Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Executive Summary

Throughout the course of the year a group of Graded faculty have been leading the school in a comprehensive evaluation of the work we do.  In April a group of school leaders will arrive on campus to formally evaluate the school.  This evaluation will end with Graded being accredited to continue providing the U.S. diploma to its graduates.  The accreditation process has allowed our school to review all facets of our school and upon the completion of the process we will have a K-12 school improvement plan to make the Graded Experience even better.

A central part of the accreditation process is the Executive Summary.  The ES is a narrative that must capture the essence of the school in 6000 characters (including spaces).  That's around two pages.  How does one capture all that is Graded in two pages?  It is a difficult task, but a team of writers has completed three drafts of the document.  The first draft was reviewed and commented on by the Learning Leadership Team.  The second by the entire Graded faculty.  Draft Three can be found below.  We need to hear the voice of our high school.  The link is set so only the Graded Community can access the document.  Please let me know if you have problems.

We ask that you read the document and RESPOND TO THIS BLOG POST TO comment on what is done well, what needs to be added and what can be removed.  You will notice that the document is broken into four sections, each with a prompt (blue font) that describes the content to be included in that section.  Under each prompt is the Graded response.  When the four sections are combined the character count is 6451.  We are almost 500 spaces over the limit right now and cuts will have to be made.  That is for another day.  For now, please contribute to this process by sharing your thoughts on the work done so far.  You have until  Friday, February 8 to respond.  The next step in the process will be to get feedback from the students in the other divisions and Graded parents.  Our goal is to have the ES completed by February 28.

I thank you in advance for your help with this important process.


The Executive Summary highlights key aspects of Graded's program. Completed for External Review.

The Executive Summary (ES) provides the school an opportunity to describe in narrative form its vision as well as strengths and challenges within the context of continuous improvement. Use the links below to navigate the Executive Summary and respond to the various questions. The responses should be brief, descriptive, and appropriate for the specific section. It is recommended that the responses are written offline and then transferred into the sections below.

Description of the School: Describe the school's size, community/communities, location, and changes it has experienced in the last three years. Include demographic information about the students, staff, and community at large. What unique features and challenges are associated with the community/communities the school serves?

Graded School is a private day school that serves both the international community and host-country nationals in São Paulo, Brazil. The school currently enrolls 1224 students from 35 countries. Forty-two percent of the students are Brazilian and just over 30% are from North America.  Of the remaining population, 11% come from Asia, 9% from Latin America and 6% from Europe.  Over the past decade enrollment has increased 11% bringing the school to capacity.

The faculty consists of 142 teachers, counselors and administrators, roughly half of those being Brazilian.  Though the second half of the faculty consists mostly of citizens of the United States (40%), Graded has a number of professionals from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. Over half of the faculty holds a Master’s degree or PhD.

To serve the diverse population, Graded offers the Brazilian, American and IB diplomas in order to prepare students for entrance into the best universities in Brazil, the U.S. and the world.  The expectations of all constituents are high and how best to balance the needs of the various constituents is a consistent challenge for the institution.   

School’s Purpose: Provide the school's purpose statement and ancillary content such as mission, vision, values, and/or beliefs. Describe how the school embodies its purpose through its program offerings and expectations for students.

Graded’s mission reads, Graded is an American school that serves an international community of learners by inspiring individual excellence in a collaborative setting, fostering intercultural competence and empowering students to become engaged, ethical citizens in a dynamic world. The school meets its mission of developing individual excellence through its rigorous and varied academic program that incorporates numerous classes dedicated to the arts and technology and culminates with the opportunity to earn three diplomas upon graduation.   

A wide array of extracurricular and community service activities further empower students to grow towards excellence through collaboration with peers and faculty. Recent examples are the Global Issues Network and Innovate 2013 conferences hosted at Graded as well as activities like MUN and HACIA Democracy that send students to locations in Brazil and across the world to engage and work with their peers from varied cultures.

Community service programs such as Ilha do Cardoso, FALA, and Sister School further demonstrate the school’s commitment to developing “engaged, ethical citizens” by working with local and regional communities to address the issues they face.  

Notable Achievements Areas of Improvement: Describe the school's notable achievements and areas of improvement in the last three years. Additionally, describe areas for improvement that the school is striving to achieve in the next three years.

The central focus over the past three years has been to ensure excellence in the instruction and assessment practices at Graded.  A formal process of teacher evaluation has been implemented based around the Professional Growth and Supervision Plan that measures teacher performance against four domains: Instruction, Assessment, Professionalism and Learning Environment.  

Teachers set yearly goals based on the Assessment Continuum that was developed by the Professional Learning Advisory Council.  A five-year curriculum review process is underway aimed at reviewing the curriculum to ensure it is in line with best practices.  In addition, standards for content and skills have been agreed upon and the work in all grades is now measured against those standards.  Finally, new grade descriptors have been adopted that align the expectations of student mastery across the school.  

This work has increased teacher effectiveness and further integrated the Brazilian, American and IB diploma programs.  All have thrived.  Enrollment in the IB program is at record highs, the Brazilian Studies program has been recognized as a “model for Brazilian schools and professional education” and the American curriculum is sound in scope and sequence throughout the school.       

Graded has addressed the limitations of its infrastructure by performing a thorough review of facility needs and will soon begin a construction project that will allow Graded to continue to provide a world-class education. To fund the project a capital campaign has begun to raise the money needed to break ground. A separate fund - the Graded Fund – has also been created to raise money on a yearly basis to support enrichment and school improvement.  

Graded is harnessing the power of technology to improve student learning.  This is the first year the upper school is a 1 to 1 laptop environment and students in first grade are piloting a project using the Ipad as a tool for learning literacy.   In addition, standards for IT use have been developed to provide clear expectations for behavior in a connected school.  

The faculty weekly dedicates itself to continuous personal growth through a formalized system of Professional Learning Communities. This effort has enhanced student learning, created a culture of collaboration, and provided a constant source of professional development.

Finally, over the past year the Graded community examined the school’s mission and a faculty committee and the board of directors then used the feedback to revise the mission to more accurately reflect the school’s purpose.

A great strength of Graded is the extent to which students and teachers are empowered to create new initiatives.  The corresponding weakness is that new activities and events are added yearly leading to a frenetic, at times unhealthy, pace.  Another area for improvement is to formalize a process that systematically reviews the mission and values of the institution and includes a broad array of stakeholders.  The school also needs to strengthen the structures that will ensure the recent curriculum work is maintained through the personnel changes inherent in an international school. While the overall activities program is strong, there is no intramural or fitness program in the higher grades to encourage lifelong fitness.  


Additional Information: Provide any additional information you would like to share with the public and community that were not prompted in the previous sections.

Graded is proud of its long history and core values that represent a blending of Brazilian and American cultures.  The celebration of these two core components of Graded School, along with the other cultures that form the multinational community at Graded, is a constant source of inspiration and pride.

The faculty, staff and students are proud to be a part of Graded and feel they can challenge themselves in a supportive environment.  This environment fosters a culture of constant improvement in which students and adults are encouraged to lead, to innovate, to follow their passions in service of the common good and to daily strive to make the school, the community and the world a better place.  This is the Graded Experience and it is profound.  


  1. I feel that perhaps more could be said about Graded’s arts programs. We have wonderful plays each semester, a film festival, etc. It’s true that more people could be involved however, maybe in some ways that’s a weakness. As you’ve mentioned, there are lots of activities growing. My opinion is perhaps there’s too much focus on one area of extracurriculars (politics and community services for instance; both are very successful and should be continued definitely though), and that’s why new activities are being suggested (arts, baking, etc.). My personal opinion is that PE isn’t required for the higher grades by the way; plenty of students go to the gym or have their own program to exercise because Graded tends to be limited by only having team sports, not martial arts or dance, etc. I think it’s a good point that you’ve mentioned more and more students are taking the IB diploma. Perhaps mention that new classes like IB Psychology and Chemistry are being implemented to give the students even more choices? I also like the emphasis on our internationality and how everyone (students, teachers and faculty) are all reunited in this one community.

  2. A strength of Graded that was not mentioned is the way new students are welcomed. My children quickly felt assimilated into the school community. I agree with the person above that the addition of IB Chem and Psych is important as Graded is in need of more science courses.

  3. We think that in the Executive Summary, when it talks about 1 to 1 laptops, you should add more background information about when it started and how it is improving the performance of students at Graded School. Also talk more about the middle school and the lower school and how you help students improve their weaknesses.
    Daphne Peter and Tati Curiati

  4. Ricky Bilton and Daniel Civita

    Graded definitely has an outstanding curriculum for a person that desires to go to an American university. However, a significant amount of students wishes to study in a Brazilian university. Students in Graded learn everything in english, except for the subject of the Portuguese Language itself. We believe that students from the Graded High School community should have the option of learning in other subjects in portuguese as well.

  5. I feel that the diversity of graded was well represented, but I feel that factor can be represented more as a strength of graded

  6. I think that the description of the school section is written well. One thing that you need to improve is to add more about all the other grades, not only high school. I also think that you should talk more about what courses are offered at Graded, such as the different art courses and even talk about the sports that you offer after school.

  7. I am glad to see that Graded is developing a system that the graduates get three diplomas but I don't agree that we have all classes in english and only português class in português, because in my opinion we should have more chances to improve our português.

  8. I think that you should add more things about Middle and Elementary school. To me it seems that the only thing that you are taking about is high school. Maybe, you could add more things about middle and elementary school activities and programs. For example, in 7th grade we go to Cartitas to help the little kids. We also do many bake sales to raise money for various charities. I also think that you should add more about the process about how Graded prepares us to be successful. Lastly, you should add the different programs that Graded provides us.

  9. Isabel H. and Laura P.

    I think that you should start saying the small percentages and then the bigger ones because otherwise it looks like they don't matter that much, as if they were the rest... Maybe you could use another word instead of remaining because it sounds bad. Maybe just list the numbers.

  10. Isabel H. and Laura P.

    I think that you should start saying the small percentages and then the bigger ones because otherwise it looks like they don't matter that much, as if they were the rest... Maybe you could use another word instead of remaining because it sounds bad. Maybe just list the numbers.

  11. Something that still needs improvement is the 1 on 1 laptop and I believe that it was not thought over the way it should have been; just like many other ideas or programs that the school has, it is not perfect. What I am trying to say is that I don't think that the laptop program was a good idea. An example of why it is not perfect is because there is always that one person who forgets their laptop at home, or forgets their charger in their locker. This is a problem because we are being marked late if we forget something in our locker and we have to go and get it. Another problem with having laptops in school is that people are going on facebook during class, or tumblr and twitter. This unfocuses the class and if the teacher finds out, he/she has to stop the whole class just because of that one student. Kids can also get lower grades because they are not focused in class for their computer is a distraction. Lastly, the last reason of why the laptop program is not a good idea is because the internet falls all the time, and we have to stop learning, or stop what we are doing because of the internet. If we were working on paper and pencil, we wouldn't have to stop class because the internet fell. All in a nutshell, I believe the laptop program should be thought over and looked after more, or in extreme cases canceled. Even though I love using my laptop, I don't think that we should use it in school, maybe just for homework or at home.

  12. I think that Graded should mention more about the middle school, and how middle school is an important part in the children life because middle school is a transition from lower school to high school.They should mention how middle school prepare the children very well to the high school, and how they transform lower schoolers into high school level. I think Graded should also talk about how Graded math exceeds in middle school and in high school.

  13. By: Pedro Mattos and Matheus Espanha
    On achievement and improvement areas, Brazilian studies have been recognized... But by who? Maybe give more evidence “model for Brazilian schools and professional education”.

  14. Ideas: I think when they are talking about the diplomas(US, Brazilian, and IB) that they should aslo mention the class taken. Such as how if you want to get a Brazilian diploma you have to take BSS, or for only a US diploma you take geography. Then in high school the document should mention the IB programs taken in high school.
    Word choice: In the first paragraph they mention percentages of people from different nationalides

    ( Forty-two percent of the students are Brazilian and just over 30% are from North America. Of the remaining population, 11% come from Asia, 9% from Latin America and 6% from Europe. Over the past decade enrollment has increased 11% bringing the school to capacity.)
    I think instead of doing the first percent written out in words and the rest numbers, they should do all words. Also, they say"of the remaining" and I think they should change that wording.


Members of the Graded community are encouraged to comment and all comments are moderated by Blair Peterson, the High School Principal.