The Story of Health and Science School (HS2)
Health and Sciences School (HS2) offers students a unique choice within the Beaverton School District's options schools and programs. With a total enrollment capped at about 750, HS2 has the following distinguishing features:
- It is a combined middle and high school, serving students in grades 6 through 12.
- It is committed to serving diverse, traditionally underserved student populations.
- Its core curriculum incorporates a focus on health and sciences.
- It is part of the Expeditionary Learning/Outward Bound (ELOB) school network that emphasizes rigorous, inquiry-based and often project-based learning.
- It practices proficiency-based assessment and grading.
- It expects all students to graduate ready for postsecondary education.
The idea for HS2 was born in 2004-05, the product of converging needs in the Beaverton School District. District administrators were concerned about accommodating projected growth in high school enrollment and they had an interest in expanding the district's health and science career offerings to a broader range of students. In the prospect of a new smaller school, district leaders saw an opportunity to absorb additional enrollment while enriching the district's existing lineup of options schools and programs established as alternatives to larger middle schools and high schools.
The district assigned Steve Day, then a science teacher on special assignment, to plan and lead a new high school. At that time, he also had lead responsibility for the district science curriculum, a science fair, and science teacher professional development. He assembled a small team of educators, including science teachers Mark Geren and Maria Carrillo, and communuity partners, including representatives from Intel, PSU, PCC, Vernier, Providence, OIT, and OHSU, to do the planning. By the spring of 2006, the HS2 group was talking with national representatives of Expeditionary Learning/Outward Bound about making HS2 an ELOB school. Although it considered other national models, the group liked the ELOB commitment to diversity, its rigor, and the fit of expeditionary (hands-on, project-based) learning to a curriculum with a focus on health and science. ELOB, in turn, was interested in HS2 and offered the school staff training and program coaching under a five-year grant.
The design of HS2 took shape over the summer and fall of 2006. The planning group decided to create a relatively small school, grades 6 through 12, focused on health and science, and operating on the ELOB model. It also was to be the Beaverton district's first school to replace traditional points-based grades and credits with proficiency-based assessment and credit. In opting for ELOB, HS2 committed to a learning program with such features as expeditions (student learning experiences) that cut across subject areas, production and presentation of student work, reading and writing instruction in all subject disciplines, and inquiry-based math, sciences, and social studies. ELOB also embraces a school culture that fosters character, equity, high expectations, a supportive learning environment, a professional community, and engagement of families in the life of the school.
About the same time, HS2 also became a part of the Oregon Small Schools Initiative (OSSI), which operated primarily from 2004 to 2010. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Meyer Memorial Trust, OSSI, was a network of some 40 Oregon small schools created from scratch or from the conversion of traditional comprehensive high schools into smaller autonomous schools. Joining OSSI brought HS2 additional resources that were used for a teacher planning retreat, extra instructional coaching, equity conferences, and student summer camps and family nights to attract prospective students.
The growth plan for HS2 called for phasing in grade levels. In 2007-08, the school would start with one cohort of ninth graders. In 2008-09, it would add a sixth grade and another ninth grade cohort while the previous year's ninth graders moved up to tenth grade. In 2009-10, new sixth grade and ninth grade cohorts were added while earlier classes moved on to become seventh, tenth, and eleventh graders. In 2010-11, additional cohorts of sixth and ninth graders were added while existing students moved on to fill up the seventh, eighth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades, completing the school's enrollment at roughly 700 to 750.