Middle School

The middle school years bring increased academic demands. The transition can be challenging for some 6th graders, as they get used to the increased workload, navigating multiple teachers, and getting and staying organized. Seventh graders are learning how to become more independent thinkers and learning how to problem-solve. In 8th grade, students are thinking more independently and becoming better problem solvers as they prepare for yet another transition to high school. Regardless of age or developmental need DCIS-Baker is an excellent choice to support middle school students. 

Being in a small 6th- through 12th-grade school DCIS can make some of these transitions easier. Because a number of our teachers have taught in both middle school and high school, they are in an excellent position to prepare students for what’s to come. Older students can help mentor younger ones, and our small size keeps students from falling through the cracks. The expectations are definitely higher than in elementary school, but by fostering collaboration among students, parents, teachers and administrators, we aim to set up every student for success in the classroom and beyond.

Advisement

Advisement

The Advisement program is a cornerstone of the DCIS experience, serving as a consistent home community for students. Each Advisement class consists of approximately 20-24 students in the same grade who develop close, supportive relationships with one another and with their co-advisors. To the extent possible, students remain with the same peer group and Advisement co-teachers throughout their time at DCIS.

Advisement provides time and space to build community, monitor progress toward continuation (middle school) and graduation (high school), develop and refine student portfolios, discuss current events, attend community meetings, and more. Advisement also provides an opportunity for students to develop school and community service project ideas and allows time for students to log service hours completed.

Course of Study

Course of Study

The course of study chart provides an overview of the course requirements and elective options by grade level. Most middle school students’ time is devoted to fulfilling academic requirements, but they get one period each semester to take one of the three electives offered. Each class is taken for one semester. Students select two of the three choices each year.

Reading List

Reading List

Dare to LeadBrene Brown
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black boyEmmanuel Acho
I’d like to play alone pleaseTom Segura
IllogicalEmmanuel Acho
Coaching for EquityElena Agular
SpeakTunde Oyeneyin
The Bomber MafiaMalcolm Gladwell
The Art of Coaching TeamsElena Agular
David and GoliathMalcolm Gladwell
Paper TownsJohn Green
An Absolutely Remarkable ThingHank Green
Talking to StangersMalcolm Gladwell
Grading

Grading

Grading (or assessment) is an important part of all teaching and learning. It’s designed to help students answer the following questions:

  • Do I know what success looks like for this unit/topic?
  • Am I mastering the course content?
  • How can I improve the way I study in this course?
  • What grade am I earning in this course?

Our teachers use a combination of formative and summative assessments. Here’s what those terms mean:

  • Formative assessments are assignments that allow students to practice skills and inform the student and teacher of progress on skill mastery. They’re designed to assess and provide feedback on students’ strengths and weaknesses with the goal of improving future performance. An easy way to remember this is that a formative assessment is for learning. Examples include exit slips, classroom activities and quizzes.
  • Summative assessments are assignments or tasks that assess students’ mastery of skills within a unit. They are used primarily to make decisions for grading or to determine students’ readiness for progression. An easy way to remember this is that summative assessments summarize what students have learned. Stated another way, it is an assessment of learning. Examples include written, oral or performance-based tests, papers, projects and presentations.

When looking at grades in Schoology, you may see some grades broken down into process and product. Generally, “process” relates to formative assessment and “product” to summative (although some processes can be summative and some products formative). 

Grading Scale

The grading scale is as follows:

GradeMinimum Percent
A92.5
A-89.5
B+86.5
B82.5
B-79.5
C+76.5
C72.5
C-69.5
D59.5
F0.00

The student’s grade point average (GPA) is calculated by multiplying the number of semester credit hours of each of the student’s courses (usually 5 hours per course) by the point value for the grade earned in each course. Sums are added together, then divided by the total semester hours. The resulting sum is the GPA.

Posting of Grades

Teachers are required to update Schoology–our online learning platform– with at least one new grade per student every week. Teachers must enter at least two summative assessment grades and six formative assessment grades per nine-week grading period. Teachers have up to two weeks from the date an assignment is turned in to post the grade for that assignment and up to three weeks to post grades for extended writing assignments.

Late and Missing Work

One of the skills students need to master is meeting deadlines. So we expect them to turn in all class assignments, homework, projects and assessments when they’re due and/or proactively communicate with their teacher if they need more time to complete the work. DCIS offers office hours each day of the week and this is an excellent time for a student to meet with their teacher about late or missing work. 

During the 20-21 school year all missing coursework will show on Infinite Campus as a 50 until the student submits the work according to the plan with the teacher. Furthermore if a student is not able to earn passing credits for a course then an Incomplete or ‘I’ will be placed on their report card until the student is able to turn in evidence that they have met the course requirements. 

Expectations

Expectations

As we are learning new material this year in different classes there are certain expectations that all classes need to meet. These expectations allow solid instruction to occur and provide a positive and productive learning environment. 

The expectations include:

  • Coming to class on time with appropriate materials ready to begin class
  • Listening to instructions, not having side conversations when teacher is instructing, not talking over other students 
  • Being aware of language being used within the classroom. There should be no cursing, harmful comments to peers or teacher, talking back/arguing after redirection has taken place
  • Holding to the school policy of no cell phone usage in the classroom, this includes earbuds
  • No horseplaying, rough housing, messing around in the classroom. You should enter the classroom with a learner’s mentality and hold yourself to that expectation. 
  • Only leave the classroom with a pass from the teacher. Wait for instruction to stop before asking for a pass. No passes within the first or last 10 minutes of class. 

These expectations align with the core values we uphold at DCIS. In an effort to hold our students accountable if we can’t readjust our classroom behaviors after the first redirection given from the teacher the student will have a Lunch reset assigned the next time they have lunch. During this time they will complete a reflection form and email to the teacher and to parent. Our goal is that through this reflection process we can figure out how to meet these expectations, and what supports might be needed to help in this process. 

Portfolio

Portfolio

A key component of a DCIS education is the requirement that students develop a portfolio of their best work each year that reflects the four domains of global leadership (Investigate the World, Recognize Perspectives, Take Action, Communicate Ideas). For each work in their portfolio, students include an artifact of the piece, which could be the work itself or some representative documentation of it, such as scanned images, photographs, an image with a link to a YouTube video for a performance-based project, etc. They also include a written reflection with the artifact that describes why they are proud of the piece.

Students work with their Advisement teacher to keep the portfolio up to date through the end of eighth grade. If students stay through high school, they maintain a portfolio through the end of their senior year, when they formally present their portfolio to a panel for review. The presentation typically results in a recommendation that the student receive the Diploma of International Studies, which becomes part of the portfolio.

Continuation Requirements

Continuation Requirements

All middle school students complete the district’s core middle school requirements. In addition, DCIS students take a World Languages course beginning in the 6th grade and continue on with that language to study for 7th and 8th grades (and through high school if they stay). 

Continuation also requires a certain number of school and community service hours and attendance at special events, which can include school or other plays and performances, conferences, debates, Model United Nations competitions, lectures, fairs and festivals, and museum exhibits or shows, among many other possibilities — as long as the event has a cultural or an international component or involves the student learning something new. Note that  continuation requirements  will be revisited in January 2021 for the 20-21 school year. 

End-of-Year Ceremony

End-of-Year Ceremony

The DCIS Continuation ceremony is a celebration intended for 8th grade students as they complete their middle school experience and matriculate to high school. Although every 8th grade student at DCIS has the opportunity to participate in the ceremony, participation is a privilege, meaning that students must meet the following requirements in order to participate:

  • Maintain a satisfactory attendance record
  • Maintain a satisfactory behavior record
  • Pass 4/5 of their classes second semester (students may not have more than one failing grade in an academic class as of the date of continuation)
  • Complete their DCIS middle school portfolio
  • Document, with their advisement teacher, at least:
    • 2.5 hours of community service
    • 5 hours of school service
    • 1 special event attended

Students may also be recognized with Honors or Distinct Honors during the ceremony if they’ve met the requirements noted in the chart above.

Students may also be recognized for the following special awards during the ceremony:

  • Perfect attendance
  • Best example of each of the five DCIS Core Values
    • Collaborative Culture
    • Diversity
    • High Expectations 
    • Integrity 
    • Reflection
English Language Acquisition (ELA)

English Language Acquisition (ELA)

Student Services

Students identified as English language learners will be enrolled in a co-taught literacy class, in which they will receive extra help with reading, writing, listening and speaking English. Learn more about frequently asked questions and answers about ELA services. If you have additional questions about the ELA program at DCIS, please contact Assistant Principal Courtney Wickham. 

Parent Opportunities

DCIS has an ELA Parent Advisory Committee (ELA PAC) to facilitate effective communication between families of ELA students and the school. The ELA PAC is open to all parents of students in an ELA program. If you would like to be involved with our school’s ELA PAC, contact Ms. Dee Horsburth or Courtney Wickham for further details. 

At the district level, families of ELA students can participate in the ELA Districtwide Advisory Committee (ELA DAC). The ELA DAC meets monthly during the school year to inform families and generate discussion about issues that affect English language learners in Denver Public Schools.

Gifted & Talented

Gifted & Talented

DCIS offers gifted and talented (GT) resources on campus for middle school students. We have a GT teacher two days a week whose primary jobs are to ensure each GT student has an advanced learning plan (ALP) and to support teachers in implementing appropriate interventions and supplemental learning. The GT teacher works with other teachers to identify GT students and works in the classroom with groups of GT students who need additional support.

For questions about the Gifted and Talented program at DCIS, contact GT teacher Vanessa Zimmermann. View GT information from the district, including resources for determining whether your child is gifted and for requesting GT services if you are new to the district.

Special Education

Special Education

Section 504 is a federal law that protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in schools. Students determined to have an eligible disability under Section 504 are entitled to a “free appropriate public education,” which includes the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student’s individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.

Our Special Education program is committed to providing a quality educational experience based on the individual needs of each child to minimize the impact of their disability through a continuum of services, ranging from those provided in a general education classroom to those in fully contained classroom settings.

In addition to getting help from special education teachers, students with disabilities may receive support from paraprofessionals, nurses, school psychologists, social workers, speech therapists and physical therapists. The goal of special education is to provide services that allow students with disabilities to acquire the skills to pursue independent living and post-secondary readiness.

Every child with a disability who attends public school and receives special education and related services must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP is a document uniquely designed for one specific student, with the intention of improving educational results for that child. Each IEP must be created in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and, in Colorado, the Exceptional Children’s Education Act (ECEA).

Parents who are interested in the quality of education received by children and youth with special needs can connect with the district’s Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC).

If you have any questions about the Special Education program at DCIS, your child’s 504 or IEP, or any related matters, please contact the following:

  • Middle School IEPs: Virgilio San Andres, special education teacher
  • Middle School 504s: Annette Lindsay, Psychologist;  Courtney Wickham, Assistant Principal
  • High School IEPs: Alex Edwards, special education teacher
  • High School 504s: Annette Lindsay, Psychologist; Courtney Wickham, Assistant Principal
Testing

Testing

We believe that assessments provide valuable information for parents and students on where students stand on the mastery of the standards and whether they are on track to graduate. Assessments help us ensure that every child receives an equitable education and is on the path to success.

DCIS administers the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) suite of tests to middle school students in the spring. The Colorado Department of Education tests a sampling of schools in social studies at 7th grade each year; we will notify 7th-grade parents if DCIS is selected as one of those schools in any given year.

Testing by Grade Level:

  • 6th Grade
    • CMAS English Language Arts
    • CMAS Mathematics
  • 7th Grade
    • CMAS English Language Arts
    • CMAS Mathematics
  • 8th Grade
    • CMAS English Language Arts
    • CMAS Mathematics
    • CMAS Science

If you have any questions about testing, please contact Site Assessment Leader Ally Smith.