The high school curriculum provides students with a comprehensive and rigorous US 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 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 school, and local and global communities
  • demonstrate authentic and effective leadership in school, and 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. The well-being class is required of all Grade 9 students. In addition, they are required to take a minimum of 7 credits: 5 credits in core academics (English 9, World Civilizations I, math, Science 9 and world language), 1 credit in well-being, and 1 additional credit. Most students take 7-8 credits in Grade 9; however, the number of credits for students depends on their academic and extracurricular commitments.

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. The courses students take in math and world languages are guided by their performance in earlier courses. All students enroll in a one-semester health course and a one-semester physical education course.

Grade 10 students are required to take a minimum of 6 credits: 5 credits in core academics (English 10, World Civilizations II, math, Science 10, and world language), ½ credit in Health, and an additional ½ credit in Physical Education. Most students take 7-8 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 6 credits: 5 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 courses 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 6 credits.

Graduation requirements

Up to and including Class of 2022
Requirements Credits
Core academics (see below) 19
Art (visual and/or performing) 2
Health/Physical education 0.5/1
Technology 0.5
Additional course(s) 1
Class of 2023 and beyond
Requirements Credits
Core academics (see below) 19
Art (visual and/or performing) 2
Well-being 2
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 and 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 athletics 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 2023, students will complete 2 credits in Well-being.

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, assignments appropriate for Grade 9 evolve into quite different assignments, at a varied 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.

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 Satisfactory
D Passing but unsatisfactory
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
P/F Pass/Fail
W Withdrawn (no credit awarded)
EX Exempt (no credit awarded)

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 (GPA):

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. Third quarter conferences include students.

Special reports are formal notifications from teachers to parents that their students’ academic progress has either improved or declined. 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 any time during the marking period). Special reports are sent for all students with a grade average of C- or below. In certain situations—including academic probation—class deans may request that special reports be written in order to provide specific grade and classroom information to parents. Special reports do not form part of a student’s permanent record.

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 and reported on the ASL transcript. 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. GPAs from other schools are not included in the ASL GPA calculation.

Approaches to Learning

Recognizing that some key development goals cannot be met simply through mastery of material, all courses assess students using common developmental goals, called Approaches to Learning. Progress towards these standards is reported on the twice-yearly reports within each subject. The Approaches to Learning are:

  • Works well with others
  • Understands and respects diverse approaches
  • Communicates through dialogue and participation
  • Attends to the perspectives of others
  • Helps others
  • Treats others the way we expect to be treated
  • Appreciates own culture and the cultures of others
  • Values diversity of thought and experience
  • Demonstrates honesty
  • Makes the right choices even when no one is watching
  • Acts with compassion
  • Takes ownership of words, actions and learning
  • Fulfills obligations to self and to others
  • Works hard
  • Values mistakes as learning opportunities
  • Reflects on own learning
  • Sets and pursues goals for improvement
  • Demonstrates intellectual curiosity about the world
  • Cultivates interests and strengths
  • Finds passion and purpose in learning
  • Stretches and grows by taking risks
  • Demonstrates resourcefulness in the face of challenges and change


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, with the exception of 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, student must have discussed with their teacher, class dean and director of academic advising their 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. While there may be final unit tests, there are no final exams in semester courses.


Students may request a schedule change during the add/drop period at the beginning of each semester. While ASL tries to accommodate student wishes, any switch requires that there be space available, and approval by the department, advisor, and dean or college counselor. Add/drop is processed by the AACC office with the following in mind: meeting graduation requirements, meeting placement needs, and whether or not this affects other student schedules, as well as the student’s wishes. Course changes initiated by students after the add/drop period will result in both the dropped and added courses appearing on the transcript. 

Teachers may recommend a schedule change through the first semester of a yearlong class or the first quarter of a semester class. In these cases, only the added class will appear on the transcript. 

Repeating courses

Repeating a course is allowed and may be required if a student fails the class. Students are required to have department head, 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.

Incompletes, waivers, medical leaves

A student should make every attempt to complete all graduation requirements; however, incompletes, exemptions, class waivers and medical leaves may be granted in exceptional circumstances.

An incomplete at the end of a quarter/semester is granted by the teacher in consultation with the student’s dean, on the rare occasion where the student has been unable to meet the quarter/semester grade deadline, but can make up the work within a stated extension of no more than two weeks. Incompletes at the end of the year must be made up within one week of the final grade deadline. If the work is not made up by the deadline, then the grade earned without the work is recorded. Exceptions to this policy are extremely rare and are made on a case-by-case basis in the AACC office.

An exemption is granted by the AACC office if a documented medical condition prevents a student from completing a course within the course’s timeframe. In lieu of a grade on the student’s transcript, the designation “EX” will be listed. There is no credit for an exempt course. When the student has recovered, the course must be made up if it is required for graduation.

An exemption will be granted only in situations where a qualified doctor gives written confirmation that the student is unable to participate in the class, out-of-class activities and assignments associated with the class; and thus cannot fulfill the requirements of the course. 

A class waiver is granted in rare cases by the AACC office, where a student is unable to take a course required for graduation or as a prerequisite for some reason. Students must apply for a class waiver by meeting with their dean and filling out the class waiver form and providing any requested documentation by the designated deadline: currently 15 May of the following year. The student may need to study outside of school in order for the waiver to be granted. The waived class does not appear on the transcript.

Language waiver. In rare cases, a student may have the “three years of the same world language” graduation requirement waived for one level by the AACC office, in conjunction with the world languages department, in the following circumstances:

  1. A student has a documented language-based learning difference that makes success in language learning very challenging.
  2. A student entering in Grade 11 or 12 has taken a language not offered by ASL in his/her prior school and will be unable to reach level 3 of that language. These students are encouraged to begin a new world language to complete the three-year requirement. View further details.

Medical leave. When a student is unable to attend school and/or complete assignments in more than one class because of a chronic condition with unpredictable or cyclical acute episodes, and modifications to the attendance policy are no longer appropriate as an accommodation, a medical leave will be considered. The terms of a medical leave are determined on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the Student Support Team, and with the approval of the HS principal. Each medical leave is designed to address the needs of an individual student, and the goal of a medical leave is to enable students to return to ASL. Once a student has been placed on medical leave, the student and family will receive a letter outlining the school’s expectations and requirements with respect to the leave period. Letters are individualized and may include specific criteria, conditions and expectations relevant to the student’s needs and the reasons that informed the medical leave. 

In general, there are four requirements during the medical leave: 

  • The student will receive ongoing treatment by a medical professional appropriate to the student’s condition; 
  • The family will engage in ongoing and regular communication and cooperation with the School about the student’s treatment and the school’s expectations during the medical leave; 
  • The student and family will comply with other conditions that the School articulates in the medical leave letter; 
  • A re-entry meeting is always a requirement before returning to school.

Academic warning and 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 and may require a family meeting with the high school principal.

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 by the appropriate department head, 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 curricular offerings, demonstrated a commitment to independent work, and expressed ongoing interest in a topic, as well as acquiring 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.

Advanced Placement

ASL's College Board’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 as the equivalent of A-levels in the admissions process; they are also recognized by many other non-US university systems. 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 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 English courses but many students elect to take the AP English Language and Composition or AP English Literature and Composition exam. The English department offers a helpful lunchtime AP exam preparatory program in the second semester.

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 the AP exam, they are required to sit for an in-house final exam in that course, and the AP designation is removed from their transcript.