Frequently Asked Questions

Is School for Tomorrow accredited?

Yes. We have met the State of Maryland’s strin­gent require­ments for nonpublic schools and are accred­ited by the Mary­land State Depart­ment of Educa­tion (MSDE).

Are SFT teachers certified?

Some have been; others haven’t. All, however, are highly qual­i­fied, talented profes­sionals who connect well with kids and are dedi­cated to enhancing the educa­tion and welfare of each of our students. Studies have shown that certi­fi­ca­tion does not equate with effec­tive teaching. And many of the best teachers have come to teaching later in life. Quite simply, School for Tomorrow seeks out the best teachers with the right mix of skill, knowl­edge, tempera­ment and total dedi­ca­tion to educating young people.

Where is School for Tomorrow located?

SFT is located at 4511 Bestor Drive, Rockville, MD 20853 in the same building as The Children’s Learning Center (CLC). 4511 Bestor Drive is about a 10-​​minute drive from the Twin­brook, Rockville, and Glen­mont Red Line Metro stations. Ride-​​on and Metro bus stops are within walking distance of our building.

What makes SFT so different from other secondary schools?

At SFT,  we derive, every­thing we do from asking two core ques­tions: (1) What does a high school grad­uate need to know and be able to do to thrive in college, the work­place, and life in the decades ahead? (2) What are the most effi­cient and effec­tive means for students, in general, and each student, in partic­ular, to master the curriculum that results from answering the preceding question?

We are different from other schools in three impor­tant ways. First of all, SFT is a school designed in the 21st century, to prepare our students for life in the 21st century, utilizing all the knowl­edge and resources we now have in the 21st century. More­over, SFT will be an evolving, changing insti­tu­tion, responding to the evolving, changing world around us and students who are with us. Second, SFT’s cutting edge educa­tion model has been derived from a blank slate, and that being the case we are able to be more flex­ible and respon­sive to the needs of students. Third, SFT explic­itly has a dual mission of providing a top-​​quality educa­tion for students, as well as standing as a model for other educa­tional institutions.

It is time to consider that the failure to improve learning might lie precisely in the assump­tion that the problem is one of perfor­mance to be solved by pushing the existing model to do better. Rather, we have instead a design problem—a need for radi­cally different forms of schooling that can better educate the majority of students who, rela­tive to their poten­tial, are under­achieving in the factory model of school.”

—Ted Kolderie, founding partner of Education/​Evolving

Is School for Tomorrow a Comer, Core Knowl­edge, Demo­c­ratic, Essen­tial, Montes­sori, or Progres­sive school?

School for Tomorrow is not affil­i­ated with any one alter­na­tive school move­ment. However, we have adopted and will continue to adopt the most effec­tive features of each approach as applicable.

What type of student does SFT seek?

School for Tomorrow is designed to serve a general, diverse student popu­la­tion with a range of learning styles and abil­i­ties. Our expec­ta­tion is that the vast majority of prospec­tive students will be capable of thriving at SFT and making a posi­tive impact on our community.

Will a student who needs struc­ture be able to succeed at School for Tomorrow?

Yes. It is impor­tant to under­stand that, while SFT students benefit from more choice, flex­i­bility, and indi­vid­u­al­iza­tion than students at other schools, every­thing they do is within the context of signif­i­cant structure.

What time does school start?

All students must be at School for Tomorrow and ready to learn at 9:30 a.m. However, the school is open begin­ning at 8:00 a.m. (The core school day ends at 3:30 p.m., but the school is open until 5:00 p.m.)

The school is inno­v­a­tive. Let me tell you how radical they are: Kids get to eat when they are hungry, and drink water when they are thirsty. Kids move when they need to move, and sit when they need to sit. This is radi­cally humane. And, it creates an atmos­phere where learning can happen.”

—Robbin, SFT parent

What about lunch (and snacks)?

Students bring their own lunches to SFT; we provide refrig­er­a­tors and microwaves for student use. On occa­sion, we offer special lunches.

SFT students have access all day long to hot and cold puri­fied water from our DrinkMore water coolers. More­over, we peri­od­i­cally provide snacks for our students and encourage them to eat snacks they bring to school when­ever they are hungry.

Because of SFT’s home­work policy I’m a lot less stressed and have more time on my hands.”

—Jeremy, SFT student

What about homework?

At School for Tomorrow we have a home reading require­ment, with each student required to read for 30 minutes each day outside of school. In addi­tion, we encourage and support indi­vid­u­al­ized student-​​initiated home­work – that is, school-​​related work at home that is clearly bene­fi­cial as well as without the nega­tive baggage of tradi­tional homework.

Also, our students complete work during our school day that, at other schools, would be assigned as home­work. In fact, it is often much more effi­cient to do such work in the school setting rather than the home setting. Too often the amount of home­work given in today’s schools is driven by the inef­fi­cient use of time during the school day and the false percep­tion that more home­work equates with greater acad­emic rigor.

Does SFT offer AP classes?

At this point, SFT does not offer AP classes. However, as with all possible means of learning, if we deter­mine that AP classes are the best option for some or all of our students, we will. In general, there is great debate regarding the educa­tional value of AP classes. Many top colleges consider it impor­tant for an appli­cant to have taken AP classes. However, plenty of good high schools whose top students regu­larly end up at top colleges do not offer AP classes. What attracts colleges are students who have taken the most rigorous, highest level courses offered by their partic­ular schools.

At School for Tomorrow we expect that our students will take their study of at least some subjects to a signif­i­cantly higher level than AP classes repre­sent. AP and other stan­dard honors or advanced courses are not the ulti­mate defi­n­i­tion of achieve­ment and rigor at SFT. Rather, we provide ample oppor­tu­nity for each student to take his or her educa­tion as far as s/​he can.

[R]igor tradi­tion­ally is equated with mastery of content (core subject) alone, and that’s simply not good enough anymore. Knowl­edge and infor­ma­tion change constantly. Students need both content knowl­edge and skills to apply and trans­form their knowl­edge for useful and creative purposes and to keep learning as content and circum­stances change.… In the United States, we tell students the same thing a hundred times. On the 101st time, we ask them if they remember what we told them the first hundred times. However, in the 21st century, the true test of rigor is for students to be able to look at mate­rial they’ve never seen before and know what to do with it.”

—Ken Kay, pres­i­dent of the Part­ner­ship for 21st Century Skills

What about the SAT (or ACT)?

We are committed to ensuring that School for Tomorrow students are well prepared for the SAT (or the ACT, which is a preferred option for certain students).  At School for Tomorrow we provide all of our students with oppor­tu­ni­ties to take prac­tice PSAT, SAT, and ACT tests. And, as with any assess­ment given to an SFT student, we learn from it. We indi­vid­u­ally analyze each student’s results to deter­mine what they tell us about that partic­ular student (e.g., the student in fact doesn’t know [a partic­ular math subject], the student works too slowly, the student has diffi­culty accu­rately filling in bubble sheets with a number 2 pencil). And we come up with a plan for the student to improve in the areas that need improve­ment. More­over, we offer in-​​house SAT prep and review classes that, as with every­thing we do, draw upon the most up-​​to-​​date, compelling resources and research.

What about college admissions?

School for Tomorrow is designed to enable each student to iden­tify and gain admit­tance to the college best for him/​her. Core to our philos­ophy and approach is, of course, getting to know and under­stand each of our students extremely well. And to help each student iden­tify the college that’s the best fit for him/​her, we commit substan­tial time, energy, and resources to getting to know and under­stand the array of college options.

As for college admis­sions, School for Tomorrow students have a number of advan­tages over compa­rable students coming from tradi­tional public and private schools. In today’s hyper-​​competitive college admis­sions envi­ron­ment, even top D.C.-area high school students with strong SAT scores and extra-​​curricular accom­plish­ments are not guar­an­teed admis­sion to highly selec­tive colleges. Coming from even the best D.C.-area public or private schools, it is often diffi­cult for a student to distin­guish him– or herself from the many other highly qual­i­fied candi­dates from the same or neigh­boring schools. SFT students, however, stand out from the crowd.

We are actively intro­ducing and marketing SFT to a range of quality colleges (and to any partic­ular college in which any of our students are inter­ested), high­lighting all of the ways in which our grad­u­ates are better prepared for college than those from tradi­tional schools.

To learn about the successes of our initial college appli­cants, you can visit our College Admis­sions web page.

My daughter knew she wanted to attend SFT from the first time she visited. However, as a parent I studied the research and writ­ings of some of the leading thinkers in educa­tion to deter­mine if SFT was the right model for my child. In the end I became convinced that, not only is it the best model for my child, we as a country need to seri­ously rethink our approach to education.”

—Holly, SFT parent