May good planning for the future let us enjoy the present all the more.
Millennium School’s goal is to prepare our students well for the transition to high school, not only to see them off eventually to a great high school, but also to give ourselves enough confidence to savor the adventures of middle school!
High School Counseling with Amanda Mallory
Amanda is one of the leading school placement consultants in San Francisco, and has served on our Advisory Board since before Millennium opened. She is an integral part of our high school placement process, both training the team to support our students through the application process, and working with families directly. In the spring of students’ 7th grade year, Amanda meets with each Millennium family at school for an individualized counseling session, followed by time for questions over email or phone over the summer and fall. The goal of these sessions is to help each family select a good set of high school options and to prepare an application strategy unique to their child.
In addition to this personal counseling, take a look at the Points to Ponder document created by Kazz Regelman for general guidance on how to explore high school options.
Test Preparation Program
There are three standardized tests used by private high schools - the SSAT, HSPT (for Catholic schools), and ISEE. The three tests are similar, though the most commonly used is the SSAT, so that is the focus of our test preparation program.
The SSAT and our SSAT Preparation Program
The SSAT is a standardized test of verbal and mathematical ability, required by most private schools. Like other traditional standardized tests, it unfortunately takes a narrow view of intelligence, and certainly does not measure a human being well - it can be said that it best measures skill at taking the SSAT. Our own objections notwithstanding, it is a necessary gauntlet for most or all of our students to run, and so we will invest significant time in preparing them for it. Our aim is to do so without disrupting the more personally engaging, project-based learning style we've created at Millennium.
Our SSAT Prep class is integrated into our 7th and 8th grade (fall) curriculum, taught weekly by Millennium parent Kazz Regelman. Kazz’s background includes experience as a writer for test prep questions, a supervising editor at an education company, and a test tutor, application advisor and essay coach for 25 years. The class includes several practice SSAT tests to familiarize 7th graders before they take the official test in the fall of their 8th grade year.
As part of this SSAT class, we ask each family to purchase access to Test Innovators, an online, adaptive test-prep platform that has come highly recommended by other schools. The platform includes 6 full practice tests, large banks of practice questions, content and strategy teaching including video lessons, and a helpful data analysis tool which will let us as teachers see where students need the most help in preparing for the test.
The official SSAT test itself is offered four times (October, November, December, and January) for 8th grade students. Most students take it once or twice. In addition to the standard test dates, we are exploring the possibility of offering a “Flex test”, which is an official SSAT that can be taken at any date, perhaps offered at our school. We should know if this is possible by late spring. SSAT registration and fee info can be found here, and fee waivers are available.
HSPT (High School Placement Test)
The HSPT is required by Catholic schools. Like the SSAT, the exam consists of individual tests covering verbal ability, quantitative ability, reading comprehension, vocabulary, language arts, and mathematics. Students take the test one time in January (after they submit their application) at the Catholic School to which they applied. If you are applying to more than one Catholic school, the school at which you take the test will share results with the other schools to which you also applied. It is the applicant's responsibility to check with individual schools for testing dates and school specific details. Most Catholic schools do not share results with students or their families until after acceptances. Once you know which Catholic school you are applying to, go on their website and you will find information about the Admissions Test.
Lowell High School and SOTA
Lowell High School and the Asawa School of the Arts (SOTA) are the only public high schools in San Francisco requiring admissions exams or submissions. Lowell requires an admissions examination - details here. SOTA requires an application and portfolio submission - details here.
Summer Recommendations for Rising 8th Graders
Once you’ve met with Amanda and nailed down a few schools you are interested in, start investigating your high school choices by visiting school websites and talking to people who know certain high schools well. For students applying to private high schools, you will want to take some time over summer to go onto the websites of the schools that you’re considering. You can fill out online inquiry forms (if they are up) which will enable you to access open house dates + schedule your students’ shadow visits. Some schools will be ready to take reservations over the summer, and others will give you a message to check back. It’s important to make those reservations as soon as you are able because space will fill up (generally you are safe to do so by mid-August).
For those families considering boarding school options, note that Town School for Boys hosts an annual Boarding School fair (for both single-gender and co-ed boarding schools) in May.
Summer Test Prep
At the close of the school year, Kazz Regelman will share with families a set of recommendations to continue practicing for the SSAT (or the HSPT or ISEE) test in the fall. For most students, continual practice on vocabulary is helpful, especially by reading great books. Families will also have access to the Test Innovators platform, with its practice tests, historical information on how your particular child did in their past practice tests, and material to continue honing skills. Depending on your child’s needs, you may want to explore additional online resources like Khan Academy, or a round of tutoring or test-preparation classes. If unsure how to proceed, please feel free to contact Kazz (email@example.com) or your child’s advisor.
Fall Recommendations For 8th Graders
When you request application materials from a school, that school will tell you exactly what to do next. Most schools will require a shadow visit and an interview. Schools have open houses on weekends in September through early January.
During 8th grade fall, families should expect to be busy on weekends with open houses, test taking, and application submissions. Shadow visits happen during the week. We also want to emphasize that it’s very important our students apply themselves on day one of school this fall. Showing success on progress reports and through teacher recommendations will be essential the application process.
There is also the San Francisco High School Fair which takes place in November, though by this time it would be wise to have already begun the process as described above. We will share updates with parents once the date and location is announced for this year’s fair.
Private school deadlines are mid-January.
Catholic school deadlines vary starting in November. Testing dates follow the application.
For those applying to selective public high schools -- in San Francisco, Lowell High School and the Asawa School of the Arts (SOTA) -- please check SFUSD for deadlines and relevant information.
Decisions are released in mid-March
Please feel free to contact Amanda Mallory with questions about the high school application process or approaches for your child. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org and her office phone number is (415) 421-4177.
Always feel free to contact your child’s advisor with questions as well.