Academics

Placement

Classroom placement decisions involve creating a balance of boys and girls, energy levels, and diverse academic and social abilities. Placement is a professional decision made by the FSM staff based on the academic and social good of all students involved.

Homework Policy

Homework helps students develop individual study habits and serves as a bridge between home and school, allowing parents to be involved in their child’s academic growth.

The amount of homework will fit within these guidelines:

Grade Time Spent on Homework* Frequency
Kindergarten 5 minutes per day 1 - 2 times per week
Grades 1-2 10-20 minutes per day 2 - 3 times per week
Grades 3-4 20-30 minutes per day 3 - 4 times per week
Grades 5-6 1 hour per day Subjects will vary each day
Grades 7-8 1.5-2 hours per day Subjects will vary each day
*Students should complete thirty minutes of being read to or quiet reading. Teachers will communicate homework assignments to families/guardians at the end of the school day.

Assessment As a Reflection of Our Understanding of the Whole Child

Our core commitment is to know and understand each student as a whole person, as well as a learner. Because of that we use portfolios, performances, tests, observation, written work, self-assessment, and reflection to assess student achievement. Twice each year, teachers write assessments of the whole child across academic, social, physical and emotional dimensions. These assessments are shared personally in formal conferences twice each year.

Lower School (K-4) Reports

FSM uses narrative reports at the end of each semester to communicate students’ progress to their families/guardians. 

Middle School (5-8) Reports, Benchmarks and Progress Reports

Students will receive narrative reports at the end of each semester. Along with narrative reports, 5th and 6th graders will receive benchmark progress reports for Humanities, Math, Science and Spanish. 7th and 8th grade students will receive letter grade reports for Math, Science and Spanish and a benchmark progress report for Humanities.

Benchmark progress reports are based on student work, including but not limited to: written assignments, projects, unit tests, small and large group discussions, group work, student self-assessments and reflections, and informal observations and conversations with students.

The collected work is used to measure each student’s proficiency and progress in particular skills and content knowledge. Teachers use rubrics for assignments that include specific learning targets or “I can” statements, that correlate to our benchmarks. This allows students to know and understand what skills or content they are or are not proficient in.

Subject 5th-6th 7th-8th
Math Benchmark Report Grades
Science Benchmark Report Grades
Spanish Benchmark Report Grades
Humanities Benchmark Report Benchmark Report

Middle School Grading Scale

Description Percentage Grade
Superior in initiative, original and thorough
100 – 99 A+
98 – 93 A
90 – 92 A-
Highly competent, clear, and concise
89 – 87 B+
86 – 83 B
82 – 80 B-
Satisfactory in meeting basic requirements
79 -77 C+
76 – 73 C
72 – 70 C-
Unsatisfactory. Barely meets requirements.
69 – 67 D+
66 – 63 D
62 – 60 D-
Unsatisfactory. Requirements not met. Below 60 F

Students who have year-end grades with two or more failing grades will be asked to leave FSM unless a faculty member can provide evidence of the student’s readiness for the next grade level.

Teachers collect student work, including but not limited to: written assignments, projects, unit tests, small and large group discussions, group work, student self-assessments and reflections, informal observations and conversations with students.

The collected work is used to measure each student’s proficiency and progress in particular skills and content knowledge. Teachers use rubrics for assignments that include specific learning targets or “I can” statements that correlate to our benchmarks. This allows students to know and understand what skills or content they are or are not proficient in.

Vocabulary

  • Benchmark:  A benchmark is a long-term learning objective for students, which clearly states what students should be able to know and do by the end of a particular grade level.
  • Rubric:   A rubric delineates the expectations for skills and content of a particular assignment and is used to assess how well a student has met those expectations on that assignment.
  • Learning Target:  A learning target is a short-term goal or objective of what the student should know or be able to do at the end of a lesson or assignment.

Benchmark Key

Assessment Mark Description
E Exceeds expectations
  • Exhibits deep knowledge and understanding of the skill and/or concept.
  • Can apply this knowledge in a variety of settings.
M Meets expectations
  • Shows a thorough knowledge, understanding and application of the skill and/or concept
P Progressing towards meeting expectations
  • Gaining an understanding of the skill and/or concept.
  • Needs to consistently demonstrate the learning independently.
  •  
S Not yet progressing towards meeting expectations
  • Starting to understand the skill and/or concept.
  • Needs consistent support.
0 Assignment(s) addressing this benchmark are not complete enough to assess progress.
X or blank Benchmark not assessed

Middle School Quality Standards

Middle School use the following descriptors to assess the quality of student work:  

  • Content: Work must meet the requirements of the assignment and all parts of the assignment must be completed.
  • Mechanics: All work should use appropriate sentence structures and follow the conventions of spelling, capitalization and punctuation.
  • Appearance: All work submitted should have the student’s name on it and should be properly labeled.  Work should be easily readable and paper should be in good condition. In grades 7 and 8, all final drafts must be typed.
  • On Time: Teachers will announcement a class policy on late work at the beginning of the year and will help students by regularly making sure the students’ homework planners are accurate.

Work that does not meet the quality standards will be returned to the students to be recompleted.

Additional Academic Support

Parents of incoming students or students newly identified with learning differences will be invited to meet regarding their student’s Learning Support Plan within the first six weeks of school. The purpose of this meeting is as follows:

  • To review agreed on accommodations and modifications and ensure that the channels of communication are clear.
  • To draft a Learning Support Plan that will be shared with parents/guardians. Assistant head of school, teachers, and teaching assistants will be invited to attend these meetings. The plan is placed in the student’s file and shared with all teachers involved with the student.

FSM offers limited support services for students with mild diagnosed learning differences. In consultation with families/guardians, we can provide a variety of limited accommodations and will consider slight modifications to course requirements on a case-to-case basis.

  • Students who qualify may have the option of pursuing support services through the Saint Paul public schools.
  • Middle School students can also work with teachers in small groups after school in our Homework Help Program.

Standardized Testing

Students in grades 6-8 take the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) achievement and aptitude tests (CTP IV) each year. Standardized tests are given to middle school students to achieve these outcomes:

  • Provide FSM with an additional tool to evaluate our programs 
  • Enable students to improve their test taking skills
  • Help FSM assess individual student achievement.

Gandhi Library

Lower School Library Program

Students from kindergarten through fourth grade may make weekly group visits to the library. After third grade students also use the library individually or in groups as needed to choose books related to classwork, to find books for recreational reading or to do research.

The number of materials that students may check out varies by grade level.

  • Kindergarten students may check out one book per week before winter break, and two books per week afterwards. The second book is a book to take home.
  • First through Fourth grade students may check out up to four books for reading and up to six additional books for research.
  • Middle school students may check out up to eight books. Additional materials may be checked out with special permission from a staff member.

Overdue Materials

Library materials can be checked out for two weeks. Students and families will be notified of any overdue materials. If a book is not returned by the end of the year, families/guardians will be charged to replace it plus a service change.

Birthday Books

FSM encourages families/guardians to purchase materials for the Gandhi Library through our Birthday Books program. Books that are purchased in honor of a student’s birthday have a bookplate added to commemorate the gift.