Starting in 2013-14, the Berkeley Public Schools Fund began working with teacher leaders and administrators at Berkeley High to lay a common instructional foundation to improve outcomes for all students. The focus of the work was on improving instruction through the teaching of Academic Language; a common language around good instruction that supports teachers in helping all students achieve academically. At the same time, the Schools Fund supported professional development work in Culturally Responsive Teaching to ensure that all students have access to learning. Both of these collaborations focused on improving instruction, which is crucial to learning. The U9 could not be entirely successful without the foundations of Academic Language and Culturally Responsive Teaching to guide instruction in the program.
The U9 took the step of shifting the structure of Berkeley High School so that teachers could best meet the needs of incoming 9th graders through increased collaboration among core teachers, increased personalization, and cohesive common curriculum. Starting in 2015-16, the Schools Fund supported two years of committee work to redesign BHS. In June of 2017, the Schools Board approved the proposal focused on the 9th grade, the “U9”, as developed by a committee of BHS Teacher Leaders, students and BHS/BUSD administrators. In addition to supporting the committee work that developed the final U9 proposal, the Schools Fund paid for 5 days of summer training for the U9 core teaching team to prepare for the 2018-19 school year. The Schools Fund also paid for the new U9 Physics Lab which you can read about here.