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At Taft we continually examine and revise our offerings to provide students with the chance to build a strong intellectual and academic foundation. The curriculum combines required courses with intriguing electives, as well as opportunities for independent study. We seek to provide students with a strong content understanding and skills foundation while allowing them to pursue their evolving interests when Taft’s dedicated faculty nurture students’ academic passions. Class size is typically 10-16 students, while the student-faculty ratio is 5:1.
The school has two semesters during which over 200 courses are offered each worth 1 unit. Thirty-six units are required for graduation. In grades 9 and 10, the minimum course load is five academic courses; in grades 11 and 12, four academic courses.
Here are Taft’s minimum requirements in each discipline:
1 unit of English every semester
4 units of History (must include 2 units U.S. History)
4 units of Laboratory Science
Level III of Modern Language or Latin
Algebra II and Trigonometry in Mathematics
One semester of Arts for each year in attendance
Monitoring and Communication
Taft closely monitors the progress of its students; the full faculty gathers seven times each year to discuss how each student is performing both in and outside of the classroom. Teachers submit grades every three weeks, examinations are held at the end of each semester (in December and May/June), and academic reports are made available on the portal four times each academic 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 AP courses, and every Taft student enrolled in an AP 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 AP score for Taft students is 4 out of a possible 5, and nearly 90 percent of graduates take at least one AP Examination during their Taft career.
Independent Tutorials and Global Online Academy
When a student’s interests fall outside Taft’s offerings (or if s/he progresses beyond the most challenging course in any discipline), s/he may apply for an independent tutorial (“I.T.”) if a faculty member is willing to join the student in the academic journey. An I.T. is a for-credit, assessments-inclusive course designed jointly by teacher and student, and it may run a single semester or all year. Taft is also a member of Global Online Academy (GOA), and many students seeking less traditional offerings find attractive options at GOA.
Recognition of Excellence
The faculty selects outstanding students for awards sponsored by Harvard University, Princeton University, University of Chicago, University of Virginia, Brown University, Dartmouth College, Smith 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.
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.