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Middle School FAQ

How does Tefillah work?


Middle School davens together with a minyan, in our Middle School Beit Midrash, for Shacharit and Mincha each day.  We use the Koren siddur created for middle school students. 


Do you have Shabbatons?


Yes! We have two KYMS Student Shabbatonim each year in the Lower Merion community (full Shabbat programs).


What will “homework” look like? 


Please refer to the homework information page on the curriculum tab for more detailed information.  In general, at KYMS we believe strongly in the importance of extending our students’ learning beyond the classroom and in forging a partnership between school and home. We also take seriously our responsibility to prepare our students for the demands of high school.  At the same time, we believe strongly in giving our students time and space to decompress at home and to pursue other interests and hobbies outside of school.  We are also sensitive to the fact that instead of enhancing student learning, certain types of homework can create unnecessary frustration and anxiety for students and their parents.  Therefore, in assigning work to be done at home we strive to strike a balance between expanding and enriching a student’s academic experience on the one hand, and nurturing their social-emotional well being on the other.


How do we manage student behavior to facilitate learning?


We believe that conflict and disruptive behaviors happen as a result of “something.” We work with our students to be reflective -- to understand what that “something” may be, to try and understand the other person's perspective, and to consider alternative responses for the future.  We include parents in this conversation when we feel parents can help by continuing the conversation at home.  This might be at the point we feel it is a repeated behavior and we need to inform parents and implement a specific consequence or collaborate to decide on next steps to help a child work to change his/her behavior.


How is progress defined at KYMS?


We believe in the importance of both growth and achievement.  We therefore measure students in all subject areas - both General and Judaic - on a continuum of skills that spans all grade levels, rather than looking only at grade-specific benchmarks.  Our goal is to ensure that each student, no matter where he/she starts, is constantly being challenged to move forward on their learning journey in a developmentally appropriate fashion.


What is a continuum of skills?


A continuum of skills is similar to benchmarks and standards, as it clearly articulates the learning outcomes we want our students to master.  It differs in that it breaks “grade level” outcomes into the actual skills needed to achieve that standard or benchmark.  It also differs in that it is not organized by “grade level” but by competency statements.  This ensures that students are always given the opportunity to move forward in the learning of new skills and are never “stopped” at the “wall” of a particular grade level. 


How do you track progress without giving grades?


To understand a competency-based model, it is best to compare it with a grades-based way of looking at academic progress.  In a grades-based model, the sum of a student’s accomplishments in a given discipline are averaged into a single number or letter grade.  These grades depend partly on the understanding they have demonstrated on tests, but also can include other factors like in-class participation, assignments handed in, etc. This can blur our ability to pinpoint and communicate what a child really understands and what he or she is really ready to do.


In a competency-based model such as ours at KYMS, however, instead of just getting a “B” in reading or writing, you will see a student’s ability to demonstrate specific skills in reading, like Word Analysis. Areas of student’s social-emotional progress and growth, which are equally important to us, are reported separately from their growth in academic skills.  This information gives an educator and a learner a better plan for continuing their learning and meeting their goals.  Please note that in a competency-based model, once a student demonstrates mastery of a particular set of skills they are moved on to new and more challenging objectives.  Therefore, it is expected that every student will be “Emerging” in some of their newer areas and “Meeting” in others that they’ve been working on for a while.


We also continuously check student achievement against national norms. We use the Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®), an online adaptive assessment tool, throughout the year to help determine each child’s instructional level, to measure academic growth, and to inform individualized instruction in reading and math.. As KYMS is committed to equipping students with the skills necessary to succeed in the ever-changing world of the 21st century, students  also take the College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA) which measures 21st century skills such as critical-thinking, problem solving, scientific and quantitative reasoning, writing, and the ability to critique and make arguments. 


Additionally, teachers begin their units with a pre-assessment so they know where students are beginning in their learning and compare that to their post assessment to see how students grew over the course of the unit.


How do you know if a child is mastering the skills at the rate appropriate for their age and grade?


In General Studies, progress is monitored against Common Core Standard/ Next Generation Science Standard bands of expected performance.  For Ivrit, the milestones are aligned to the standards created by The ACTFL World-Readiness Standards for Learning Language.  For Limudei Kodesh, bands of appropriate progress are set in conjunction with our High School Limudei Kodesh faculty so as to ensure that the trajectory will sufficiently prepare them for high school Torah study.


What happens if they are not mastering skills at a rate appropriate for their age and grade?


When students fall outside of the appropriate growth curve, teachers will confer with their teaching team and with the student’s parents to discuss why that may be and what can be done to remediate.  A plan that likely involves intervention both in school and at home will be collaboratively created with a point person designated in the school to monitor and communicate progress.


How will I be able to monitor my child’s progress?


You can log into our learning management system, Altitude Learning, to check your child’s progress and see the results of the pre and post assessments in any given subject area.  You will get overall reports at parent and student led conferences, and a written report midyear and end of year.  We are always here to check in and will involve you early and proactively in any plan regarding your child’s progress.  If you have questions about your child’s progress, you can reach out to specific teachers who teach that curricular area or any other team members. 


How does my child know how he/she is doing if there are no grades?


At KYMS, one of our guiding principles of learning is that “Self-Awareness Fuels Progress”.  We believe that when students take ownership of their learning, their levels of interest and confidence skyrocket. Learning becomes a fun and engaging process, whether a student is working to address a knowledge gap or seeking out a new challenge. To that end, our educators continuously collect and analyze data on both progress and achievement, share data with students so they can build their capacity for metacognition and self-reflection on where they are in the learning process, and where they need to be.  Goal setting is an important part of this process, where students meet with teachers and set next goals.  Students regularly see their growth through their pre and post assessment performance.  Through this process, students are taught to take responsibility for their own learning, assess their progress, set their own goals, and revise their work and goals accordingly.


How are students leveled (broken into groups or assigned personalized work based on skill mastery) during Skills and Seminar?


During Skills and Seminar students begin with a pre-assessment by their teacher to find out where they currently are on our continuum of skills in each particular subject area.  Then teachers group students with other students who are ready to learn similar skills (are on a similar level) for direct instruction and for collaborative/independent learning.  Teachers instruct and plan learning experiences for that group of students at that level.  Teachers reassess to check for progress and mastery of skills, and students are taught to self-assess and monitor their own progress as well.  This cycle happens every few weeks, ensuring that students are learning in the “just right place,” and that students are both challenged and supported.


What/Who is Altitude Learning?


Altitude Learning  is the company that provides the learning management system used by grades 4-8 at Kohelet.  It provides Kohelet Yeshiva with a platform that teachers use toanage competency-based instruction and personalized learning paths for students.


Is Altitude Learning an online learning program? How much time will my child be on the computer?


Altitude Learning is not online learning. Altitude Learning is a learning management system that allows educators to design and manage student-centered learning experiences. Altitude Learning is meant to empower teachers, not replace them.


The time spent online or on devices will vary from teacher to teacher and lesson to lesson. Altitude Learning helps teachers quickly track and manage a wide variety of learning experiences, the majority of which take place “offline”. This is the unique advantage of Altitude Learning’s platform; it allows teachers to capture and share naturally emergent learning.