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A Description of the Academic Program*
In 2003 Hillsdale High School began its redesign into three semi-autonomous Smaller Learning Communities (SLCs) centered around the Cornerstone values of Equity, Personalization, Rigor, Autonomy and Collaboration/Shared Decision-making. Our SLCs have broken with the mold of an outdated factory model of education, empowering teachers to work collaboratively, develop rigorous college preparatory curriculum and personalize the learning experience for every child.

Hillsdale has embraced SLCs as a school-wide model and has created reforms that have resulted in higher test scores, greater levels of personalization and more students successful in college preparatory programs.  With few exceptions, all 9th grade students are enrolled in four college preparatory core classes of English, World History, Biology, and Algebra I (or higher), as well as PE, World Language, and a possible elective.  Core teachers and students loop together into the 10th grade where students take English, World History, Chemistry, and Geometry.  Each student is also assigned an advisor with whom they meet several times a week to focus on academic, personal, and life-long learning goals. 

In the 11th and 12th grades, students move to a new set of teachers, with a core of two to four teachers who also loop with the student for two years whenever possible.  Students are encouraged to concurrently enroll in courses from the local community college, several of which are offered on the Hillsdale campus for ease of access.  Seniors complete a "Senior Defense" in the spring of their senior year in which students demonstrate the knowledge and skills amassed over their 4 years of high school.

Student Support
The Hillsdale teaching faculty and support staff are dedicated to the academic success and well-being of each individual student. With the implementation of SLCs, as well as a full array of support programs, students find that they have multiple and varied opportunities for academic support.  SLCs enable teachers to better employ strategies such as: looping, collaboration, integrated curriculum and instruction, personalization, differentiated instruction, and authentic learning (e.g., project-based learning, exhibitions).

Hillsdale believes (and found support in the research and consultation of scholars such as Jacqueline Ancess of Columbia University and Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University) that rather than adding remedial classes onto a core, improved instructional strategies and a more focused use of resources to support students in demanding college preparatory courses would allow more students to succeed at high levels. Our enrollment, grade, and test results suggest that this belief was well-founded.

*All academic courses offered at Hillsdale in the areas of Language, Social Science, Mathematics, and Science are College Preparatory (CP) at minimum.  Honors courses, called Advanced Standing (AS) are offered at the 9th and 10th grades for English and World History.  Students may also take Honors English in the 11th grade, preparing them for the AP English Language exam.

Hillsdale offers the following AP Courses for the 11th and 12th grades:


  • Biology
  • Chemistry 
  • Environmental Science
  • Physics I
  • Physics II


  • Calculus AB
  • Computer Science


  • English Language
  • English Literature

Social Science:

  • American Government and Politics US
  • US History


  • Studio Art

World Language

  • Chinese
  • Spanish
  • American Sign Language (not AP, but offered for college credit)

Hillsdale Graduate Profile

As a Hillsdale Graduate, you will:

Communicate effectively:

  • Write logically structured documents that demonstrate an appropriate sense of audience, purpose, and context.
  • Speak with poise, clear organization, a command of language, and an appropriate sense of audience, purpose, and context.
  • Listen actively, acknowledging and understanding different viewpoints, and providing and accepting feedback.


Read for:

  • Understanding



  • Critically:
    • Ask critical questions
    • Generate hypotheses
    • View problems from multiple perspectives
    • Analyze, evaluate, and synthesize information
    • Pursue answers and solutions through research, experimentation and/or computation. 
  • Creatively: Generate unique answers and interpretations.
  • Metacognitively: Reflect upon and assess your work.



  • Yourself:
    • Make informed and appropriate personal and academic decisions
    • Be prepared, participate and persevere
    • Reflect and self-evaluate
  • Your community:
  • Demonstrate integrity and empathy
  • Collaborate in large and small groups
  • Understand, appreciate and respect diversity
  • Participate in civil discourse and the democratic process
  • Make authentic connections between what you have learned and the wider world
  • Your world:


Understand and apply:

  • Content
  • Content skills