Essential Understandings

The Essential Understanding Goals are the heart of the academic requirements at Tremont.  They ensure appropriate breadth and depth within the interdisciplinary courses, which they underpin.  Each course in the Tremont Upper School is built around Essential Understanding Goals within the eight academic domains. (Literacy, Mathematics, Science, Technology, and Engineering, Humanities, Creative Arts and Design, World Languages, Communication and Applied Sociology, Health and Wellness). In addition, to traditional academic domains, we embrace effective communication as an academic domain unto itself and have added design thinking to the more traditional creative arts.  Not only are these central to the mission of the Tremont School, we also believe that it is essential to success in the schools and workplaces of the future.

Each semester long course is built around 5-7 Essential Understanding Goals drawn from several different academic domains, addressing both the content of focus and the skills to be developed.  This allows for a balance of interdisciplinary integration and depth within a specific domain.  Students is enrolled in at least two courses at a time, chosen in consultation with their advisor.  Each course concludes with a culminating course project and a course reflection, focused on articulating student progress on the Essential Understanding Goals and on the Competencies during the course.  These projects and reflections become the primary work collected in a student’s portfolio.  Teachers assess their growth in each of these areas and decide with the student and advisor whether they need more work to demonstrate competence on an Essential Understanding Goal or Competency.

Students are assessed throughout the arc of a course primarily through their everyday work and projects but also through tests and quizzes. At the end of each semester, teachers report out on what level of competence (Beginning, Progressing, or Competent) each student has demonstrated the Essential Understanding Goals for the course. Students are required to demonstrate competence on all Essential Understanding Goals in order to graduate.

Each course includes:

  • 5-7 Essential Understanding Goals
  • 1-2 Competencies – defined by the teacher and later by students
  • A primary teacher and 1-2 secondary teachers
  • A culminating course project
  • A course reflection
  • A Celebration of Learning
  • External partner/s for projects