22 August 2013 ~ 9 Comments

Calvert High School Update

Over the spring and summer, Calvert’s high school team has been hard at work researching and creating the master plan for launching the beginning of Calvert’s high school program in the Fall of 2014. We are striving to create a highly engaging, rigorous, and flexible program that prepares students for college and career.

Design Principles

Our design principles expand on Calvert’s K–8 program:

  • Engage students in real-world challenges through project-oriented learning and independent research.
  • Provide context and purpose for every lesson.
  • Promote mastery of ideas and skills that are critical for college, careers, and citizenship.
  • Focus on original research and student-initiated projects.
  • Coordinate a higher degree of peer interaction (including connecting with Calvert students worldwide).
  • Foster excellent communication skills.
  • Provide expert support and feedback.
  • Inspire excellence.

The Calvert High School In Brief

Calvert’s High School will provide a college preparatory curriculum that teaches learning strategies to help students tackle complex material. Our mastery-based approach includes expert grading and commentary.

  • Among the offerings being discussed are core, elective, AP, and multiple world language courses. We are exploring the option of dual credit courses.
  • Calvert students will use what they learn in real-world situations through original research, projects, experimentation, problem sets, various forms of writing, and portfolio projects.
  • The program will be flexible. Students can start at any time of year and work at their own pace.
  • Students will have access to course instructors through their course of study.
  • Students will work with an instructor and peers through a variety of online tools.
  • College and career counselors will help students select courses, prepare for college admissions, learn how to seek out internships, and explore career options.
  • The program will be accredited and will offer a Calvert transcript as well as a Calvert diploma upon graduation.

Calvert Parents as Co-Developers

A critical component of our development work includes feedback from Calvert families. Your responses have provided tremendous detail on what you want from a Calvert high school education. Here are a few comments that struck a chord.

“Incorporate learning from real world situations – volunteering, community projects, entrepreneurship, apprenticeship – into the courses that are being taught through Calvert… Aim to help the child develop a sense of purpose, a knowledge and understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses, and a plan for putting personal gifts into action.”

“Experiential learning [is preferred] over learning that will be forgotten in a few months.”

 “[Provide] an opportunity to connect with others through online classes doing the same course of study no matter where they are geographically.” 

Curriculum Prototyping & Focus Groups

Currently we are prototyping our 9th grade curriculum, starting with English and biology. We have begun testing our preliminary materials through focus groups with Calvert parents and students. Two successful focus groups were held recently, which will be followed by online focus groups to engage Calvert families throughout the U.S. and worldwide. We received these follow-up emails from participants:

“My son and I had a good time. I have never seen him this excited about his education. I look forward to seeing this high school come to be and [my son] will be one of your first enrollees hopefully. Thanks” 

“Thanks for giving us the opportunity to put our “two cents” in… I appreciated the fact that you are open to our suggestions. I liked a lot of what I heard. We are excited about Calvert adding a high school. I have been hoping for this for years!” 

Preliminary Pilots

This fall, we will ask 7th and 8th grade parents to test-pilot small portions of the course material, most likely as single lessons or single units of different courses. Following that, we plan to pilot full courses with select students to help us understand what works and what needs adjusting. At every development stage, we are engaging Calvert families for review and feedback.

Looking Forward

Our work on high school will lead to eventual changes for the K–8 program. We must carefully align 8th and 9th grades and also apply throughout Calvert many of the innovations that will be utilized at the high school level. Calvert is transforming into a complete pK–12 experience that must account for a student’s growth from Kindergarten through 12th grade.

This fall, you can expect regular updates on high school through our website, Facebook, blog, and the Inspire! newsletter. Join us on any or all of these venues to stay informed about the exciting changes at Calvert.

“To make life worth living, education must be not only for man’s eight-hour work day, but for his eight-hour play day.”

~ Virgil Hillyer, Calvert School’s first Headmaster

  • Laura Juengling

    I really have to ask that the design team not put too much emphasis on project-based learning. It is one of the reasons we like the k-8 program as opposed to the other current option our family has. A couple of projects throughout the school year are fine, but too many leads to student burnout and a lack of information actually being learned. In many of the projects I have seen assigned recently in other schools, the focus is placed more on the “look” of the project rather than the quality and amount of information. My children do not do well with this type of assignment, which is why we love and thus have chosen the Calvert curriculum as it is right now. Do not follow the other education sheep!

  • Vianca Lee

    this is wonderful and I will not complain because I am very grateful that my child will go to high School using this curriculum. I am thankful for all your work in developing this new step in your school and in our family… am just THANKFUL

  • Sandra

    This is wonderful news! I believe Calvert is a wonderful long term solution. I think it’s very important that the pacing be individual. That was my number one priority and Calvert listened. My other priority is that students not be tied to a computer for checking in all the time, or for their manuals. If that happens especially in K-8 we will have to leave. I love reading and discussing and checking off of my printed manual. I also hope the emphasis on classical literature and real books and textbooks remains.

  • Sara

    I agree with Laura about the projects and why we like Calvert elementary school. I am definitely relieved to hear about keeping the schedule where we can start anytime in the school year.

  • Jackie

    Hearing that Calvert will now have a High School program means we can continue with a top notch program for all the reasons we originally choose Calvert. Like others who have commented regarding project based learning, it needs to be minimal as it can become a “burnout” as stated.

  • Kylie

    I am thrilled that Calvert is making progress with the High School. My child has been a student since Pre-K, and it is nice to know that we can continue with this excellent school. Like other comments listed, I do not think too much emphasis should be put on projects which can be overwhelming for a child and the parents. Also, I am concerned about volunteering etc. Calvert states that there will be an emphasis on “volunteering, community projects, entrepreneurship, apprenticeship.” I do not think students should be required to participate in community activities as part of their school curriculum–I think it should be optional. Hopefully, Calvert will stick to what has made the homeschooling curriculum work for the past 100 plus years. Keep up the good work Calvert!

  • Rachel

    I have to agree with the other comments concerning not placing an undue emphasis on the project-based learning. Educational goals will vary from family to family and incorporating project-based learning into the core curriculum, while may be enriching for one student, may potentially take time away from other areas that the student could be focusing on and would be better served to do so. Additionally, having potentially 2 students in the high school program, it would be my preference to see the investment of educational resources by Calvert allocated to other areas of the high school program that I as a parent have limited resources to do. For instance, I can identify projects and opportunities for my students to volunteer in the local community to help with strengths and weaknesses which will allow their studies to reach beyond the textbooks and into the real world. Community service is an essential component for college applications, but I don’t believe projects incorporating those elements need to be a required part of the Calvert high school curriculum, when I can incorporate and pace those types of projects into our academic year myself without absorbing the cost as part of the required curriculum. We’ve used Calvert since pre-K and are very excited they decided to expand into high school. We’re looking forward to seeing what’s on the horizon!

  • Kim

    I’m happy to hear you’re making progress on high school. I’d love some idea on pricing. Like others, project-based learning is not a strong draw for our family. Calvert’s format has worked for us since Kindergarten. Why mess with perfection? It’s the Calvert philosophy that sets your program apart from others. I’d love for my 8th grader to be able to seamlessly progress into high school with familiarity and Calvert’s proven high level of quality.

  • Lydia

    We have been with Calvert since 1st grade. I agree that too much project based learning would be difficult for students. My son enjoys the Calvert curriculum as it is now and we would like it to continue on into the high school classes. Most high schools are based that way as well. Studying books and only once in awhile doing projects. Also those that live outside of the U.S. would have serious trouble doing community based projects. I want the traditional book learning curriculum that we now enjoy with Calvert. Also I would love to see some languages offered. We live in Germany and would love our son to learn German. Most CDs are too difficult that we have gotten at the library. Pimsleur was good as is the Rosetta Stone. I hope this will help you when planning the high school classes.