Academics & Grading
Does West Branch School offer a full-day kindergarten?
Yes, most kindergarteners are enrolled for the full day. Children must be 4 years 7 months old by the first day of school. A visitation and an assessment of readiness are both required.
Are the children divided into classes by grade, as in the public schools?
No, not really. As a rule, children working at Kindergarten through second grade levels meet in one classroom. Children working at grades third through eighth grade levels meet in two other classrooms. The three large groups are frequently subdivided into skill groups and project groups of various sizes depending on curricular need. Important are such factors as reading ability, social and emotional maturity, special interest, and group dynamics. It is also recognized that a single child might be operating at very different skill levels in different subjects or project areas.
How large are the skill groups?
Generally 6-11. (Skill groups are small academically oriented groups.)
Does the school give grades?
Children of fifth grade age and above receive report cards though parents of younger Upstairs children may request them. Special requests are honored at all times.
Then how would I keep track of my child's progress?
Communication between teachers and parents is a cornerstone of West Branch School education. There are three scheduled conferences per year. At the third the teachers discuss the results of your child's national standardized tests. All West Branch students take these tests each year. In addition, teachers or parents can schedule informal conferences at any time. West Branch teachers encourage ongoing communication with parents.
How does the school meet the needs of children ahead of or behind grade level?
Partly by placing them in appropriate groups and partly by individualizing. The school enrolls a very wide range of children, but with its small teacher/student ratio, the school has no need to teach to the middle. The teachers work with each child for three or four years, therefore are familiar with each child's unique learning style. This enhances group placement. Those who need additional tutorial help in reading or math receive it through the Blast Intermediate Unit 17. Also, we have the extra welcomed help from volunteers, teachers' aides, and student interns. Teachers also spend individual time with students during breaks and after school.
What educational resources does the school have?
We have an impressively extensive library, a good selection of educational games, toys math manipulatives, science kits etc. Our computer labs with both Mac and PC platforms grow yearly, and we are connected to the Internet. We have a great selection of software for our students. Students begin using computers in Kindergarten. Keyboarding is taught throughout the school experience.
What role do field trips play?
They are a major part of our hands-on approach to learning. Frequent and varied, they range from local half-day jaunts for the younger children to more extensive, multi-day excursions for the older ones.
How do West Branch graduates handle the transition to public school?
As a result of both formal and informal research carried out by teachers and parents at various times, we can say confidently that, in almost every case, they handle the transition very well. Our graduates tend to be quite prepared with a good academic background, a lot of experience in social problem solving, on-going contact with children of all ages and strong self-esteem. The result is that they usually adapt readily to new situations. They are quite routinely placed in honors classes in the middle schools