“Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love,
and the future to God’s providence.”
- St Augustine
Dear Upper School Students and Parents,
Happy New Year!
As a follow up to our Christmas break letter regarding upcoming midterms and class meetings, I am writing to share additional information about the upcoming schedule.
Recognizing these are unusual times and education certainly has been impacted, we have modified our usual midterm schedule and customary expectations. It was important to develop a model that reflected both the academic integrity and overall student development for which Austin Prep is known and valued.
At the heart of our decision to administer Midterm Exams is our core value of veritas. We are unwavering on our commitment to academic excellence and have maintained that approach since the pandemic began last March.
Austin Prep shares a college profile with all institutions of higher education to which our students apply. Mindful of the competitive nature of secondary education in New England and that our students will compete with students from selective independent schools in the region, the profile emphasizes the academic vigor of Austin Prep, which includes information that our students take comprehensive exams (midterms and finals). Without such assessments, the competitiveness and value of Austin Prep transcripts would be diminished in the college application process.
The academic leadership of Austin Prep has been working with the faculty to ensure that the upcoming midterm exams fairly reflect the work and educational experiences of students since September. In other words, the upcoming midterm exams have been modified. This is reflected in several ways:
- We have reduced the number of midterm exams that students will take to a maximum of four in these disciplines: World Language, Science, Math, and History.
- Midterm exams will be a maximum of 60 minutes (which is less time than unit tests may be administered in a 75 minute block).
- Teachers continue to have great discretion in developing assessments which fairly assess student mastery of curriculum they have completed, including any break in the continuity of instruction which the pandemic may have caused.
- An early dismissal on exam days.
In the event students take two courses in the same discipline, we will individually accommodate those students. Our overarching goal is always to create an academic experience that is both challenging and caring. As we always do, we will continue to accommodate any student who has experienced a hardship that has compromised a student’s ability to successfully prepare for exams.
Academic decisions are rooted in love. Since the beginning of the pandemic we have directed great attention to the social emotional needs of students. The Health and Wellness Office cultivates relationships with students to support them in times of need and offers webinars for parents and students to assist students in managing stress and other related social-emotional health issues. Additionally, our Health Office has supported the physical well being of students.
Both students and parents routinely provide feedback that students want more social time together. Obviously, the pandemic has disrupted and limited our ability to sustain social experiences. We’ve been creative in bringing the community together with events like the Thanksgiving Drive, Lessons and Carols, the Upper School Experience, "Thriller," and The Nutcracker. What we have been unable to facilitate to date are Class Congresses -- an opportunity for grade level classes to come together. Paring class meetings with midterm exams is the confluence of good timing and creative planning.
To that end, we intentionally designed a schedule during midterm exams that includes class meetings, lunches, and activities. In our planning, we have taken into account safety protocols, carefully following capacity limits in classrooms and larger gathering spaces.
Logistical Considerations for Midterm Exams
Earlier we shared the upcoming Hybrid schedule and we now share this Midterm Schedule. Please review this schedule carefully. Although exams will occur during the first two blocks of the day, they will not follow the ordinary schedule. Instead, students will report to a designated exam room (a room assignment roster will be available next week). Faculty will provide their students with additional information and a master schedule also will be available.
Students who have opted into the full remote program will take their midterm exams in their remote settings. If you have opted into the Remote Only option by January 7th you are required to take the exam during the same time as listed in the Midterm Schedule. Teachers will provide you with a link to access the exam. Any student who opts into remote only at this time will need to remain in remote learning for the duration of the 3rd Quarter.
If students with Austin Prep Learning Plans would like to use their extended time, they need to inform Ms. Langa at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can plan accordingly.
If you miss an exam you will be required to reschedule your exam with the Academic Office by contacting email@example.com Students who are participating in the hybrid model, are not permitted to take the exam remotely.
Extra Help Option
Extra help is available every day after school. Teachers have posted the locations where they meet and students are encouraged to connect with them directly.
Due to the modifications we made to the exam schedule, students will be released early. Times will vary based on each student's schedule, but we draw your attention to this so that arrangements can be made in advance.
As you may notice when reviewing the schedule, we have afforded students the opportunity to exercise autonomy and responsibility. The time that is built into this schedule is intended for students to prepare for exams so that they can manage their time. Please take advantage of this opportunity.