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Upper School (7-12)

Upper School(Grades 7-12)

At ‘Iolani, academic excellence and students’ personal growth are fostered through dynamic and innovative teaching in a multitude of disciplines to develop intellectual, personal and physical potential.

The Upper School curriculum of ‘Iolani is designed to meet the entrance requirements of leading colleges, while also encouraging students to become competent learners, skilled in reading, writing, mathematics and effective at communicating well in speech, writing, world language and the arts. At the same time, course offerings are sufficiently flexible and broad in scope to meet individual needs and interests.

Minimal requirements for a diploma (see below) are supplemented by electives which are chosen according to individual aptitudes and interests. Annually, each student chooses a course of study in consultation with his or her counselors, the appropriate department heads, and the Dean of Upper School.



Diploma Requirements

All students are required to take a minimum of four courses each semester, not including art, music, and physical education.

Seventeen units are required for a diploma. They must include the following:

  1. Four years of English.
  2. Three levels of the same world language and through the sophomore year.**
  3. Three years of math through Algebra II and math through the junior year.*
  4. Three years of history including History of the Modern World in Grade 9 and U.S. History in Grade 10.
  5. Three years of science, including Biology and Chemistry. Starting with the Class of 2020.
  6. Required courses in art, religion, guidance, and physical education.
  7. The rest of a student’s courses may be selected from a wide range of electives to bring the total to seventeen.

*A grade of C- or higher is required for placement in the next sequential level.
** (Only up to level 3) B- and teacher’s recommendations are needed for higher levels.

A Typical Six-Year Program

The following six-year program will serve as a general guide for entering students:

Grade 7

World Language
World Geography
Guidance/Physical Education/The Arts*
Elective (optional)
iDepartment, Performing Arts

Grade 8

World Language
Social Studies
Religion/Physical Education**
Elective (optional)
Art, iDepartment, Performing Arts

Grade 9

World Language
Algebra I/Geometry
Biology/Biology Honors
History of the Modern World
Life Skills/Art/Physical Education
Art, Graphics, iDepartment,
Performing Arts, Science

Grade 10

World Language
Geometry/Algebra II
Chemistry/Chem H
U.S. History
Physical Education**

Grade 11

English Electives
World Language
Algebra II/Math Elective
Physical Education**
History Elective***

Grade 12

English Electives
History Elective***
Other Electives as needed
(four solid courses minimum)

† One semester of religion must be taken in
Grade 10, 11, or 12.
* One quarter each subject
** Two quarters each subject
*** Two semesters or year of History must be taken in Grade 11 or 12.


Final examinations are held at the end of each semester and test the work of terminating courses. The grade received on the final examination is averaged as 20% of the final grade for the semester or year.

Reports are sent to the parents of all students at the end of each quarter (see School Calendar). In addition, mid-quarter reports are mailed to parents if a student is having academic difficulty.


‘Iolani accommodates students of all ability levels. Just as extra help from teachers and peer tutors is available as needed, a variety of provisions is also available for gifted and accelerated students.


‘Iolani offers 23 Advanced Placement courses in many academic areas, including English, History, Computer, Math, Art, six different sciences, and World Languages. These courses, part of an international program recognized by thousands of schools and colleges, present outstanding secondary school students with college-level curriculum. Although colleges differ in how they recognize AP scores, students who succeed on AP examinations may earn college credit based on their test performance, or be allowed to skip introductory courses and move directly into upper-level classes. Selective colleges strongly encourage students to challenge themselves. Taking AP courses is one way to do so.

Advanced Placement work, however, is not for everyone; for many students, the normal pace of ‘Iolani School is sufficiently challenging. Under no circumstances should a student’s grounding in the fundamentals be compromised in order to take an AP course. Students enrolled in AP courses must take the AP examination and are responsible for the AP exam fee. Failure to do so without prior administrative approval will result in a failure for the course.

2022-23 ‘Iolani School Course Catalogue


The Upper School is distinct from the Lower School in both geography and organization. Students entering the seventh grade adjust to departmentalized instruction and assume a more significant role in fulfilling their academic responsibilities.

Many extracurricular and athletic opportunities are available.

Upon entering ninth grade a student’s formal college-preparatory course work begins. Grades earned during the final four years at ‘Iolani constitute the transcript which is sent to colleges. Algebra I and foreign language credits earned in grades 7 and 8 and fulfilling graduation requirements will be listed on the transcript and calculated into the cumulative GPA.

As students mature, they are given increasing control over their free time. They learn the rewards of using their free periods wisely to study, conduct research, and seek help as needed. Responsible use of free time is a necessary habit for college-bound students.