FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
• How is student progress assessed?
One of the benefits of our smaller class sizes is that Blue Rock teachers have the opportunity to work closely with each student and assess them regularly through observation, one-on-one conferencing, and review of their classwork and homework. These assessments inform instruction, and students are given individualized goals, work and direction. Teachers notice how the students learn: how they arrive at an answer (not just the answer itself), articulate their ideas, choose to pursue an interest, how they work through set-backs, challenges and frustrations, and how they function with others in the classroom. Our teachers make notes of their observations, reflect on them, consider the general expected skillsets for each grade, and prepare two written evaluations each school year that are shared with parents, in addition to the three parent/teacher conferences.
• Do they receive grades?
Instead of grades, teachers prepare a semi-annual report, which includes both descriptive evaluations and an assessment of skills in rubric form, that is sent out to parents. Teachers also retain a small portfolio of each student’s work and projects throughout the year to share with parents. Student Assessment & Evaluation
• How do you motivate the students if they receive no grades?
Students learn for the love of discovery and for interest’s sake, instead of the external motivation of a grade or a test score. They find a deeper connection with their classroom work through our hands-on, project-based curriculum, which affords them deadlines and clear goals to work toward. Bringing in real life experiences and weaving ideas from the students into classroom work keeps them engaged in their learning.
• Do students receive standardized tests at Blue Rock School?
Blue Rock School does not administer the NYS standardizes tests. As a private school, we are not required to follow the Common Core test schedule. We do, however, prepare our 8th grade students for the Algebra I Regents exam, and of those who are tested, most score well above average.
• If Blue Rock students don’t get tested, how do they fare when they move on to a school which uses testing as a primary tool for evaluation?
Although we do not use testing as a tool for evaluation during elementary and middle school, in the latter part of Blue Rock’s eighth grade year, our teachers do expose students to basic test-taking skills, and in math, they give the students quizzes and Algebra I Regents practice exams. Many of our eighth graders find a certain excitement in trying something new and enter high school without feeling burnt out from years of testing.
• If my child is ahead of grade level in certain subjects at their current school, how would they be served at Blue Rock School?
We offer a teaching philosophy, which is not a “one-size-fits-all”. In our smaller classes, children have the opportunity to work at different paces and at different levels within the benchmarks of the curriculum for each grade. Teachers recognize the strengths in each student, as well as their areas of challenge, and gauge their expectations based on what the students are capable of while requiring that they make efforts and continue to grow. There are times of differentiation in the daily classwork, which not only motivates and excites advanced learners, but also offers help for those who need more time and support.
• How do Blue Rock School graduates manage when entering a traditional high school?
Our students leave Blue Rock with a strong sense of self, a curious mind and the skills to actively engage in school, both socially and academically. They demonstrate a heightened capacity for creative thinking and are typically very self-motivated. Blue Rock students meet the new challenges that high school brings with excitement, focus and interest, and tend to connect with their peers and their teachers in a meaningful way. Academically, we have many alumni who consistently make the honor roll, high honor roll, and the principal’s list, and some have even attained AP Scholar status.
• What high schools do Blue Rock students attend
Over the years, our graduates have gone on to both public and private schools. We have had students in many local public schools in Rockland, as well as some in Westchester, NYC and NJ. We have also had graduates attend many of the area private schools, including Dwight Englewood, Green Meadow School, The Masters School, Nightingale-Bamford, Saddle River Day School, Rockland Country Day School, Hackley, and many more. Blue Rock students have been accepted into some of the most prestigious public schools in NYC, such as High School of American Studies at Lehman College, Bronx High School of Science, Professional Performing Arts School and the Kaufman Center Special Music High School.
• Is Blue Rock School a good setting for students with special needs?
We are not equipped with a resource room or special education services at our school, thus are not able to support most students with special needs. Many of the lessons throughout the grades at Blue Rock School require both group and independent classroom work. Therefore, students with a strong work ethic and the ability to collaborate with others thrive at Blue Rock School. It is our experience that children who have difficulty with attention/hyperactivity, those who are challenged with significant social or language processing difficulties, and others who rely on repetitive and explicit teacher direction may find our program too challenging.
• How are Blue Rock teachers chosen? What is their background?
Blue Rock teachers come to us with not only a background in education, but an understanding of progressive, experiential, project-based teaching methods and are deep, thoughtful, introspective individuals, who are interested in a school setting that embodies both an academic and social learning model. They all hold Masters or advanced degrees, some from progressive teaching colleges such as Sarah Lawrence and Bank Street, and others come from more traditional universities. They bring with them their rich life experiences and a love of working with children.
• Why does Blue Rock School have a Media Recommendation for its families?
Blue Rock’s teaching philosophy encourages children to actively and thoughtfully participate in their studies, bringing their own unique ideas and interests, and wishes to offer them a safe place where childhood is preserved and pop culture is less invasive. With minimal exposure to the influences of the media and commercials, our students are able to access their own imagination, to bring a deeper focus and attention to their work in the classroom, and we find their their feelings about themselves and others around them are less hampered by materialistic and accelerated expectations. Blue Rock School intentionally leaves screens out of the classrooms, as we embrace a more collegiate, discussion-based, project-driven, 3-dimensional method of education. To read Blue Rock’s Media Recommendation, <a href="#">click here</a>.
• How do the Blue Rock students adapt to a world so reliant on technology?
Blue Rock students do use the internet as a research tool for some parts of their homework in middle school, so as they transition into high school, they have had exposure to screen use for school work.
Technology is changing so quickly that any computer instruction will most likely be obsolete when our students move into the working world. At Blue Rock, our students learn to use their reasoning, deduction and creative thinking/problem solving skills to take on any new lessons or tasks asked of them. Because of this, our graduates easily learn to use technology in high school and college. We have had families over the years with parents who work in the computer industry who have been fully supportive of Blue Rock’s style of education and limit on media during the school week, given their awareness of the negative impact of excessive screen time on children’s development.