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High School

Bloomington’s Jefferson and Kennedy high schools offer a rich variety of advanced level courses, Honors classes,  Advanced Placement (AP) and concurrent enrollment opportunities for students seeking additional challenges. Bloomington Public Schools also offers Dimensions Academy High School for profoundly gifted students and Nobel for naturally creative students. 

Advanced Level Courses

Advanced courses can be found in almost every content area. These courses are taken after a student has completed foundational course work and wishes to pursue career options in the subject area.  All students who meet the course requirements are encouraged to take advanced level courses.

Honors and AP

Honors courses are designed to provide academically advanced or talented students an enhanced and enriched learning experience.  Curriculum in an Honors course is extended beyond the core topics and places additional emphasis on independent learning, critical thinking and advanced research skills.  Honors classes require students to cultivate habits of independent thinking, creativity, collaboration, leadership and advanced intellectual skills.  

Honors courses lead to AP courses.  Placement recommendations are made for incoming freshmen.  Sophomores, juniors and seniors may select Honors courses if they meet the prerequisites for each course.

What makes an Honors course different?

Honors courses differ from general courses in three distinct ways: pace, complexity and depth.
Pace is related to the accelerated instructional practices and increased self-management within the classroom environment. For advanced learners, spending less time on developing background knowledge, fewer examples offered on how to do particular methods, and less teacher-led practice increases instructional pace. Students are expected to develop independence more rapidly than in the regular classroom.

Complexity is defined by the extensiveness of thinking and doing within a discipline of study and is characterized by the higher-level thought processes involved in classroom activities. For advanced learners, Honors and Accelerated courses require them to use sophisticated levels of higher-order thinking, including analysis, evaluation and synthesis, as well as using creativity, critical reasoning skills, decision making and problem solving strategies to complete coursework. Classroom situations presented by the teacher for problem solving are more abstract and infuse greater levels of ambiguity. Students are expected to explore and experiment with various formulas to find answers to complex problems. Honors and Accelerated classes require students to work together and be able to clearly and succinctly communicate group results to the rest of the class.

Depth is related to the degree to which students delve into content and develop a greater understanding of the discipline. For advanced learners, the content offers more abstract concepts and more interdisciplinary connections than in the regular classroom. Students learn and are encouraged to use the principles (rules) and theories of the discipline.

High School Honors Placement

A variety of data points (see below) will be considered in making honors class recommendations. If a student’s data suggests the need for advanced coursework, you will receive a letter in the mail recommending one or more honors course(s) in English, Social Studies, Science or Math). Families will receive the letter after the first of the year. 

Students will register for high school courses the last week of January. We encourage students who are recommended for honors courses to register accordingly. We recognize that each student has varying degrees of motivation and interest and may decide that a different sequence of courses is a better fit. Students may self select all of their core 9th grade courses, including Honors or general. However, if there are cases where the data does not align with probable success, the school will contact the family for further discussion. In some cases, this may include a request for additional documentation to support the chosen course(s).

Our goal is to ensure that students start their high school journey with both the needed challenge and flexibility to participate in the high school experience fully and successfully. After the first year of high school, many students have a greater understanding of high school expectations and can more easily choose a course load that fits their needs.  

Honors Scoring:
The scores from each measure are assigned points based on specific cut scores. These point values are shown in the table below. Higher scores result in higher point values, thereby increasing the student’s eligibility in the respective courses.

MAP Reading>=90 Nat’l Percentaile1.0
MAP Reading85 - 89 Nat’l  MN Percentile.5
MAP Math>=90 Nat’l Percentaile1.0
MAP Math85 - 89 Nat’l  MN Percentile.5
MCA Reading>=80th MN Percentaile1.0
MCA Math>=80th MN Percentaile1.0
Cumulative GPA>=3.6671.0
Cumulative GPA3.500-3.666.5

Distribution of Measures between Honors Courses

Not all measures are used for all classes and the total available points will vary by course. The table below indicates how each measure is used for different Honors courses at the high school.

Honors Math & ScienceHonors Englsih & AP Human GEography 
MAP ReadingMAP Reading 
MAP MathMAP Reading 
MCA ReadingCumulative GPA 
MCA Math  
Max: 5 points
3.0 points or more needed for recommended placement
Max: 3 points
2.0 points or more needed for recommended placement

Advanced Placement

The Advanced Placement (AP) Program enables students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school. AP courses make substantial academic demands on students. Students are required to do a considerable amount of outside reading and assignments, and demonstrate the analytical and writing abilities expected of first year students in a strong college program. AP courses help students develop the intellectual skills and self-discipline they need to do well in college. AP exams are an integral part of an AP course. The exam grade provides an important payoff to students in terms of college credit and/or advanced placement for college. Students who are highly motivated and who meet course prerequisites are recommended to take AP courses and the examinations.

Courses offered in the Bloomington Public Schools include:
  • AP Biology
  • AP Chemistry
  • AP Physics
  • AP US History
  • AP Micro Economics
  • AP Macro Economics
  • AP Calculus AB
  • AP Calculus BC
  • AP Statistics
  • AP US Government and Politics
  • AP World History
  • AP English Language and Composition
  • AP English Literature and Composition
  • AP French
  • AP Latin
  • AP Spanish
  • AP Art History
  • AP Studio Art 3D Design
  • AP Studio Art 2D Design
  • AP Studio Art Drawing
  • AP Psychology
Courses vary by high school.

Some AP classes are only offered in our Dimensions Academy High School Humanities program.  For more information go to the DAHS page for more information. 

For more information regarding the Advanced Placement program, SAT/PSAT testing, College planning, College searches, applying for college, and/or paying for college, visit

Concurrent Enrollment

Through a growing partnership with Normandale Community College, Kennedy High School is pleased to offer an additional pathway for college-bound students through concurrent enrollment.  Concurrent enrollment courses are college courses offered at the high school, taught by a credentialed high school teacher.  

Students who successfully complete these courses generate dual high school and transcripted college credit from the partnering postsecondary institution.  These credits may also be transferred to any MNSCU institution.  There is no cost for qualified students to participate.  Research shows that high school students who participate in an accelerated learning options, such as concurrent enrollment, benefit greatly from:

  • Exposure to high expectations.
  • Participation in challenging courses.
  • The momentum gained by earning college credits while still in high school.

Kennedy concurrent enrollment courses challenge high school students to think critically and read and write analytically, preparing students for greater success in college.  Through participation in concurrent enrollment, high schools establish themselves as education leaders by setting high standards and preparing students for the 21st century.

Concurrent Enrollment: College Courses Offered at Kennedy:

  • Honors Pre-Calculus
  • College Algebra and Probability
  • Honors World Literature (Interdisciplinary)
  • Introduction to Education (Youth Service)
  • African American Literature
  • MN History
  • Guitar 1
  • College and Career Academy Courses
Some classes in Dimensions Academy High School Humanities classes are also concurrent enrollment.  Visit the DAHS page for more information.  
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