The school’s powerful educational program and deep partnership with Clark have created a culture where academic success is universal. Beginning in the ninth grade, all students pursue a rigorous college-preparatory program consisting of all honors classes. At the same time, instruction is individualized to connect to each student’s particular level of development. There is no tracking. Instead, there are small classes, personal relationship-building with a caring and competent faculty, 90- minute learning blocks, and homework sessions in the morning and evening.
UPCS Has No Pull Out Classes
The school uses a full immersion model for its English language learners, meeting the needs of these students within its small classes. In addition, teachers work to promote students’ social and emotional development as a critical piece of overall academic and life success. By offering a common curriculum with few electives, the school can deploy its teaching resources more efficiently than the typical high school, keeping class sizes low (22 or less) in core academic subjects.
Accelerated Advancement in Middle School
To make an accelerated college preparatory curriculum accessible to all students by the beginning of high school, the grade 7-8 curriculum is designed to address the significant academic and English language skill gaps of entering students. Literacy is a primary focus of these years, helping students to accelerate their reading and writing skills to grade level as rapidly as possible. Students also spend extended blocks of time learning the hows and whys of basic mathematical operations. And while students are developing basic literacy and numeracy skills, they are introduced to the distinctive modes of analysis in the core disciplines; they begin to engage in projects where they learn to “think like scientists or historians.” For example, incoming seventh graders with very low reading levels learn how to conduct a literacy analysis, using picture books as their texts. Entering seventh graders attend a month-long August Academy that helps them acclimate to the school and begin their path to high academic achievement. Whenever possible, teachers loop with students in seventh and eighth grades to ensure that no time is lost in those critical years.
Un-Tracked, Honors Level Classes for All
The honors-level program in grades 9- 12 is modeled after a prep school course of study. Teachers follow a curricular mantra of “minds thinking”- asking students to show and explain critical thinking through writing at all times. The school offers few electives; instead, juniors and seniors can take courses at Clark University, choosing from the entire college course catalog.