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Academics at Cardigan

Academic Program Objectives

Cardigan Mountain School prepares boys for responsible and meaningful lives in a global society. In the academic program, the students are introduced to, and provided opportunities, for the development of the following Habits of Learning:

Growth Mindset  Students will focus on improvement and understand that intelligence can be developed (problem solving, resilience, and open-mindedness).
Self-Awareness Students will manage themselves and reflect on their decisions.
Coexistence Students will peacefully and productively collaborate with others.
Critical Thinking Students will question and analyze information to draw conclusions.
Students will articulate ideas with clarity and precision through a variety of media.
Ownership Students will advocate for themselves and take responsibility for their life and learning.
Creativity Students will explore and imagine.

To promote these Habits of Learning, Cardigan requires all students to enroll in traditional courses of study in English, history, science, mathematics, and a world language or English as a Second Language (ESL). Cardigan also offers a unique academic course called Personalized Education for the Acquisition of Knowledge and Skills (PEAKS®), which is required of all students and aims to help them become better learners and self-advocates. Beyond these courses, the School requires each boy to broaden his horizons and strengthen his scholastic preparation through additional coursework in leadership, music, art, woodworking, theater arts, technology, and the Gates Invention & Innovation Competition program.

Facilitating Academic Growth

Small Classes

Classes range in size from 6 to 16 students; the average class contains 12 students.

Achievement Grouping

The sixth grade is grouped heterogeneously and follows a self-contained classroom model. The seventh grade utilizes several different heterogeneous groupings, based on classroom dynamics, which follow the same course of study. In grades eight and nine, when the academic potential of the students warrants it, the School aims to create homogeneous classes based on ability. The results are typically two levels in each subject, standard—or grade level—and accelerated. In the accelerated sections of each class, more challenging texts are used, assignments are longer and more in-depth, and more emphasis is placed upon independent study and thought. The standard-level sections in each grade spend more time reviewing fundamentals and solidifying skills. Assignments and examinations are designed to challenge but not overwhelm students in all levels. In all grades, mathematics and world language classes are grouped based on ability and prior knowledge.

Flexible Course Assignment and Scheduling

Cardigan provides for the fact that a boy’s ability may vary in different academic disciplines. For example, boys who are struggling in the area of language arts but who are more capable in mathematics may be placed in a standard-level section for English, history, and science, but in a higher level for his mathematics course. It is not uncommon for a boy to be in accelerated levels of some courses and standard levels of others. Progress is evaluated regularly by the director of studies, PEAKS® coaches, and teachers so that a boy may be moved from one level to another to increase the degree of challenge. Alternatively, a boy may also be moved to a more appropriate level if a course is found to be too demanding for that student—to enhance his opportunity for success.

Extra Help, Advisory, and Afternoon Study Hall

Faculty members at Cardigan are noted for their willingness to work with boys needing extra help during afternoon study halls, free time, evening study halls, and unscheduled weekend time. Most teachers live on campus in residence halls, thus affording students further accessibility to such assistance. In addition, the academic schedule includes an advisory and study hall period several days per week, during which students check in with their advisors and start their homework. 

Afternoon study halls are generally scheduled on weekdays. Teachers are available at designated locations during this time to give tutorial help to any boy who needs or requests it. A student may use this time to make up work, get ahead in his studies, or seek individualized attention. Before seeking out a teacher, a student must report to his advisor who oversees and is responsible for his/her advisee’s attendance at this time. A student wishing to see another teacher must inform his advisor of this intention and get a note that enables him to move about campus. If an individual meeting is unnecessary, he will remain with his advisor to study, do homework, or read independently. Over the years, supervised study halls and extra help have proven invaluable to many students in getting the additional attention they need to meet their academic goals.

Grading/Teacher Reports

Cardigan uses a trimester system, and progress reports are produced for each midterm (at which point teachers provide comments indicating a student’s strengths and challenges and a general sense of his current achievement and effort in the class thus far) and at the end of each term (when grades are formally reported). Grading includes both achievement (i.e., letter grade) marks and a separate effort grade employed to encourage all boys to work toward their potential. 

Grading Scales

Grading Scales: Students are graded according to the following scale: A (94–100), A- (90–93), B+ (87–89), B (84–86), B- (80–83), C+ (77–79), C (74–76), C- (70–73), D+ (67–69), D (64–66), D- (60–63), and F (below 60). In addition to letter grades for performance, students receive grades for effort on a 5 through 1 scale: 5—excellent, 4—good, 3—average, 2—needs improvement, and 1—unsatisfactory. Unsatisfactory academic achievement or effort may result in mandatory attendance at Supervised Study Hall or loss of off-campus trip opportunities and other privileges until improvement is noted.

Honor Roll

The honor roll system is designed to recognize students for both achievement and effort. Privileges are extended to those making the honor roll and/or effort honor roll at the end of each term. 

Achievement Honor Roll: If a student achieves an overall average of 90% (a 3.6 GPA on 4-point scale) or higher in his courses, with no grade lower than a B-, he has attained achievement honor roll.

Effort Honor Roll: If a student earns 5’s and 4’s in effort in all courses, he attains the effort honor roll. A 2 or 1 effort grade in any course renders a student automatically ineligible to make either category of honor roll.

An honor roll student enjoys the following privileges:

  • Use of the evening study hall in a classroom or in the honor roll student’s own room, use of The Haven (student center), or use of the fitness center and gym, with faculty supervision and permission. 
  • Ability to study in the library during evening study hall, with the permission of both the dorm parent on duty and the evening library supervisor.
  • Special honor roll dinners and events.

All honor roll privileges are afforded at the discretion of the student’s advisor, the director of student life, and the director of studies.