Academic Placement Bishop Kenny High School

Bishop Kenny High School offers a Catholic, college preparatory learning environment that prepares students well for college and for life. In order to help students succeed in our learning environment and to ensure a smooth transition from grade school to high school, incoming ninth grade students are placed in math, science and English based on past coursework and standardized assessments. We believe that a strong start is the key to a student's overall success and that good placement allows a student the opportunity to achieve his or her academic goals in high school.

Placement is a starting point for a four year career at Bishop Kenny

Freshman placement is not only about the ninth grade. As students make the transition from grade school to high school, the ninth grade year serves as the foundation for a student's tenure at Bishop Kenny. Our hope is that students will use this year to gain confidence as well as develop the fundamental skills necessary for academic success in later courses.

There are no tracks at Bishop Kenny. A student who is placed in a college preparatory course in the ninth grade has the opportunity to move into honors course work the following year. After initial placement is made by the Academic Office at the start of the ninth grade year, the student drives his or her later placement based on performance in prerequisite courses. For example, a student who excels in college prep Biology in the freshman year may qualify to place in Chemistry Honors in the sophomore year. A student in Biology Honors must maintain a grade of 85 or higher to remain in honors the following year.

Understanding the Placement Process

The following factors are evaluated in determining a student's placement in the ninth grade:

  • Results of the High School Placement Test (HSPT), administered on January 25, 2020 at Bishop Kenny
  • Past standardized testing results provided by the previous school (Catholic grade school students = 7th grade Terra Nova results)
  • 8th Grade coursework and grades earned
  • 8th Grade teacher recommendation

All four factors are given equal bearing in determining the best starting place for a student entering the ninth grade. Coursework at Bishop Kenny is rigorous and students can expect to delve further and deeper into academic content under the guidance of professional educators. Because honors courses involve an accelerated pace and higher order skills, only students who have demonstrated mastery of prerequisite skills are placed in these courses. The intent is not to hold students back from taking honors courses, but rather that students will have the best opportunity to thrive at the level they are placed.

Understanding the High School Placement Test (HSPT)

The purpose of the High School Placement Test (HSPT) is to serve as one standard instrument of measure used to inform the placement process. Bishop Kenny High School serves approximately 1,250 students from throughout the greater Jacksonville area. Given the diversity of students entering the ninth grade, the HSPT serves as a diagnostic tool to evaluate a student's readiness for the college preparatory environment. Furthermore, the HSPT is not a "high stakes test." All students who test at Bishop Kenny are evaluated in relation to one another. The HSPT score report is similar to other standardized test results which report scores from the highest (99th percentile) to the lowest (1st percentile). Bishop Kenny uses the Local Percentiles, along with the data and information received from the student's previous school, to make an informed decision on where best to place the student so that he or she will have the greatest opportunity to succeed.

How should my student prepare for the HSPT?

A solid middle school curriculum is the best preparation for the placement test. The test serves as a diagnostic assessment in order to measure a student's readiness for high school and aptitude for future success. Therefore, Bishop Kenny does not recommend an investment in test preparation materials. The Scholastic Testing Service advises against third-party providers as they do not release test content to other publishers. The links below provide more information regarding the content assessed by the HSPT. While there is no official HSPT practice test, Bishop Kenny has evaluated the following resource and we feel confident in recommending it to students who wish to practice their skills in preparation for the HSPT: https://www.mometrix.com/academy/hspt-test/.

Important note: We use the local percentiles on each battery of the HSPT for placement in English, math, and science courses. Click the button above for more information.

Understanding Course Placement

English 1 Placement

Students will complete four credits in English which includes a college-preparatory study of literature, English grammar, and vocabulary while developing critical reading and writing skills. English 1 serves as the foundation for this four year program of study. Advanced students who demonstrate an accelerated mastery of verbal, language and reading skills on the HSPT, past standardized assessments, and in their 8th grade coursework are placed in English 1 Honors.

Math Placement

Sequence of Mathematics Courses at Bishop Kenny

A strong start in mathematics in the 9th grade is critical for future success in later courses. Therefore, proper placement is essential. As with other disciplines, a student's placement in mathematics is based on student achievement on standardized assessment and the information gathered from the student's previous school. Students must complete four credits in math to earn a Bishop Kenny diploma. For admission to a state university in Florida, coursework must include four years of college preparatory math (Algebra 1 and above).

Importance of Algebra

Students need a solid foundation in Algebra in order to be successful in higher mathematics courses, as well as to succeed on college entrance exams (SAT and ACT). Therefore, Algebra 1 serves as the foundation for a college-preparatory study of mathematics. Students in Bishop Kenny's Algebra 1 program delve deeper into algebraic concepts than the traditional algebra course. As a result, students will gain the problem solving skills and content mastery necessary for success in Algebra 2 and beyond. Given the rigor of later math courses at Bishop Kenny, confidence in and mastery of algebra is essential.

Placement in Algebra 1 or Geometry

Only those students who demonstrate a strong mastery of algebra on past standardized assessments and the High School Placement Test (typically 85th percentile and higher) will be considered for placement in Geometry in the ninth grade. Students considered for Geometry must also have completed Algebra in the eighth grade, maintained strong academic performance and meet or exceed expectations for pre-requisite skills. The rationale for this high standard is to ensure that these students have a strong foundation in algebra in order to be successful in Algebra 2 as a sophomore, as well as the two (2) additional math courses required in the junior and senior year. Furthermore, a student who begins with Geometry may aspire to take an AP mathematics course as a senior. In order for that student to be successful, especially those who aspire to finish in AP Calculus, a strong start in math is essential.

The majority of freshman students are placed in Algebra 1 or Algebra 1 Honors. While many of our incoming 9th grade students may already have exposure to algebra in middle school, student performance at Bishop Kenny has proven that a full year of college-preparatory Algebra 1 serves to build a strong foundation for later success in mathematics. High performing students in Algebra 1 may request to take two mathematics courses in the sophomore or junior year in order advance further in math. In that case, the student would meet with an academic administrator to review current progress and the four year educational plan before a modified course of study is approved.


Science Placement

Beginning with the 2019-2020 school year and in keeping with our mission as a college preparatory school, all freshman students are placed in Biology or Biology Honors. This course is an introduction to biological science with an emphasis on themes that guide modern biological research. To be placed at the honors level, incoming students must demonstrate high performance on standardized assessments, including the HSPT (approx. 85th percentile), and eighth grade coursework. Although the content of Biology Honors is similar to our college preparatory Biology, the depth and accelerated pace of the honors course requires students to have higher level memorization and critical thinking skills.

Preparing minds, hearts, and souls for college and life

9th Grade Course Offerings in English, Math, and Science

  • English - English 1 (132) or English 1 Honors (130)
  • Mathematics - Algebra 1 (331), Algebra 1 Honors (330), Geometry (321), or Geometry Honors (320)
  • Science - Biology (431) or Biology Honors (430)

Academic placement in the ninth grade is the starting point for a successful four years at Bishop Kenny. For questions or more information regarding the placement process, contact:

Mr. Michael Broach, Academic Dean | 904-398-7545 ext. 270 mbroach@bishopkenny.org

Created By
Michael Broach


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