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At Taft we are continually revising, re-examining and broadening the scope of our curriculum to provide students with a strong intellectual foundation. The rich and varied curriculum combines required classes with challenging electives, as well as opportunities for independent study both in and out of the classroom. Our academic approach provides the important general foundation of knowledge and yet allows students to pursue an individual course of study to fit their needs and specific interests.
Taft's curriculum begins with foundation courses, then broadens into a diverse and challenging number of options, including honors and Advanced Placement courses in every discipline. As students' passions are kindled, they can pursue a wide selection of electives, as well as independent-study possibilities. Advanced coursework includes A.P.s, and equally challenging upper-level electives. Teachers move beyond textbooks and incorporate materials that stimulate sophisticated discourse.
Our objective is to provide each student with a liberal arts education. The school year has two semesters, during which over 200 courses are offered, each worth 1 unit. Thirty-six academic units are required for graduation. In grades 9 and 10, the minimum course load is five major subjects; in grades 11 and 12, four major subjects.
8 units of English
6 units of one foreign language
6 units of mathematics
4 units of history or government
4 units of laboratory science
3 units of arts
Class size is generally 10–16 students, and the student-faculty ratio is 6:1. Taft closely monitors the progress of its students. Every three weeks, teachers submit academic reports. Examinations are held at the end of each semester, and grades and teachers' reports are sent home four times per year.
Advanced Placement Courses
The Advanced Placement program at Taft is one of the best in the nation--with students here taking a total of 510 exams last year alone. Taft offers 30 different A.P. courses, and every Taft student enrolled in an A.P. course is required to take the exam. Many Taft graduates go to college with advanced standing or academic credit and thus are better able to take advantage of the opportunities available in their postsecondary education. The mean A.P. score for Taft students is 4 out of a possible 5, and nearly 90 percent of graduates take at least one A.P. Examination during their Taft career.
Designing Your Own Curriculum
Sometimes your interests do not neatly follow curricular boundaries, or your hunger for learning surpasses regular courses. Taft, in keeping with its philosophy of challenging girls and boys in the widest possible way, permits older students under close supervision to design and follow their own study plans--through independent course work with a faculty member or through an Independent Studies Project.
Recognition of Excellence
The faculty selects outstanding students for awards sponsored by Harvard University, Brown University, Dartmouth College, Smith College, Hamilton College, Holy Cross College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and The Bausch and Lomb Company. The highest academic award given at graduation, The Aurelian Award, is sponsored by The Aurelian Honor Society of Yale University.
Students who rank at the top of the class are inducted into Cum Laude, a national scholarship society in secondary schools corresponding to Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi in colleges and scientific schools. An average of 87 or above qualifies a student for the Honor Roll and 93 or above for High Honors.
In the Senior year, qualified students compete for national recognition and college scholarships through the National Merit Scholarship Competition. The faculty selects one senior to compete for the Morehead Scholarship at the University of North Carolina and another for the Jefferson Scholarship at the University of Virginia.
See the latest course offerings in each department.