The school year has begun in earnest with the students back on campus and participating in all aspects of life at MPA. We’ve had the first kabaddi practices, mandatory sports times, Sunday gurdwara and of course orientation to and the start of the academic year.
There are a lot of exciting changes to the academic department this year. Chief among them is a new program called Personalized Learning Time where each morning the students are given 45 minutes to devote to a skill of their choosing. This program marks a new direction for MPA that encourages students to take a leadership role in their learning while recognizing that they need time to master the things that are important to them. Stories of how the students are using this time will be featured in the upcoming newsletter. You can subscribe to our newsletter on our website at the bottom of the page.
Instead of monthly tests, the students will participate in performance assessments at the end of each unit where they are able to apply the content of what they’ve learned throughout the unit. There will still be exams held at the end of each semester in December and May. The change in learning assessment is designed to encourage deep understanding, rather than memorization.
Other additions include a new course for all students entitled Global Perspectives designed to deepen their knowledge and understanding of world events, cultures, norms and their role in an ever globalized world; lockers for the senior students; and a new classroom structure for younger students – grades 5 to 8 – where they stay in one classroom while the teachers come to them.
Continuing from last year, those students for whom English is not their first language have been placed in the WIDA program so that we can identify their current English language capacity and place them in a specialized program to facilitate their learning. We currently have students from 20 different countries – Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tibet, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. For many of these students, English is not their primary language and specialized English language programs are essential to their success at MPA.
Finally, in order for our teachers to continue to adjust the curriculum and teaching methods to meet the needs of our students, we’re partnering with NWEA, a non-profit organization in the US that specializes in personalized assessment testing, to administer MAP Growth tests twice yearly. These assessment will give us detailed and accurate information on our students’ skills and help inform our academic program and strategy.