A School Without Grades

By: Alex Denis Email
By: Alex Denis Email

Grades and report cards are just an everyday part of going to school.

Or are they?

A private school called the compass rose academy will open in the market shops at Sandestin this fall.

The school's no-grade policy is just one part of its non-traditional teaching approach.

This home school class models what a day at compass rose academy will look like.

Teachers give pre-K through 5th grade students the freedom to use their surroundings to help them learn.

This approach combines several well-known teaching methods like Montessori, a hands-on method, with a more structured approach known as A Beka.

Director Sherry Hartley says, “We do screen our kids so we know how they learn and how they learn the easiest and then we create individualized curriculum for them so that they can easily achieve mastery of the subject matter that we're looking at.”

With a student teacher ratio of 8 to 1, teachers believe no student is left behind.

Instructors say the relaxed setting gives them time to focus on each student's advancement.

Instructor Christine Buscarello says, “If they're not grasping it right away, it's instantly changed. However we're teaching them is changed so they can learn in better.”

“Students don't receive a letter grade, but that doesn't mean they're not graded. Each student has a portfolio book that shows their progression of learning."

Educational Facilitator Debra Betz says, “The benefit to that is, not only will we not hold a child back, we'll give them the opportunity and the tools they need to grasp each concept before they move on.”

Curriculum must meet sunshine state standards, but students won't take the state-wide standardized test, FCAT.

Instead, they'll be tested on a national scale.

Enrichment curriculum will include music, art, foreign languages, drama and community-learning projects.

One student says this type of learning is the way to go.

Student Duce Harbour says, “Because it's fun not having to sit behind a desk and read books.”

If you'd like more information about compass rose academy, the next parent meeting will be held February 25th at 6:00 p.m. at the Coastal Branch Library on U.S. Highway 331.

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