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Age Requirements

We approve students for courses based on demonstrated readiness for course content and level. This assessment of readiness may include intellectual, emotional and social development. We place each student individually and specifically for each enrolled course, based on the placement materials we receive and following these general guidelines. We consider age and graduation year, but give higher consideration to academic and emotional maturity of analysis and expression.

We also encourage parents to consider whether there is presently any gain in graduating a student “early” from high school. In today’s market, internships and other life experiences — especially international experiences — are increasingly important in starting careers and vocations. Getting a degree faster is not proving to be beneficial anymore, and pushing students ahead in school can shorten their development and reduce their opportunities for gaining other experiences and developing other skills that would help them in college and career. So we encourage parents to be cautious about moving students ahead faster than they are ready to do well.

General Guidelines

Older Students. If an older student is not yet academically ready for a courses with his peers in a particular subject, we seek to place that student as high as we can where he will enjoy success and make best progress. TPS does not use cameras in class or post profile data to other students, so we minimize social bias in the classroom. Older students in younger classes are generally not a problem, and we work with parents to find the best fit and plan for that student.

Younger students. The decision to accelerate a student above age-based grade level should be made carefully, because there are other factors of balanced development, content maturity, and independent study skills that should factor into the decision. Our two decades of experience is that even if a student is intellectually able to do more advanced material, he is often not ready to work it independently (without considerable assistance that other older students in the same course do not require) and fully benefit from it (particularly from the more mature content and discussion). Intellectually talented students are often better advised to build more balance, breadth, depth and applied experience at each level than to rush to new levels. TPS is happy to provide extra reading, study, and assignments to students seeking extra breadth and depth. We are also happy to consider placing a student ahead of age-based grade level, but for placements that are more than one year ahead of age-based recommended grade level we will request an academic counseling meeting with the parents as part of placement approval.

Specific Considerations

  • Elementary courses require a student to be ready for basic analysis and discussion, ready to do some independent work in class and outside of class, and able to express himself in basic writing.
  • Middle school courses assume a student who is starting to interact in mature analysis, discussion and writing, and who is doing the majority of his work independently.
  • High school courses assume a student who is engaging in increasingly mature analysis, discussion, and writing. They also assume a student is increasingly able to intuit and refine creative ideas and theses of his own, beyond just repeating someone else’s analysis, ideas, and explanations. High school students are assumed to be doing all their work independently, with accountability rather than direct oversight.
  • High school Science beyond Biology requires a strong Algebra background, so we do not place a student into high school science until his Math level supports the placement. Some students master Algebra earlier and are ready for high school Science sooner.
  • High school History and Social Science courses require the student to be able to analyze and write at the level of TPS English 3 or higher, so we do not place a student into high school History or Social Science courses until his English level supports the placement.
  • High school Literature, History, and Social Science courses usually discuss content in a depth that assumes a level of emotional, social, and relational development that can come only with physical maturing and life experience. We generally assume students at around 15 years or older to be ready for such content, analysis, and discussion if parents enroll them there. We generally find that younger students are not yet ready to fully benefit from such courses, and their presence in the class inhibits the analysis and discussion for the rest, so we do not place younger students in these courses. We have other great Humanities (Literature, History, Worldview, and more) courses for intellectually advanced younger students.
  • We generally do not approve students for AP or college courses prior to grade 11. There is considerable risk and little gain in a student starting an AP record or college transcript more than two years before he plans to graduate high school. Students gain more from building a stronger foundation so they can earn higher grades when they start a college transcript.