Curriculum at Eagle Rock School encourages student ownership of learning, demands documented or demonstrated mastery of graduation competencies (requirements) and allows for the individualization of credit toward graduation. Our graduation competencies are based in the values of our school (8 + 5 = 10) and specifically within the 5 expectations. It is distinct from curriculum at many other schools in several ways. Our goal is that every Eagle Rock graduate will be a productive, engaged citizen, ready and willing to make difference in the world.
Consistent with the findings of the National Research Council, we design curriculum that is “conditionalized.” That is, instead of decontextualized facts and formulas we design courses that put knowledge and skills to use under conditions where application would be useful. Furthermore, NRC supports an alternative to traditional scope and sequence where “problems are solved not by observing the natural landscape through which the …curriculum passes, but by mastering time tested routines, conveniently placed along the path.” “An alternative to the rutted path [scope and sequence] curriculum is one of learning the landscape.” We expose students to the features of various subjects that arise naturally in problem situations.
Students graduate from Eagle Rock on the basis of demonstrated competencies rather than the more traditional “seat time” and grades. Eagle Rock classes are both ungraded and nongraded. In other words, we do not admit students as freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors, nor do we expect them to graduate in any particular time period. It is expected that all students will remain at Eagle Rock School a minimum of six trimesters in order for sufficient personal growth and character development to take place to be an Eagle Rock graduate.
A curriculum must be a coherent whole rather than a siloed set of academic subjects. Further, the purpose of high school must be more than exposure to a narrow set of subjects established in 1892. The purpose must include mind and character. Our expectations were established as five characteristics that would produce a graduate prepared to make a difference in the world. We emphasize academics, personal growth and community values.
Students graduate when they are able to demonstrate mastery of our requirements, a process that does not require grades, only evidence of whether or not they have achieved mastery. Although most students earn credit through coursework, other activities such as teaching a class, participation in service projects off campus, or independent study plans serve occasionally as mechanisms for earning credit.
Competencies are not “handed down” to Eagle Rock to follow but were custom-crafted to fit the mission and purpose of Eagle Rock School.
Graduation competencies (requirements) were created by Instructional Specialists (IS) and administrators knowledgeable in various disciplines with reference to the Colorado Academic Standards, as well as published lists of standards by professional groups such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
Our 5 expectations are:
- Communicating Effectively: The primary purpose of the course is to help students understand how to get a message across. [i.e., Poetry, music or art class]
- Expanding Knowledge Base: Help students understand and provide the tools to learn how to learn…able to apply to other situations. [ i.e., Problem Solving course]
- Engaged Global Citizen: Help students learn something to better interact with various people and cultures. [i.e., second language, worker’s rights course]
- Leadership for Justice: Help students understand what it takes to make a place (ERS, city, country) more fair and equitable [i.e., Restorative Justice course]
- Creating Healthy Life Choices: Help students understand that decisions they make can increase or decrease positive outcomes regarding health of self, society, others, or the environment [i.e., You are what you Eat or a Riverwatch course]