For the budding student this is the surest way to limit inspiration and retard the development of self-assessment. The joy for CDS students is in the learning itself. They are working and acquiring knowledge because they are excited by the possibility of how far they can pursue any interest.

Rather than grade the students on how well they learned the countries of North America, after which it is clear there is no reason to go on, CDS students continue on to learning the countries of South America, Europe, Asia, and on and on. They ask for the opportunity to evaluate their own knowledge by testing themselves or making presentations to their classmates.

The teachers are in continuous contact with each student offering honest reflections and soliciting discussion about whether he or she is working up to potential. Each student asks himself: “How much can I do?” (Not, “How much do I have to do?”) And, “How well have I done it?” (Not, “Was it good enough for an A?”) This sense of personal responsibility is the preparation necessary for the competitive 21st century.

In the MIddle School Program, students are given tests, grades, and report cards. What we have found is that by this time, their feelings about learning and their desire to do well is already well established.