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How Will I Know If My Middle School Learner is Faring Well or Poorly?

By Zach Lahn on July 31, 2023

Many Wonder parents want to measure a middle school learner's progress towards learning to work hard, deliver excellence work and contribute to a community.

Four yardsticks measure the most important areas of growth:

1. Weekly Points measure the ability to focus and work hard.

2. Badges Earned prove a learner can deliver excellent work.

3. 360 Coaching Reviews show growth as a leader, as measured by a survey of peers.

4. Months until Launchpad is earned shows how long it will take a learner to enter Launchpad at the current pace.

    Some Wonder parents also may care about academic skills.

    • Progress in Math and Grammar can be tracked directly on Khan Academy and No Red Ink.
    • Progress in learning to write and reason can be judged by reading Civilization, Writers Workshop and Quest deliverables on Tracker, where every piece of learner work is captured and displayed.
    • Progress on more integrative skills can be seen in exhibitions, where the amount of learning can be compared to a ranking by peers that shows how much hard work each learner invested in each Quest.

    Finally, three times a year a learner will create a badge progress report for parents and have a chance to revise his or her badge plan. Usually the report will include comments from a Squad Leader and your learner.

     What are Freedom Levels?

    Freedom Levels allow Wonder to earn more freedom by delivering on promises. As a parent, there’s no need to completely understand Freedom Levels because you can rest assured Wonders have studied every nuance.

    At Wonder, every learner has more freedom than at a traditional school. Wonders jointly develop studio governance and rules every year. Every learner largely is free to choose when to work and what to work on and free to leave his desk at any time, to take a walk, get a drink or grab a snack – as long as he doesn’t distract anyone else.

    Freedom Levels allow each learner to earn even more freedom with regard to music, eating, collaboration and other choices, by earning Weekly Points, badges and high 360 Coaching Reviews.

    In early months, Wonder may only be working 12.5 to 15 hours earnestly to earn 250 to 300 points per week in Freedom Level One or Two, with 360 Peer Review scores between 6.0 and 6.5 and from zero to 6 badges.

    By Launchpad, Wonders in Freedom Levels Four and Five will be working 20 to 22.5 hours each week to earn 400 to 450 Weekly Points; with 360 Peer Review scores between 7.5 and 8.0, with between 36 and 50 badges to prepare. for the rigorous work of Launchpad.

    How will I know if my learner isn’t progressing?

    Wonder parents may want to more closely monitor progress on Tracker if a learner consistently fails to deliver on badge plans and the “Months until Launchpad” estimate grows higher over time.

    Likewise, it is a serious matter if a learner is sent home for a day for receiving a third strike for violating the minimum standards of the studio or an Honor Code violation. Being sent home is a serious matter because the third time a learner is asked to leave he will not be invited back.

    Finally, if a learner's actions are believed to be detracting from the studio culture, the learner and parents may be asked to sign a Transition Contract laying out a specific set of requirements for remaining in the studio. Likewise, any learner who has decided to attend another school will be asked to commit to specific deliverables to make sure commitment remains high.

    Final Words

    The allure of the Hero’s Journey, Freedom Levels and the accountability of studio contracts are powerful incentives for continued growth.

    When a learner does stumble, parents normally just send a learner back into the studio for valuable lifelong lessons.

    In the rare case where more encouragement from home is needed, Weekly Points, badges earned, 360 Peer Reviews and “months until Launchpad” can help parents keep a close watch on progress, so as to praise every advance.

    [Blogs or portion of blogs may be adapted from the blog of our partner school founder and advisor, Laura Sandefer.]