Each year, students review their record and their progress toward graduation with several members of staff. Together they examine the student's strengths and weaknesses in order to plan an appropriate course and proficiency schedule leading to a graduation date.
What about the New York State Regents Examinations? We are fighting the implementation of these exams. We invite you to learn why.
Urban Academy believes an educated person is one who is able to reach informed judgments in a wide range of subjects. We also believe that a spread of courses will deepen the students' understanding of topics which already interest them as well as expose them to new ideas, issues and information. Therefore, students register for a spread of courses and are expected to pass each course every semester in order to graduate. Students who do this will have some flexibility and choice in planning their senior year. Special programming options such as internships, first choice classes, independent research periods and college courses are possible.
Students who fail courses during their early semesters at Urban Academy will have less choice in planning their senior year. They will need to make up subject area work to fulfill a balanced spread of courses and prepare for proficiency level work. Students who fail too many courses will have to postpone their graduation date.
The proficiencies are projects - such as papers, exhibits, presentations and experiments - that allow students to demonstrate their ability to use the skills they have developed in their courses. Successful completion of these projects leads to an Urban Academy diploma. Proficiencies ensure that Urban Academy graduates are well educated, have successfully demonstrated aspects of what they know, and have achieved a depth of academic experience during their high school career. They require persistence as well as competence. The six academic proficiencies - Creative Arts, Criticism, Literature, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science - build on students' successful participation in a wide range of courses. These proficiencies all require work over an extended period of time, sometimes a year or more.
Relationship Between Proficiencies and Courses
The skills developed in courses are cumulative, leading to the successful completion of proficiencies. For example, students may take Horticulture, Mechanics, and Chemistry in different semesters. In each course they will be expected to work on research design, ask good questions, test hypotheses, write up observations and look into what others in the field have done. If they do the assignments, ultimately, they should reach a level that permits them to meet proficiency standards as part of their normal course work.
The same is true in the arts. Students should find that courses such as Photography, Sculpture, Poetry, Painting and Acting, help to develop critical abilities and the ability to express ideas in forms other then analytic writing. Ultimately, as in other subject areas, students will find that the body of work they develop over time will meet proficiency standards.
In the areas mentioned above, as well as in other areas not covered, the courses students choose may not immediately satisfy a specific proficiency. Rather, the sum total of courses is designed to help develop academic skills and to prepare students for the proficiencies.
It is important to understand that passing a proficiency is not the same as passing a course. Students might well pass a course that required an analytic essay, receive a good grade, yet find that the essay does not qualify for a successfully completed proficiency. This may be the case because the student was writing this kind of paper for the first or second time. Though the students demonstrated improvement, there is more that the student must learn in order to be proficient. Grades reflect effort and progress as well as good scholarship. Proficiencies indicate that students have attained a high level of academic achievement. The two are not necessarily the same.