We follow a semester-based calendar with year-long courses (except Art and 9th Grade Earth Science which are a half-credit offered during the fall/spring or winter term). To earn credit in any given subject, students must complete the course requirements for each term of instruction. The two terms for 2016-17 are as follows:
First semester: Aug. 01 – Jan. 06
Second semester: Jan. 9 – June 2
We expect the “heavy lifting” in the academic program to occur during the fall and spring, when the typical class meets four times per week for 50-minute periods and homework assignments require 30-40 minutes of preparation per class each night. The winter schedule reduces class meetings to three per week and does not increase the homework load to make up for the less frequent meetings. Our objective during the winter is to maintain continuity in the academic program within realistic expectations.
After a thorough review of each entering student’s previous coursework and transcript, they are placed into appropriate courses by our Director of Academics. Any departures from the standard curriculum below, designed to meet all necessary graduation requirements as well as prepare our students for admission to the nation’s most highly-selective universities, including acceleration and/or changes in course load, must be approved by the Director of Academics.
Our average class size of 12 and boarding school environment provide ample opportunities for tutorial sessions and individual attention. Our sizing to quality also affords room for student enrichment, often beyond the bounds of our regular curriculum, based on student interests, abilities, and accelerated preparation. If a student exceeds our core curriculum, two senior year elective courses are offered and vary from year to year.
Since its founding, BMA has embraced a narrative evaluation system that stresses intrinsic motivation and the value of personal academic growth. Teachers write course evaluations for each student at the end of each semester. The evaluation summarizes the oral and written feedback shared with the student throughout the semester. Specific attention is given to analytical ability, written and oral expression, and feedback from a variety of assessments. In addition, each student is given feedback on personal responsibility, their involvement in the learning community, self-awareness, personal drive, and intellectual curiosity.
We feel these evaluations are far more meaningful than grades and consequently more informative for our students, their parents, and in the college admissions process.
Student-athletes who join us for the 8th grade Winter Term Program (mid-November through late March) typically withdraw from their home schools and are placed under the instruction of the BMA teaching faculty. Our objective is to facilitate a seamless transition back to each home school in the spring. At the end of the winter term, BMA provides a transcript that details semester credits for academic work completed in each subject.
The winter term academic core curriculum consists of English, social studies, mathematics, science, and French. Students take these courses together in a classroom setting that also provides time for individualized instruction. Any additional coursework required from sending schools or compulsory state testing should be addressed in the planning stages of the student’s admission to Burke. Beginning in the 9th grade, students enrolled at BMA must take all coursework within our outlined curriculum.