What Exactly Is Academic Excellence?

Photo+courtesy+of+iStock

Photo courtesy of iStock

At Kettle Moraine School for Arts and Performance (KM Perform), students constantly work towards improving their life skills through a course called Academic Excellence. It consists of seven competencies: Organization, Quality, Time Management, Persistence, Curiosity, Flexible Thinking, and Managing Impulsivity. These are competencies that can improve a student’s life both in and outside of school: “The areas of Academic Excellence . . . are paramount as it relates to success in day to day life, regardless of life path, choices or career,” says Mr. Anderson, a KM Perform teacher and administrator.

The first area of Academic Excellence is Organization. This can be demonstrated by outlining projects, keeping track of due dates, or even utilizing folders in Google Drive. Students looking to improve their organizational skills should first look at how they are already using organization, and then find tools to help them utilize it in a more meaningful way.

The second competency is Quality. Students can show competency by submitting evidence of a high-quality work they’ve done, such as a thoroughly revised film, essay, artwork, or even a play production or composition. Pursuing Quality as a goal requires students to dedicate their time to making sure their work is of professional grade.

Next is Time Management. Evidence of good Time Management can range from production notes/filming schedules to daily homework trackers. Students pursuing this competency should keep track of how they are managing their time, and reflect upon productivity in order to maximize effectiveness.

Third is Persistence. Potential evidence could be tracking a student’s focus (i.e. what the student intended to get done, what actually got done,  how it got done, and how much time it took). Pursuing Persistence as a goal means that students must actively work towards improving focus and grit in the context of both academics and personal endeavors.

The fourth area is Curiosity. Curiosity can be demonstrated by taking an interest in others’ lives, or even researching and taking notes on things you ponder about. For example, Mr. Anderson is currently “trying out new podcasts, listening to new voices (as it relates to media, news and in my personal life),” as well as trying to find out the passions of new people he’s met – that’s right, teachers have Academic Excellence goals, too.

The fifth potential goal is Flexible Thinking. Students can demonstrate this by considering alternate ways to think about the world and completing tasks. A good way to track this skill and submit evidence is to write down problems you face and how you used Flexible Thinking to solve it And prevent it from happening again.

The last competency is Managing Impulsivity. Students can demonstrate proficiency in this by keeping track of how often they make decisions without thinking things through. Any student pursuing this skill would need to identify what is causing their impulsivity, and then track how often they are able to manage it.

The areas of Academic Excellence will help students far beyond high school. As Mr. Anderson says, “No one ever got a job, or more importantly kept a job, because of an ACT score, math grade or individual mechanic that exists within any [academic] content area.” The ACT, though it’s great for getting into colleges, isn’t necessarily going to be your biggest helper when you’re applying for a job; a standardized test won’t help you master these life skills. Regardless of what you choose to do beyond high school, the competencies of Academic Excellence will help you long after you’ve graduated.