In January, Mount St. Mary Academy announced some exciting academic updates. At the start of the 2019-20 school year, we will be implementing changes that will better reflect our mission and more effectively achieve the expectations of higher education and our students’ future employers.

Specifically, we are redesigning our academic programs in a very dynamic way. Classroom experiences will be more experiential and offer students more authentic and rigorous real-world assessments. To make this possible, over the next two school years we will be eliminating New York State Regents exams as our final assessment tool.

Research tells us that student learning is not best measured by one high-stakes test at the end of the academic year. Rather, 21st Century skills are demonstrated by students who can effectively produce capstone projects, group projects, written reports, and other forms of summative assessment. These are the skills – communicating, collaborating, problem-solving, researching, working as a team and more – that our students need to develop in order to be successful in college and in future employment. This does not mean that students at Mount St. Mary will not take any traditional paper and pen exams, as we know tests are an important means of assessing learning and that students will take exams in college. It does mean that, moving forward, our students will not be presented with class material in a setting that has a year-end Regents exam as its focus. It will allow our talented, dedicated educators to dig deeper in their teaching of material, harness the excitement of student-focused learning, and create dynamic classrooms all year long where learning is not limited by preparation for one final exam.

When school begins in September 2019, all Mount St. Mary students will benefit from a variety of very visible academic program enhancements. Three new academic centers — STEAM, Humanities, and Languages – will be in place to foster robust, interdisciplinary collaboration. They will enjoy a new Makerspace, where they will experience interactive learning that blends technology and creativity. Our daily schedule will be adapted to include an intentional pause in our school day to help foster relationship-building and well-being among the members of our school community. And all of us will be active participants in Service and Justice Week, which will bring our Catholic teachings to life in the form of experiential learning designed to emphasize diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our focus for all students will be on providing a wholistic, cross-curricular education that emphasizes wellness in all areas and that challenges our students to achieve their personal best.

Click here to download a copy of our profile of a Mount St. Mary graduate to give you a sense of some of the specific qualities we seek to instill in our students over their four years.

In planning for this new academic focus, Mount St. Mary teachers and administrators have been working and researching to create a program that reflects both our mission and the skills we know are necessary for our students to develop. We have had positive experiences at Mount St. Mary with longstanding academic initiatives, such as our award-winning entrepreneurship curriculum, STEAM program, and Foundations of Learning courses, that have given us valuable experience with alternative assessments and hands-on learning. Our young alumnae, who are now in college and graduate school, have told us that these are the experiences that have benefited them most, and they have encouraged us to broaden these opportunities to more students across the core subject areas. Additionally, we have talked with representatives from nearly four dozen colleges and universities across the country, who tell us clearly that taking the New York State Regents exams is not a factor they deem important for the candidates for admission they consider.

The future of Mount St. Mary Academy is bright, and the faculty, staff, and administrators look forward providing the best, most personalized educational experiences possible for our students. We are excited to keep you informed about all the wonderful enhancements to the school.

Click here to read the news release about our New Academic Vision.