Advancing Academics at WCA
Bringing Everything Into Alignment
Our overall goal is to make sure Westminster's subject offerings are not only superior but that each subject is aligned in such a way that a student moving through the grade levels at WCA will benefit from coordinated and appropriate instruction that will lead him successfully to the next steps.
Students at Westminster read great literature. From our lower grade levels throughout their high school career, English, literature, and grammar are taught progressively through the classics.
- Build a solid grammar focus at the elementary level (use of Shurley Grammar)
- Start at the earliest grade levels with the best books (even read-alouds)
- Transition at the upper-grade levels to focus less on grammar and more on literature and writing. This allows for students to participate in college-like discussions that are challenging and interesting.
- Summer Reading are the same books for each class (purposefully chosen to guide students into the next school year) but will be limited in number (generally two). The assignments for the books are posted online so there is no need to come to the library for a test. However, we have great options for you in our libraries so please do not be a stranger. Specific details will be announced and posted soon.
- We have not forgotten about writing! Our goal for WCA students is to TEACH writing as opposed to merely assign writing. To that end, we are thrilled at the training our teachers are already receiving from the Institute for Excellence in Writing preparing them for the 2019-2020 school year and beyond. IEW not only provides the models and structure to lead students to better writing, but does it in a cumulative way (adding knowledge on top of knowledge from year to year) so that our end-goal is achieved – preparing our elementary students with the writing skills they need that can then be honed at the upper school level so that we produce students that can then communicate well in written form the great ideas they learn and discuss at Westminster.
- The history sequence from K-12 is more suitably aligned.
- Your student's education in history (and literature and math, etc.) will not look the same as other local schools. They will have more, different, and better knowledge to apply to life.
- Grades 1-5 use the Bob Jones history text but does so in an abbreviated format so that we can add a chronological look at all of history (Veritas History Cards and songs). This will better prepare students for the next level of study in history, but will also give them a better context for the understanding of literature and the Scripture.
- The upper school history sequence gives our students a transcript that looks different and actually is better than others in the area (while still qualifying for TOPS).
- Grade 1 – Creation to the end of the Egyptian Empire
- Grade 2 – Greeks and the Romans
- Grade 3 – Maps and Geography skills
- Grade 4 – American History/Louisiana History
- Grade 5 – Ancient Civilizations
- Grade 6 - World Studies
- Grade 7 - American History with Louisiana History
- Grade 8 – Western Civilization I
- Grade 9 – Western Civilization II
- Grade 10 – Civics (now with a better understanding of Founding Principles from grades 7-8-9)
- Grade 11 – U.S. History (This is an incredibly rich course given the four years that precedes it.)
- Grade 12 – World History (Now it can be taught more like a college-level seminar/discussion class instead of a fast introduction to all of the history of the world.)
- Geography will be placed into all levels of learning in context rather than a separate subject
As students at Westminster progress into their high school years, we want them to have more flexibility, greater opportunities, score higher on the ACT and be ahead of their counterparts at other local schools. To accomplish these goals in mathematics our goal is to prepare students to be ready to take Algebra 1 in the eighth grade. This will give high school credit in math to eighth-grade students and then make it possible to take calculus as a senior or open another elective option. Not only that, it will give our students more math knowledge as they take the ACT.
This is a different and better pathway than offered at public schools and most private schools. In order to accomplish this goal, we will be making some adaptations in middle school, but we will be shifting a few things around at the lower grade levels to allow students to have a smooth pathway to Algebra I in eighth grade.
- K4 - A Beka Kindergarten
- K5 - Bob Jones 1
- 1st - Bob Jones 2
- 2nd - Bob Jones 3
- 3rd - Bob Jones 4
- 4th - Bob Jones 5
- 5th - Bob Jones 6
- 6th - Bob Jones 7
- 7th - Glenco Pre Algebra
- 8th - Cengage Algebra I (and beyond)
Students use Bob Jones math books through 7th-grade level math. In recent years we have examined a variety of options for transitioning students from basic math to more complicated Algebra and critical thinking skills. With the distinct goal of preparing students for Algebra 1 in eighth grade, Bob Jones is the clear choice of teachers and principals.
We recognize not every single student will be ready for Algebra I in eighth grade, although we will certainly try to make it happen. In such cases, we will have a different option that will still put a student on the traditional pathway to take four high school credits of math. In such cases, a student may not be ahead of the curve, but they will not be behind it. We desire to challenge every student toward excellence in mathematics and will expect the best of what they can accomplish.
Our new curriculum has led us to Cengage Big Ideas Math. This product features not only the textbook text but quick access videos next to problems enabling students to see a person demonstrating the concept. This will aid in the review of difficult concepts and offer one more reference for the various math theories and real-life applications leading to critical thinking and deeper understanding.
As one might imagine, the Bible is an important area for us. With a strong foundation of Biblical concepts and modern application already being taught in our classrooms, we are moving toward a coordinated program to transition students from the earliest grade levels all the way to graduation.
Our Bible offerings in grades 1-12 utilize Summit Ministries materials. Summit Ministries has been around for a few decades now. They are a highly respected and trusted source of worldview training for young people and adults. Our own Mrs. Brooks (former Superintendent) has been on the governing Board for Summit Ministries and many of our staff have attended conferences. Some of our students have also benefited from Summit summer programming.
The high school materials are ready now and will be a wonderful resource for us in addition to our history of religion class (or world religions). Our upper school Bible teachers are also excited from this transition as we know Summit materials will give our students the best exposure to Christian ideas, including modern topics, that tend to challenge students as they go to college.
CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT PLAN
My prayer is that all parents, teachers, and students understand that we desire to give the very best academic experience we can deliver. Curriculum evaluation is part of that process and we will continue to review it. In fact, we have put into a place a three-year revolving calendar that allows us to examine every area of our program at least once every three years. This does not mean that we will always make a change, but we do owe it to every family to look in the mirror often enough to ensure we are on the right path, our material is current, and our usage conforms with the Biblical Foundations we hold dear.