The goal of the High School program is to enable students to achieve the skills necessary for college and for life as independent adults, as well as the sense of purpose necessary to make a meaningful contribution to a better world. To achieve this, students need to be given the opportunity to test out their own ability to be independent, and they need to be given a wide range of experiences so that they can discover the things they love to do and start to develop those passions as talents. Instruction at the Post Oak High School serves this adolescent need through key lessons that open doors to new areas of human knowledge, activities that allow for further investigation, discovery, and practice, and diverse opportunities for students to demonstrate learning.
As Montessori practitioners, Post Oak High School teachers understand that the most accurate indicator of the success of the program is the students’ enthusiasm for continuing engagement in the work of learning. Thus self-reflection and the student voice is critical in the process of learning assessment. Assessments serve students by providing them with useful information about their progress in acquiring the skills and understanding they are pursuing. Assessments also provide valuable feedback to teachers to help them calibrate instruction to student needs.
Summative assessments are intended to accurately document student growth over time in a way that is clear and meaningful to students, their parents, and outside institutions such as colleges and universities. Students receive summative assessments from their Post Oak teachers on a regular basis, and these assessments are aggregated and published for families at the end of each semester in the Fall Progress Report and End-of-Year Final Report. These summative assessments consist of an overall grade (see the scale below) and a descriptive evaluation by the teacher for each course. Transcripts are also updated with an overall grade (numerical) for each course.
- 4.5–5.0 Exemplary
- 4.0–4.4 Advanced
- 3.5–4.0 Proficient
- 2.5–3.4 Basic
- 1.5–2.4 Limited
- 0.5–1.4 Minimal
- 0.0–0.4 No Demonstration of Understanding
Marks of 3.5 and above are considered passing.
For High School students, summative assessments may also be produced by external institutions, including The College Board (PSAT, SAT, and ACT), IBO, and others. Scores on standardized tests and course components can provide valuable information on students’ relative strengths and weaknesses in particular areas of knowledge, but it is important to keep in mind that these instruments are not adequate for assessing many areas of student achievement. The areas of achievement and the areas of difficulty noted by the teacher in a student’s semester evaluations offer more complete information about a student’s entire learning experience.
Additionally, at the High School, many transformative learning experiences occur outside of students’ required academic coursework and involve students taking advantage of opportunities for real-world “practicum.” Practicum can include student endeavors as diverse as working as a lab or office intern, museum docent, or research, teaching, or coaching assistant. Practicum can also include more personal projects, such as writing for publication, giving musical or poetry performances, or campaigning to raise awareness on a social issue. What all practicum has in common is potential (1) for growth in the student and (2) to have a positive impact in the world. While practicum is not typically the subject of formal assessment, students should document and reflect upon it, and it may become part of the student’s record of achievement as communicated through resumes, college essays, and letters of recommendation.
Throughout the year, when parents have any questions about their child’s progress, direct communication with students, teachers, and advisor is encouraged.
Academic Support and Remediation
Students do occasionally earn overall grades that are below passing (3.5) in one or more courses. This is usually the result of the student falling behind on work completion. When this occurs, the student will create a plan for catching up with the help of their advisor, and the advisor will monitor the student’s progress in following their plan and getting back to good standing. Students with failing grades are required to attend school for academic support during the conference days in October and March. On these days, they will be provided with a distraction-free environment in which to complete missing work. Likewise, students who finish the year with one or more non-passing grades are required to attend academic remediation sessions at the high school until they have brought all courses for the year into a passing state or, for seniors, have completed all graduation requirements. Academic remediation sessions begin in early June the week after the faculty in-service week and run each weekday from 9 am to 12 pm for up to four weeks. Students must pass all courses from the previous year before they may be enrolled at the next grade level.
High School Graduation Requirements
All students must complete the following requirements in High School to earn a diploma from The Post Oak School.
- English Language Arts & Literature: 4 Credits
- Second Languages: 4 Credits
- Humanities and Social Sciences: 4 Credits
- Natural Sciences: 4 Credits
- Mathematics: 4 Credits
- Arts*: 4 Credits
- Senior Essay: ½ Credit
- Theory of Knowledge: 2 Credits
- Practicum: 4 Years
- J-Term and A-Term Courses: 4 Credits
- Physical Fitness: 2 Credits
*During the semesters of ninth and tenth grades, students take semester-long courses in Theater, Music, Visual Arts, and Design Technology. In eleventh and twelfth grades, students choose an arts area on which to focus for the final two years. Upper level students have an option to substitute a second course in areas 1 to 5 for their IB Arts requirement.
Each year, the seniors elect a member of their class to give a commencement address. The voting is primed with a conversation with the students about the qualities of a Post Oak graduate, a list positively augmented during the conversation by contributions from the seniors themselves. Students cast their votes based on which member of their class they feel best exemplifies those qualities.
IB Diploma Program Requirements
To complete the IB Diploma Program, students must complete coursework and pass exams in these areas. The exams include both internal and external assessments. External assessments include essays, structured problems, short-response items, data-response items, text-response items, case-studies, and limited multiple-choice items. Internal assessments include oral work in languages, laboratory work, investigations, and artistic performances. The final course grades, awarded externally by International Baccalaureate Organization examiners, range from 1 to 7 for each course. Students also earn up to three additional points for their combined work in Theory of Knowledge and Extended Essay. Therefore, the highest possible score for the Diploma is 45 points. Students who gain 24 points, subject to certain minimal levels across the whole program, and complete the Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) requirement will be awarded the IB diploma.
The IB diploma is separate from The Post Oak School diploma. It is possible for a student to meet requirements for The Post Oak diploma and not for the IB diploma. The Post Oak diploma is awarded in late May or early June of the senior year; the IB diploma is awarded in July after the senior year, when the official IB course scores are received by the school.
For more information, please read the Guide to the Upper Level High School Program.