful consideration, because the options are broad and often carry prerequisites. The aims of the English program remain constant, but students elect one-semester courses from a selection of topics and genres. Grade 11 students usually take either US History or AP US History, but they can elect to take other social studies courses. Grade 11 students also continue their study of their chosen world language, and some may choose to pursue an additional language. Academic focus and performance are especially important in Grade 11, because they determine the most appropriate Grade 12 courses. 

In Grade 11, students are required to take a minimum of six credits: five in core academics and an additional credit in another course. Most students take 7 credits in Grade 11; however, the number of credits for students depends on their academic and extracurricular commitments.

Grade 12

Grade 12 students enjoy the widest range of curricular options; their course choices tend to be based on trajectories established earlier in high school. The greatest range of opportunities in Advanced Placement courses occurs in Grade 12; however, students typically have some flexibility to include a course or two that can be taken for enjoyment and interest. Grade 12 is a transitional year between secondary and post-secondary education, emphasizing improved study skills and increasing independence and responsibility.

In Grade 12, students are required to take a minimum of six credits: four academic and two additional credits in other courses.

Graduation requirements

Requirements Credits
Core academics (see below) 19
Art (visual and/or performing) 2
Health (Grade 10) 0.5
Physical education 1
Technology 0.5
Additional course(s) 1

Yearlong courses receive 1 credit; semester courses receive ½ credit. Requirements for graduation include the minimum core academics, selected from the following departments: English, social studies, mathematics, science, and world languages and cultures. In addition, AP art and music courses may be counted as core academics in the determination of minimum enrollment requirements.

The minimum core academic requirements include:

Core Academics Credits
English (one English class
required every semester)
Social studies 3
Mathematics 2
Science 2
World languages & cultures (must
include single language progression
in Arabic, Chinese, French or Spanish)

Students may select additional credits from any department, keeping in mind graduation requirements and their post-high school plans and goals. Participation in the school's athletic program does not count towards ASL's graduation requirement nor can it serve as an exemption for any Physical Education requirement. An independent study course, if approved, is taken in addition to the student's course requirements and may not substitute for course requirements in the regular curriculum. Beginning with the class of 2015, students can complete their one credit PE requirement with a one-semester course taken in Grade 10, 11 or 12. Also, beginning with the Class of 2015, some cross-listed art and technology courses can be used to satisfy requirements in both areas at the same time.

To graduate, a Grade 12 student must earn a minimum yearlong GPA of 1.67 (C-) in all courses, as well as no failing grade in any required course or failing year-end grade in any full-year course.

Academic evaluation


Homework is an important component of all classes in all subjects, yet its nature can vary among subjects and courses. Some assignments, for example, might take 30-45 minutes to complete and be due when that class meets next, while other assignments might be of a larger, more long-term nature that allows students increased discretion about how best to approach their learning. Likewise, the assignments appropriate for Grade 9 evolve to quite different assignments and pace for Grades 11 or 12, especially in AP courses where external exams are part of the curriculum. ASL teachers are expected to post homework assignments no later than 5 pm on the day the class meets. If students feel overwhelmed by the amount of homework represented by a program of study, they are encouraged to talk to their teachers, advisor or class dean /college counselor.

Grade reports and special reports

Grade reports are issued four times a year, at the end of each quarter, based on the following standards:

A Outstanding
B Commendable
C Adequate
D Passing but inadequate
F Failing/No credit

With the approval of the Director of Academic Advising, the following marks can also be used in grade reports:

INC Incomplete
IP In progress
P Pass
WP/WF Withdrawn passing/failing
MEDEX Medical excuse

The following scale applies to all letter grades:

98-100 A+                73-76  C                     
93-97 A 70-72 C-
90-92 A- 67-69 D+
87-89 B+ 63-66 D
83-86 B 60-62 D-
80-82 B- 59 F
77-79 C+    

High School letter grades have numerical equivalents that are used in creating a Grade Point Average:

A+ = 4.0 A = 4.0 A- = 3.67
B+ = 3.33 B = 3.0 B- = 2.67
C+ = 2.33 C = 2.0 C- = 1.67
D+ = 1.33 D = 1.0 D- = 0.67
F = 0.0    

Parent-teacher conferences are held during the first and third quarters.

Special reports are notifications from teachers to parents of their students’ academic progress, either improvement or decline. Special reports are sent at the mid-point of each quarter or whenever there has been a shift in academic performance (e.g., a letter-grade drop during any time of the marking period). Special reports are most often sent at the interim point of the quarter for all students with a grade average of C or below. In certain situations—including academic probation—class deans and college counselors may request that special reports be written in order to provide specific grade and classroom information to parents. 

Special reports are shared with teachers, parents, class deans, college counselors and the SLD teacher, if applicable.

Grade Point Average (GPA) calculation

The GPA is calculated by means of a straight average. Every course is included in a student's GPA with the exception of pass/fail courses and independent study. The GPA is calculated to two decimal points.


Students in Grades 9-11 may request to take any one course at a time on a pass/fail basis from any of the following areas of study: performing arts, physical education or visual arts. Grade 12 students may request to take any one course at a time pass/fail. The option of pass/fail cannot be applied to AP courses, which must be taken for a grade. The deadline for a student to request pass/fail or change from pass/fail to a grade is one month after the beginning of the semester. By that time a student must have discussed with the teacher, class dean and Director of Academic Advising his/her intention and received permission. Any exception to this rule must be approved by the Director of Academic Advising. 

Senior exam exemption

A Grade 12 student whose cumulative average in a course is B+ (87%) or above, as measured the day before the beginning of final exams, may, with the teacher's permission, be exempt from the final exam in that course, provided that the student has no unexcused absences in that class.

Student-initiated drops and adds

Students may request a schedule change up to four class meetings after the beginning of the first semester and up to two class meetings after the beginning of the second semester. 

Repeating courses

In some circumstances, repeating a course is allowed. Students are required to have teacher, class dean and Director of Academic Advising approval for repeating a course. If a student repeats a course, the course and grades are recorded both times on the official transcript.


Occasionally there are circumstances that prevent a student from completing all requirements for a course on time. In such cases, in consultation with the Director of Academic Advising, a teacher may give the student an incomplete (INC). Work must be completed within two weeks of the closing date of the grading period, unless extenuating circumstances justify an extension granted by the assistant principal.

Academic probation

If a student receives two or more grades of C- or below or one failing grade F during the first or third quarter, the student will receive an Academic Warning. Furthermore, at any time during the school year when a student is failing a course or a student's academic work represents serious under-achievement, the student may immediately receive an Academic Warning. The Student Support Team will evaluate the student immediately and any or all of the following may be put in place:

  • Weekly progress report
  • Scheduled study periods
  • Restriction of participation in social and athletics activities
  • Closed campus
  • Restructured schedule

If a student receives two or more grades of C- or below or one failing grade F at the end of the semester, the student is automatically placed on Academic Probation and an official letter is placed in the student’s internal permanent record. Once placed on academic probation, the student remains so for the next semester. If, at the end of the semester, the student earns a grade average of C (75) or higher in his/her academic subjects with no more than one grade of C- or below in any subject, probationary status is removed. However, a student receiving an F or an Incomplete will remain on probation.

Academic Probation may include some or all of the following:

  • Weekly progress report
  • Scheduled study periods
  • Restriction of participation in social, extracurricular and athletics activities
  • Closed campus
  • Restructured schedule
  • Withheld re-enrollment agreement

A student's place at the School depends on meeting academic standards. Probationary status for two consecutive semesters indicates that the student is not meeting the standard.

Summer school credit policy

Summer study does not carry ASL credit, appear on an ASL transcript, or substitute for specific course or distribution requirements in ASL's curriculum. With advance planning and approval, students may be able to place into advanced levels in some subjects by demonstrating their knowledge upon successful completion of a rigorous summer academic program.

Summer reading

The High School Summer Reading program requires all students entering Grades 9-12 to read a minimum of two books; one of these may be determined by the HS English department; the other is drawn from an ASL reading list. Follow-up work on summer reading occurs at the start of school.

Independent Study

A student who has exhausted a department's curriculum offerings, demonstrated a commitment to independent work, expressed ongoing interest in a topic and has a faculty sponsor willing to oversee the project may apply for independent study. The application involves stating the nature, conditions and goals of the proposed course of study; a teacher who chooses to act as sponsor supervises the project. An independent study course is taken in addition to the student's course requirements and may not substitute for course or distribution requirements in the regular curriculum. Independent study receives academic credit and a grade, but is not part of GPA calculation. It requires the approval of the instructor, department head and assistant principal. An application form for independent study must be submitted before the beginning of the semester and finalized before the end of the add-drop period. Approval for independent study is granted on a semester basis.


A student should make every attempt to complete all graduation requirements. However, waivers may be granted in exceptional cases.

Medical Waiver

A medical waiver will be given in situations where a qualified doctor gives written confirmation that the student is unable to participate in the classroom and out-of-class activities and assignments and thus cannot fulfill the requirements of the course. In lieu of a grade on the student’s transcript, the designation MedEx will be listed. There is no credit for a MedEx course.

Examples of medical waivers include:

  1. A student taking Physical Education is injured and cannot complete a significant proportion of the PE curriculum.
  2. A student suffers from a debilitating illness that requires extended absence from school.
Language Waiver

A student may be given a language waiver in the following circumstances:

  1. A student has a documented learning difference that makes success in language learning challenging.
  2. A student entering in Grade 11 or 12 has taken a language not offered by ASL in his/her prior school. (Very often students begin a new World Language if the language they studied previously is not offered at ASL.)
  3. A student entering in Grade 11 or 12 has already completed a language sequence offered by ASL. (Very often students begin a new World Language if the language they have completed a language sequence.)
Waivers in elective classes

On occasion, waivers may be offered in elective classes to Grade 12 students. To be given a waiver for an elective class, a student must supply document evidence of his/her course load during the previous three years of High School and an explanation as to why the student cannot complete the ASL graduation requirements.

Advanced Placement

ASL's advanced placement program offers students the opportunity to take college-equivalent courses during high school, which may result in earning credit or advanced standing once a student enters college. In addition, the results of these examinations are recognized by UK universities and are seen as the equivalent of A-levels in the admission process. More than 90 percent of AP exams taken by ASL students achieve scores of three or higher. Admission to AP courses requires a recommendation from the department and approval from the class dean.

ASL currently offers Advanced Placement courses in Art History, Biology, Calculus AB and BC, Chemistry, Chinese Language, Computer Science A, Environmental Science, European History, French Language, Human Geography, Macro- and Microeconomics, Music Theory, Physics 1, 2 and C, Psychology, Spanish Language, Spanish Literature, Statistics, Studio Art and US History. The English department does not offer AP courses but many students elect to take the AP English Language and Composition or AP English Literature and Composition exam.

The AP exam is an integral part of the AP course, and all enrolled students are required to take the AP exam. If students enrolled in an AP course do not take an AP exam, they are required to sit for an in-house final exam in that course, and the AP designation will be removed from their transcript.