Every three years, two subject-area departments engage in year-long departmental review, a collaborative self-study process. At a previous school, this process ensured that departments take a "fresh look" at their curriculum and program, adapting as new pedagogies emerge. The following topics are explored as part of review:
curriculum and instruction
course offerings and course-of-study
staffing, course loads, and student schedules
student learning needs
standardized testing results
scope and sequence (flow from lower to middle to upper school)
This year the math and English departments engaged in review anchored by discussion about where the departments are and where we want to go in the future. The following conclusions emerged from review:
Integrate PSAT and SAT preparation into the curriculum each year, and develop semester-long courses to support test prep for college-bound students (i.e. Latin for the SAT and Statistics).
Create an academic schedule that increases class time and reduces interruptions due to athletic dismissals and early departures.
Prepare students for the next level and provide expectations and accountability for achievement, and utilize placement testing and summer work to support the process.
Teach plagiarism and academic integrity in all English and social studies courses at the beginning of the school year and apply standards universally.
Offer semester-long courses that focus on areas of student interest and teacher passion that reinforce critical reading and writing concepts.
Replace senior (non-AP) English with a year-long program selected by the student from the semester course offerings.
Develop a canon of works--from fifth through twelfth grade--that students are expected to read as part of the English journey.
Focus on the process of writing en route to the product and cultivate an appreciation for different writing styles and drafting.
Reinforce fundamental math skills through a variety of instructional modalities, including projects, and increase critical thinking applications.
Offer a new math course as a bridge between Algebra I and Algebra II called Algebra Functions and Graphs and develop opportunities for remediation and additional support such as Algebra Boot Camp (summer) and Math Lab.
Consider increasing staffing by 1/2 faculty member to assist with management of course loads and diverse academic tracks.
Embed probability and statistics in each course in the upper school curriculum and offer a new course to support learning. (Probability and statistics are a prominent element of the PSAT and SAT but often truncated from math courses due to pacing.)
Assess current textbooks and determine if the resources are relevant to current courses, curriculum, and learning needs of the students.