UPPER SCHOOL ACADEMICS
Our Upper School program provides academic and psychosocial learning for students in grades 6 through 12, differentiated to meet the developmental needs of our middle school and high school students. In the first year of the Upper School, specific emphasis is placed on the transition to middle school and the development of executive functioning skills including problem solving and social-emotional regulation in order to prepare students for increased academic and social demands. As students progress through High School, greater emphasis is placed on domain-specific and experiential learning, self-awareness, self-advocacy, as well as transition and future planning. These skills are tailored to each individual students’ strengths via a combination of collaborative learning groups and individual sessions. Our full-service transitional program for grades 6-12, titled Cloverleaf, works in collaboration with our Talent Development and College Counseling departments to provide a real-world context for experiential learning and post-secondary planning.
Students are provided with appropriate instructional levels for each academic subject based on assessments in each area, rather than on the traditional “grade level” followed in traditional schools. Academic classes meet three times a week for seminar and once a week for individual instruction, which allows for a true personalized learning plan that accelerates or modifies the pace of the curriculum to meet the specific needs of the student. This filling in learning gaps or pursuing special interests while raising the achievement bar.
CLINICAL & PSYCHOSOCIAL INTEGRATION
Integrated Psychosocial Support: In the Upper School, social-emotional learning is integrated into all aspects of a student’s program and thus is less explicit in its delivery than in the Lower School. We aim to deliver knowledge in a manner that is accessible and meaningful to the students’ daily lives and expectations. In the Upper School, all seminars include a team of academic teachers and a clinically supervised psychosocial teacher, who acts as liaison between the academic and clinical teams. Various clinicians join specific seminars and co-lead electives in order to provide integrated related services when appropriate. Psychosocial staff are present in seminars, homeroom, and during times of transition for in-vivo psychosocial skills coaching and reinforcement of skills taught in other aspects of the program. Psychosocial staff also assist in the implementation and modeling of strategies developed with a student’s clinical team to address skill building in the areas of executive functioning, social competencies, and emotion regulation. This support is available throughout the day in order to help students succeed at Quad Prep and in life beyond.
Executive Functioning: The Quad Preparatory School understands the significance of executive functioning and how crucial these skills are to each student’s successes at Quad Prep and beyond. We strive to ensure that executive functioning strategies are systematic, consistent, and embedded in each student’s classroom curriculum by creating an environment that is goal-oriented, fosters metacognition, and provides frequent opportunities for students to practice and generalize core executive functioning processes. These may include goal setting, planning, and prioritizing; organizing materials and information; remembering and recalling previously learned information; shifting approaches in learning; and learning how to self-monitor with the ultimate goal of becoming lifelong independent learners. All students are provided with work periods daily in order to practice these skills. Moreover, high school students are provided with supportive work periods led by clinicians in order to carefully hone in on the above skills with an eye towards greater academic autonomy.
Health and Wellness: All Upper School students are enrolled in Health and Wellness, a core component of Cloverleaf, where topics are modified yearly based on the developmental needs of the students. These groups are led by our psychologists, mental health counselors, and occupational therapists. The Health & Wellness curriculum places an emphasis on Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). ADLs consist of activities that prompt one to assume responsibilities in order to support daily life in one's community and home life. Some skills that fall under the category of ADLs covered in Health & Wellness topics include hygiene, morning and afternoon self-care and organizational routines. Skills that fall under the category of IADLs include money management, community integration and navigation, communication management, and safety maintenance. Additional topics addressed throughout the Health and Wellness classes include holistic health, developmental growth, relationships, and digital citizenships.
The Quad Preparatory School provides students with an academic program that acknowledges individual learning styles and accommodates the asynchronous development that is characteristic of twice-exceptional students. The curriculum implemented at The Quad Preparatory School is founded in the understanding that as the twice-exceptional child is building skills, s/he needs challenging content in areas of interest and engagement in higher order thinking. As the student is learning content in all academic disciplines at the intellectual level, we also work at building the skills that may be difficult due to various learning challenges and difficulties with executive functioning. Products can take many forms that can employ a strength area such as artwork, dramatic presentations, debates, written pieces, formal presentations, but also introduce and develop a student’s study skills by using quizzes and tests. This empowers and prepares them to tackle increasingly complex material, problems and issues as their basic skills develop. Twice-exceptional children are best served in a strength-based approach focusing on their interests and strong abilities. We combine the best practices of gifted education and special education as well as addressing social and emotional needs.
Quad Prep Upper School students are capable of deep intellectual inquiry and high creativity and thrive in a culture of scholarship, questioning, imagination and discovery. During the time spent at our Upper School, students typically move at an accelerated pace while delving into complex concepts in their courses. Many will complete some or all of the high school graduation requirements by 10th or 11th grade. The program for the remaining high school years emphasizes a curriculum that uses the methods of real-world disciplines and focuses on creating innovative solutions to challenges facing the world. There are opportunities for early college/dual enrollment in college courses for credit, internships, and independent studies.
Academic instruction at the Quad Prep embodies a variety of strategies. First and foremost, our students’ strengths and interests are identified and developed early, thus we focus and build on what children can do instead of getting caught up in what they cannot do. We know that when students are engaged by working in areas of talent and/or interest, they are more apt to address their challenges.
One-to-one instruction allows our teachers to accelerate, modify, pursue special interests, or adjust pacing to specific needs to ﬁll in learning gaps while raising the achievement bar. Students are prepared for academic discourse by meeting in seminar groups of varying sizes to discuss any and all areas, from math problems to philosophical and ethical issues. They also collaborate in project-based learning, grouped by similar interests and employ problem solving strategies and presentation skills. We monitor new learning in many different ways: projects, art work, dramatic presentations, debates, written pieces, and formal presentations, as well as quizzes and tests. Students gain experience in many modes of demonstrating what they know, while being scaffolded for success in their choice of product.
Until students begin taking high school level courses, their progress is assessed on a developmental scale from “emerging” when just being exposed to new material to “independent” when the material has become a part of a student’s store of knowledge or skills.
Beginning at grade 9, or when they take their first high school level class, students are assessed in their classwork using percentage ratings. In grades 6, 7 & 8, individual assignments are evaluated with rubrics that result in percentage grades on individual assignments to transition them to the quantitative report in grades 9-12. This approach has helped perfectionistic students better understand and accept a system of evaluation using it to support and inform improvement, rather than to become highly self-critical and underachieve in the face of high anxiety as can happen with many gifted students. Continual executive functioning coaching also helps twice exceptional students to acquire skills and become independent in the tools that help them to fulfill their potential.
When a student enters Quad Prep, they are assessed on math & reading skills using the NWEA MAP Growth Assessment which is an adaptive diagnostic assessment. This allows us to see what students know and what they are ready to learn next. Diagnostics assessments, along with psychosocial and neurological documentation, will be reviewed to provide appropriate instruction, pacing, content for our students and drive initial expectations. In late spring, students will be assessed again using the NWEA Map Growth Assessment which will allow us to see their growth throughout the school year. We use this assessment to show growth as it provides a range of difficulty that is more appropriate for our students than a grade level pencil and paper test on which many of them often reach the ceiling, not giving teachers helpful diagnostic information. The NWEA tests can narrow down specific skills that need work, no matter how high a student may score. Teachers find this very helpful in targeting individual needs that can be embedded into the high level content during the 1:1 instructional period.
Teachers prepare reports cards twice yearly, rating skill sets covered during the semester based on a variety of standards. The report also includes a narrative of the curriculum in each content area as well as a narrative of the child’s progress in that subject area. Psychologists and other clinicians (speech pathologists, occupational therapists, learning specialists) also write narratives describing a child’s progress and what they are working on.
The Quad Preparatory School offers the possibility for all Upper School students in traditional grades 7-12 to take courses that have been developed at the high school level using high school content, sources, and standards. Teachers create syllabi for these courses that delineate the points of assessment during the course. Rubrics for major assignments are included in the syllabi giving a clear framework of evaluation of each graded assignment. A student’s evaluation of each assessment point in the course will be recorded in percentage points. All courses offer a variety of assessments that meet the expression styles of students while meeting the learning outcomes delineated for that assignment. If students complete high school requirements before the end of the senior year, we offer specialized courses, independent study, or the possibility of dual enrollment completing college courses for credit.
Please browse the following pages to read more about Cloverleaf, our transition planning program with College Counseling and Talent Development, our early interest-based courses by-design.