Middle School

A New Kind of Learning Experience

At Lab, we defy the norms of traditional education—no standalone subjects, no distinct grade levels, and no letter grades. We remake school as a vibrant ecosystem for deeper learning, powered by intellectual curiosity and real-world problem-solving.

Our Interdisciplinary, Project-Based Approach

Engage with authentic problems, create meaningful projects, and follow your intellectual curiosity and interests—all aligned with the Virginia Standards of Learning. Our projects typically last about two weeks and are structured around three vital components:

  • Project Launch: A real-world context introduces students to the subject matter, providing an initial spark for inquiry.

  • Collaborative Learning: Students engage in rigorous research and hands-on work, seamlessly integrating multiple subject areas for a rich, interdisciplinary learning experience.

  • Authentic Exhibition: As we're able, students present their work to relevant stakeholders, like our recent collaboration with Morven Farms that explored the notions of space and community impact. Learn more on the Morven Project page.

Literacy and Numeracy Development

Every day offers an opportunity for students to cultivate their reading and numeracy skills. Reading extends beyond choice books to include project-relevant research. Numeracy is reinforced through investigations and skill practice within adaptable math groups.

Typical Day at Lab

  • Advisory: A time for social-emotional connection and guidance.
  • Interdisciplinary Project Time: The core of our academic approach, where students collaborate on interdisciplinary projects.
  • Lunch
  • Choice Reading: Freedom to explore books of interest.
  • Math and Writing: Focused skill development and application.
  • Exploratory: Physical or creative activities to balance the day.
  • High School Credit Courses: Available for 8th-grade students for advanced learning.
  • Recess/Brain Breaks: Scattered throughout the day to provide students with a mental refresh and boost focus and creativity.

Holistic Assessments

Conventional grading can be limiting. At Community Lab School, we use a standards-based grading approach, working with students to establish a mastery learning framework that spans a broad set of educational standards.

Multiple Tools for Understanding

  • Formative Assessments: Used to check for real-time understanding and to inform our instructional design decisions.

  • Performance-Based Assessments: Aligned with Albemarle County's Lifelong Learning Competencies, these are integrated into the ongoing learning process.

  • Standards of Learning Assessments: These fulfill all Virginia requirements and are augmented by locally developed assessments.

Reporting Categories

  • Language Arts: Communication; Reading; Writing; Research
  • Math: Number and Number Sense; Computation and Estimation; Probability and Statistics; Patterns, Functions, and Algebra
  • Social Studies: History; Geography; Economics; Civics
  • Fine Arts: Visual Communication and Production; Art History and Cultural Context; Analysis, Evaluation, and Critique; Aesthetics
  • Science: Scientific and Engineering Practices; Force, Motion, and Energy; Matter; Living Systems and Processes; Earth and Space Systems; Earth Resources