The 9th-grade transitions committee was formed to create a set of competencies across the 9th-grade curriculum. To identify learning goals and skills necessary for a 9th-grader across disciplines, Tang Fellows audited 9th-grade courses and organized faculty in identifying core competencies.


The work created robust conversation and departmental growth. Students will benefit from a clearer expression of what it takes to succeed at Phillips Academy, and faculty will have a better understanding of what their colleagues are teaching. Both will be able to make connections across disciplines with a set of aligned competencies in hand.


It was challenging to work across departments and collaborate with faculty who had anywhere from five to thirty years of experience at Phillips Academy. Alignment processes often end in stalemate, but the 9th-grade transitions committee was able to overcome and align natural divergences. In the end, the group created a framework for faculty that will help Andover students succeed.

Takeaways & Best Practices

Renewal is the cornerstone to advancement. Andover teachers collaborated across departments to generate a shared set of 9th-grade competencies. These competencies will support students in their transitions to Andover and will provide more coherent guidance for Andover faculty who teach and support them.

Unifying expectations relieves stress for incoming 9th-graders. The transitions committee not only helped to advance teaching and learning but also helped make the Academy more accessible and transparent to incoming 9th-graders.

The transitions committee made it easier for the faculty to communicate expectations to 9th-graders.

Bottom Line

Complex committee work requires strong leadership, coordinated research and planning, and sustained commitment. The Tang Institute’s support of this project in terms of time and research supported the working group in their successful effort to provide clarity and guidance to our community.

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