11th Grade: What to Expect

Kim Conte
Big Kid

back to school guide

As we count down the days to back to school, the Daily Buzz talks with moms and public school teachers about what you and your child can expect in the coming year.

Today high school teacher Amw529 and 11th grade mom FIVEHAPPYHEARTS give us the inside scoop about what to expect in 11th grade.


Amw529: The main subjects are math; science (typically chemistry, physics, or biology); history; English; and electives like foreign languages, business courses, fine arts courses, vocational courses, etc.

Grades will vary from teacher to teacher and subject to subject. In my [chemistry] classes, students are assessed on their homework, class work, and labs.

The main educational goals for this age will depend on the student's plan—are they going to college or training for a career?  

FIVEHAPPYHEARTS: The main educational goals for junior year are to pass all the credits needed to graduate while maintaining a good grade-point average.

School Supplies

Amw529: Most teachers will give their requirements with the syllabus on the first day. For my course they need a pen, pencil, 3-ring, 2-inch binder for all of the handouts, paper and notes, and a 4-function calculator (at least). Some teachers require a bound composition book and some math classes require a TI-83 graphing calculator.

FIVEHAPPYHEARTS: Expect to spend about $50 on paper, folder, pencils, and a backpack or a nice purse.


Amw529: Students should expect to have at least 45 min of homework from each subject, and many students in 11th grade take Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate curriculum (AP and IB) where they should be getting one hour or more of homework per class period as these are college courses.

I would like to see parents help students study with notes, flashcards, etc., where the student generates the material to study from. Parents should not be doing their child's homework or projects at this point as that will not help those who are college-bound.

FIVEHAPPYHEARTS: I always help out with homework, but by this time they are basically on their own.

Social Scene

Amw529: Peer group is a key at this age level. I think there are always students who are picked on and though we as teachers do our best to alleviate situations in the halls and other common areas, we can't navigate the technological bullying that goes on much more at this age.

Peer pressure is a huge issue. We find in our school that this actually can contribute to some of our racially based achievement gaps where students of other races who do well are accused by friends of "acting white." I've actually heard this phrase used in the classroom and the halls, and we work as a faculty with ways to address this.

FIVEHAPPYHEARTS: There are parties all the time and we've got to watch where they go. It's scary, but you got to let them grow up.

I don't let my daughter go any place that I don't know. She only sleeps over at her best friend's house because I know the mom.

After-school Activities

Amw529: There are many activity options for students—varsity sports, clubs, honor societies, etc. Many of these clubs, however, are losing funding for after-school time due to school budgets being cut.

Behavioral Issues

Amw529: My juniors tend to be either very independent—they don't care what they're parents think about their progress—or very dependent—mom and dad still fight all of their battles. They are talkative to the point of being excessively social in the classroom, they are not always reliable when it comes to bringing supplies such as paper or writing utensils, they do not always do their homework, and they act without thinking of the consequences.

FIVEHAPPYHEARTS: Attitude can be a problem at this age. Some kids think they are ruling the world! LOL.


Amw529: First offenses for minor infractions tend to be administrative after school detentions. Repeat offenders may end up in Saturday school or in school suspension. Severe offenses such as drugs or fighting may end up with out of school suspension or possible expulsion.

FIVEHAPPYHEARTS: Privileges are taken away.


Amw529: Most of our juniors drive, but they are not guaranteed a parking spot. Seniors purchase parking spots first, and then if there are any left juniors can get them on a first come first serve basis. Some of our juniors have classes that they take at other schools—vocationally based—so they need to travel (even though buses are provided for this). One of the big problems is we are still considered a "closed" campus so students should not be leaving in their cars during the day to get their lunches. But we know they do...


Amw529: We have parents who help us with copying (we love our copy moms); fundraisers during the lunch periods for clubs or classes—such as T-shirt or homecoming ticket sales; and chaperoning for field trips. To get involved, contact the school office, and they can send you to who needs help the most.

Any other issues in the 11th grade?

Amw529: Although I personally don't like students having jobs during the school year, I know many of my juniors do work—for some it is a financial necessity for their families. Others provide child care for their younger brothers and sisters.

College decisions should be on the horizon for these students. They should be taking a PSAT test in October and should take the SAT at least once this year. If they're taking an AP class they will also have AP tests in May. They should be meeting with their counselors to make those decisions about college choices and how they relate to what courses they should be taking both the junior and senior years.

Students not planning on college should also be working on a plan so that they are ready to enter the job market.

Thanks so much to the 11th grade teachers and moms who helped us present this valuable Back to School information.

Since schools and activities vary depending on the district and where you live, tell us what the 11th grade experience like for you and your big kid!

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