Academic Program

We believe students come to school with a great deal of prior knowledge and curiosity. They learn best when teachers build on this curiosity by helping them pose real questions about the world around them and subsequently helping them conduct in-depth investigations to answer those questions.

Our curriculum has two important aspects, which provide for student learning needs:

Systematic instruction, in which teachers plan activities to help children acquire skills and strategies.

Integrated project work, in which students conduct in-depth investigations of important topics and apply skills and strategies to solve real world problems.

Duke School has competency benchmarks at each grade level in all curricular areas. These benchmarks are based on standards set by national professional organizations such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Teachers set goals based on ongoing assessment of each child.

"My family has been very pleased with our Duke School experience. We've found that the teachers truly care for each student’s welfare and go out of their way to make each student feel special and perform to their full potential. Duke School's academic program encourages children to ask questions, use their imaginations, take time and care with their assignments, and to make the most of each day. I couldn't ask for a better school for my children."

~Robin, Thomas, Maya '18, and Genaro '21

Middle School Classroom

Duke School offers learning through project work, small class sizes, and a rigorous academic approach. Our integrated curriculum is taught in a hands-on learning environment where children collaborate in an atmosphere of acceptance, respect, and appreciation.


Assessment at Duke School

Often prospective parents pose the questions, “What do you do if you don’t give grades? Do you give end-of-grade tests like the public schools?”

Although the controversies surrounding student assessment receive a lot of attention in the popular press, the coverage is often reduced to the pros and cons of high stakes standardized testing. The reality is that student assessment is a critical part of any educational program, and a good program will have multiple ways of assessing student progress. In a program like Duke School’s, which is based on best practices*, assessment determines what we do each and every day in our classrooms and helps us evaluate the effectiveness of our educational program.

*What does “best practices” mean? Best practices is a method or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved with other means, and that is used as a benchmark.

Appropriate assessment practices:
  • Identify a student’s knowledge, skills, and interests
  • Inform the goals we set with students
  • Help chart student progress toward specific learning goals
  • Provide data to assist in program evaluation
Advantages of this type of assessment:
  • Gives students, parents and teachers greater and more detailed information than a letter or numerical grade.

  • Teachers know who needs additional help in certain subject areas and who needs a greater challenge.