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Why don’t we teach to Advanced Placement or other standardized tests?
Our goal is to teach students how to define good questions, how to research and analyze, and how to present their thinking in coherent and compelling ways. None of this can be measured by standardized tests such as the APs, which are necessarily designed to teach students how to answer finite questions which others have posed. Putney has never had an AP curriculum, and we are now being joined by many of the top schools in the country. It is clear to us that colleges understand our program, because our students do well in today’s competitive college process. You can learn more about this educational movement at the website of the Independent Curriculum Group.
Academic Vigor at The Putney School
Putney's vigorous academic program stimulates independent thinking and a love of learning that goes far beyond the classroom. Classes are small and engaging. Friendly first-name relationships between students and teachers contribute to an atmosphere of mutual respect in which students learn to take themselves and their ideas seriously.
Critical thinking and scientific problem solving are prized. Students learn to speak their minds, to form well-reasoned opinions and to defend them. Putney students are encouraged to be voracious readers and prolific writers.
Graduation requirements include four years of English, three years each of math, laboratory science and a modern language, two and a half years of history, one year of academic art and evening arts electives each semester, as well as four independent projects a year. Most students elect to take more classes than are required. The school's unusual grading system helps encourage learning for its own sake. Students receive extensive personal comments on papers and tests. Students and parents receive progress reports from each teacher as least twice each semester and an overall evaluation from the student's advisor twice a year. Letter grades and effort marks are reported internally. Any grade below C is reported to parents, otherwise students and parents see only narrative comments until junior year, when college counseling begins.
Life at Putney is structured such that students spend almost every waking hour involved in learning of one kind or another. Teachers are on hand day and night to offer help and inspire intellectual excitement. Everyone keeps nightly study hours. Supervised study halls, tutoring and a special study skills program help ensure that nobody falls through the cracks. An English as a Second Language program helps non-native speakers adapt to the school's academic demands.
Students at Putney have access to a computer lab that opens early and closes late, an extensive library that has desktop computers for student use, plus strategically located laptop carts for students who wish to take advantage of the wireless network to complete and submit their homework. The school's music, art and dance studios are among the finest at any secondary school in the country.
"At Putney learning occurs through teamwork and individual achievement." ~ Victor Lewis ‘73