(And why it doesn’t involve homework.)

One of the three pillars of a Skyline education is rigor. In a nutshell, rigor requires students to be actively engaged in their learning, learn at high levels, and both apply and demonstrate their learning in meaningful ways.

Rigor is not the same thing as busy work, which we normally associate with classroom learning. Many Skyline families are initially surprised at the lack of homework, until they understand this key idea:

“Rigor is NOT lots of homework, projects, resources, or rules. When those four nouns are used to define rigor, the teacher is flailing, thinking quantity is quality. Rigor is not about adding a column of data or remembering the main characters in a Shakespeare play. It’s seeing how knowledge connects to life, to circumstances, and to daily problems.”—TeachHub e

So what does rigor look like at Skyline?

Rigor comes from efficiency.

In traditional high schools, it is not uncommon for students to lose one to two hours of their day to transition time—the time spent not only moving from classroom to locker to classroom, but also settling into a new classroom environment and getting oriented to the day’s work.

At Skyline, school-wide classroom norms and routines make the most of classroom time.  Protocols established for our Academic Lab period facilitate the productive use of student independent work times–making deliberate practice a valued academic skill.  Our natural efficiency allows students to sink into the work and focus for longer periods of time, which is critical for higher-level thinking.

Rigor comes from quality, not quantity.

We would rather see one solid, perfectly written thesis statement than a poorly-written or poorly-organized five-page essay. We focus on small but challenging assignments. Students test ideas, link concepts, and encapsulate their arguments.

Rigor comes from revision.

In the pursuit of quality, we embrace revision as part of our learning model. A student’s best work is not usually created on the first or second attempt. We encourage students to critique and revise their work by offering timely feedback.

Rigor comes from curiosity.

At Skyline, we aim to ignite intellectual curiosity. Why? Because learning is a lifelong pursuit, and curiosity not only propels us to learn, it makes learning exciting. We foster curiosity in a number of ways—through personalized education, non-cognitive learning, and frequent expeditions. Once students reconnect with their innate curiosity, their learning naturally becomes more rigorous.

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