Make new friendships with American and international students, have meaningful conversations with your teachers, receive reading, writing and speaking support from a skilled English language instructor, and immerse yourself in small sized English speaking classes that include science, math, history, literature, art, music, drama and sports.
Ye Xing Li has attended PWHS for four years and says, “Portland Waldorf High School gives me a great challenge, but there is also more freedom here.” Carmen Garza spent her 9th grade year at PWHS and says, “Reading and writing are hard, but I receive so much help from my teachers and friends. I really enjoy the variety of subjects, like art and movement. It is a great experience!”
Who May Apply? International students may enroll for one to four years. Students may join the school any time up to the start of 11th Grade – we do not accept new students in senior year. Portland Waldorf School provides the form I20 to any international student accepted to the school.
English Ability Required? We do not require a TOEFL score for admission into Grades 9 and 10, but we do require English speaking, listening and reading assessments during the interview, so we suggest that students’ English ability be roughly at the following score levels:
- 9th Grade: 55
- 10th Grade: 65
- 11th Grade: 70*
*We do require a TOEFL test score of 70 for applicants to 11th Grade.
Curriculum: Portland Waldorf High School International Student Program (ISP) is an English language immersion program in which students are placed in main stream American high school courses from the first day of entry. They learn a variety of subjects including social studies, literature, writing, science, math, music, art and movement along with their American peers for the majority of the day. Most PWHS academic courses are comparable to honors level courses in public schools; students are expected to do a great deal of reading, demonstrate independent critical thinking in class discussions and writing, and produce creative and informative presentations and projects. This level of expectation is challenging for many American students and even more so for ISP students who naturally take longer to complete reading and writing assignments. To support the ISP students’ learning, teachers differentiate the homework assignments within the mainstream classroom, thus enabling the student to spend more time understanding the concepts and mastering the skills accurately rather than rushing to finish the assignments. When ISP students demonstrate Advanced English ability (a TOEFL score of 80), teachers remove the ISP accommodation and hold students to the mainstream standards of their American peers.
It is important to note that students will be restricted to the following math levels in each grade:
- 9th Grade: Algebra I or II
- 10th Grade: Geometry
- 11th Grade: Algebra II or Precalculus
- 12th Grade: Precalculus or Calculus
If students study above or below these levels they may be required to hire an independent tutor.
English Language Support: International students are required to pay a $5000 ISP fee each year. This fee provides over three and a half hours per week of additional English instruction (English grammar, vocabulary, academic writing skills and TOEFL preparation) with a trained ELL instructor. This fee is non-refundable even if the student achieves a score of 80+ on the TOEFL. When a student scores and 80 or higher on the TOEFL, they are eligible to receive mainstream instruction and assignments in all classes and are no longer required to attend the extra English courses with the ELL teacher. However, regardless of the TOEFL score, all new students are required to pay the ISP fee and participate in ELL classes for the first quarter of their first year to ensure that their reading, writing, speaking and comprehension in the classroom are adequate to support their academic success.
More Details about the ISP Accommodation, Grading, Transcripts & Extra-curricular Activities
More About the ISP Accommodation: Providing the ISP option for students with beginning and intermediate English allows them to better participate in the learning and better demonstrate what they’ve learned. Teachers may adjust assignments by having the student read less of the text, read a different version of the text, write shorter papers, or write fewer papers. The goal of the ISP accommodation is to reduce the homework load while ensuring that the student understands the content of the course and practices the skills being taught.
Here is an example of the type of accommodation an ISP student would receive: in a class studying Romeo and Juliet, the American students are expected to read the entire play and then write a five-page analysis of one scene. The ISP students are allowed to read the play in their own language, or in a simplified English version, and be tested in English on their knowledge of the plot and characters. They then read one scene in English so that they can write a shorter, two-and-a-half-page analysis of that scene. The benefits of this approach are that the student is able to understand the plot and character development by reading a simpler version, is able to participate in class discussion because of that understanding, practices reading in English when analyzing the scene, and has time to make their English composition thoughtful and accurate because of the shorter length of the paper.
Grading: Students receiving the ISP accommodation will receive a numeric grade just like mainstream students, and the grade will be based on the same criteria as students following the mainstream curriculum. For example: if the paper is graded on grammar, structure and development of a thesis, the modified paper, although shorter, will also be graded on those criteria.
Transfer Credits: Students may transfer into our school up through the start of 11th Grade. Any classes that they took in their home country will be transferred to our transcript and given credit with a Pass grade and will count toward their credit requirements for graduation. The Registrar will complete a thorough transcript analysis prior to acceptance of the student to ensure that graduation is possible.
ISP Accommodation Credits: Courses taken with the ISP accommodation will be listed on the transcript with the same name as the mainstream courses and the acronym “ISP”, and the student will be given credit in the subject area studied (e.g. history, science, etc.) Students may request to take one course with ISP accommodation and another course without the accommodation (students often don’t need the accommodation in math and science courses), but the ultimate decision rests with the high school faculty. Most students will have few to no ISP courses by their 11th or 12th Grade year. Our international students have been accepted to a number of universities including Portland State University, Concordia University, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Lewis and Clark College and California Polytechnic State University.
Diploma Options: To receive a PWHS diploma, students must meet the State of Oregon requirements for a high school diploma. Most students complete our entire curriculum, which far exceeds the state requirements. In order to be competitive for selective American colleges, students will need to earn at least a 3.0 GPA and a TOEFL score of 80 by their senior year, and be able to take the ACT or SAT test. If students do not meet these standards, their college options may be limited.
Extra-curricular Activities: Sports offered after school include: Cross Country, Girls Volleyball, Basketball, Ultimate Frisbee and Track & Field. New students entering 10th or 11th Grade may practice with the teams for the first year, but may not compete until their second year.
Tuition & Fees
International students and their families are responsible for acquiring and paying the cost of their own medical insurance and transportation to and from Portland, Oregon. The additional cost of education is listed below:
- Application Fee: $150
- High School Enrollment Fee: $100
- Tuition: $18,200/year
- HS Field Trip Fee: $650/year
- ELL Class Fee $5,000/year
- TOTAL $24,100 for the first year
Not included in above total:
- Suggested Personal Spending Allowance: $200/month
- Host Family (if needed). If student is not living with their own family, then they will need to work with one of our partner organizations to have an English speaking host family arranged. If the student’s parents do not speak English, the family will need to hire a third party organization to facilitate communication between parents and Portland Waldorf School. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
How to Apply
*Please note all International applicants must either come through an agency that will coordinate a local host family OR be coming to the Portland area to live with their own parents while in school here.
1. Complete and submit our International Student Inquiry Form
2. Complete our Online Admission Application
3. Pay our application fee (pay online, or mail your check to the address below)
4. Complete and submit our PWHS International Supplemental Application (download and read instructions for how to complete questionnaires, teacher evaluation forms, and records request)
All supplemental materials should be sent as PDF files via email to:
or hard copies can be mailed to:
Portland Waldorf High School
2300 SE Harrison St.
Milwaukie, OR 97222
Once your application is complete, we will be in touch to schedule an interview.