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Middle School Curriculum

Grades 5–8

The Middle School Course of Study offers increasingly challenging courses that help students to discover who they are as learners and what they’re passionate about. At the same time that our teachers are challenging students, they and their colleagues — including advisors, our learning support team, and the Middle School counselor — are offering support to help them succeed.

Faculty emphasize lifelong skills like time management, problem-solving and organization and work to help students build agency. The goal is to help students to experience success (and learn from failure) in their Middle School coursework and feel confident that they’re ready to tackle challenges in Upper School and beyond.





Competency-Based Learning

Starting in the 2024–2025 school year, Durham Academy’s Middle School will adopt a competency-based learning (CBL) system in all subjects in grades 5 through 8.

Competency-based learning is an educational approach that focuses on mastering specific skills or knowledge areas defined by a set of rigorous, explicit, transparent expectations outlining the essential knowledge and skills (competencies) within a specific course or subject.

Progress is communicated through feedback centered on proficiency or mastery of each skill rather than a numeric or average-based letter grade. Teachers design assessments that require students to use skills that are central to their discipline. Each assessment opens an exchange between teacher and learner about how to improve their skills, perpetually stretching the learner to grow their skills in that area.

We believe that competency-based learning serves the needs of all Middle School students by helping them focus on their skills, not their scores — and striving for progress, not perfection. A competency-based approach helps Middle Schoolers better understand who they are as learners: identifying and communicating their strengths, where they need to grow, and the ways they can strive for improvement.

Learn More About Competency-Based Learning