Grades 5 through 8
Our middle school seeks to meet the educational and emotional needs of early adolescent students who are experiencing rapid physical, intellectual and social growth. While continuing to take into account different levels of maturity, students are expected to take increasing responsibility for their work. Middle school fosters successful study habits, academic growth and individual creativity within a framework of choice and self-discipline. It also affords various opportunities for social development while encouraging social responsibility, community activism and service to others.
After graduating from the Friends School, our students have gone on to all types of high schools—independent, public and boarding—and have a record of academic and social success in these environments as well as an ongoing commitment to community service and activism. We are proud that our students continue to set personal goals and leadership standards informed by their experiences at the Friends School.
A handbook of the curriculum will always be a "work in progress," a phrase that describes many aspects of schools with dynamic vision. We invite your comments so we can continue to provide a clear and useful guide.
The curriculum at The Friends School of Atlanta is guided by the Mission Statement, which embodies Friends values (testimonies), and by developmentally appropriate practice. We believe that in educating children we are guiding them toward an awareness and appreciation of their own uniqueness. For this reason, our curriculum is concerned with all aspects of human development: intellectual, moral, aesthetic, physical, social and emotional. The process by which children learn is as important to us as what they learn.
Academic excellence is the ultimate goal, as we help each child discover the full range of her or his abilities. Teaching new ideas and skills helps us attain that goal by providing connections between the child's present interests and abilities, his or her innate capacities and potential knowledge and understanding. We want our students to appreciate that knowledge and understanding open countless possibilities for their lives. In the words of William Damon, now at Stanford University School of Education, and nationally renowned thinker on the moral development of children:
Children do best—intellectually, personally, morally—when they are striving for excellence. Any activity that encourages children to strive for excellence will enhance their motivation to learn, and any instruction that shows them how to achieve excellence will advance their competence. Children are inspired, not stressed, when faced with challenging tasks. They crave the chance to achieve something meaningful.
Middle School Homework Program
Middle school students are able, as part of the Aftercare program, to do their homework in a designated location on the third floor with the support and supervision of a middle school teacher. Four days a week (Monday through Thursday) students begin homework after a short snack. When their work is complete, they join other Aftercare activities. Regular Aftercare charges apply; see the Admissions page, under "Tuition."
Student evaluation, both formative and summative, occurs daily at the Friends School and takes many forms including thoughtful observation and interaction with each student. Students in middle school are assessed as they complete projects or experiments, produce written texts or portfolios and complete quizzes and tests. They receive a combination of grades and rubric assessments. Students are sometimes asked to engage in self-assessment in which they evaluate their own performance with respect to specified criteria. During the year, student progress is shared with parents in several ways: September goal-setting conferences; student portfolios; marked assignments and projects; narrative, descriptive and quantitative evaluations that define how well a student has met curriculum expectations; and academic reports. Several middle school teachers, especially language arts teachers, maintain portfolios of student work. These portfolios remain in the classroom but can be accessed by parents at any time. Teachers are available to speak with parents in conference about student progress and to discuss work samples or portfolios. Parents should contact either the student's advisor or subject-area teacher with whom they wish to consult.
In keeping with the Quaker value of equality, we do not promote that which would set students against each other. Instead, our evaluation methods reflect the achievements and areas of growth for each student as an individual. Evaluations are used to show how much a student has learned in relation to her or his own goals without comparison to others. Although we do not require standardized testing, as a service to parents we offer optional standardized testing twice a year in the fall and spring. Test-taking skills instruction is part of our middle school curriculum and we are often able to make available an SSAT preparation course outside of school.
Historically, our students have performed well on standardized tests and transitioned successfully into a variety of educational environments. Alumni are now excelling at public high schools in the Atlanta area, as well as at highly competitive independent schools. . In 2002, some of our first graduates began college at Yale, Haverford and other highly selective colleges. Since then, FSA students have been accepted into a wide variety of colleges and universities.