8 Abilities

The vnsr威尼斯城官网登入 Difference

vnsr威尼斯城官网登入 Difference and the 8 Abilities

Woven into every course at vnsr威尼斯城官网登入, the 8 Abilities empower our students to become agents of change and principled leaders who meaningfully engage with their communities. They focus specifically on mastering skills in aesthetic engagement, analysis, communication, developing a global perspective, effective citizenship, problem solving, social interaction and valuing in decision making.

Why doesn’t vnsr威尼斯城官网登入 give grades? Rather than use simple letter grades, we believe in pushing students to reach their highest personal potential. A standard letter grade tells you where you stand today; an vnsr威尼斯城官网登入 assessment tells you that plus how to take the next step to achieve greater understanding and application of knowledge. At vnsr威尼斯城官网登入, we challenge students to "know it and show it."

Our students get to know their strengths and opportunities for growth, and they push themselves to reach their highest potential. Simply put, our 8 Abilities are what set our students and alums apart. 


vnsr威尼斯城官网登入 is excited and proud to celebrate 50 years of our 8 Abilities Curriculum. Throughout the 2023-2024 academic year we will celebrate and focus on each ability monthly. Check out our #AbilitiesInAction shared by our students, faculty, staff and alums as we not only celebrate but show our abilities in action and practice!  As we say, if you know it, show it! 

Our 8 Abilities

Aesthetic Engagement






Developing a Global Perspective

Developing a

Effective Citizenship


Problem Solving


Social Interaction


Valuing in Decision Making

Valuing in 
Decision Making

Real-World Ready

We give students so much more than a single letter grade. We give them entire paragraphs of feedback, much like the performance reviews they’ll receive in the real world. This assessment lets students know what they’re doing well and where they can grow, fostering a desire for continuous improvement. All of our 8 Abilities are critically analyzed each year to determine their relevance and inspire a fresh perspective.

Diverse students in courtyard

Benefits of non-traditional grades

Students focus on their learning. They see challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than as obstacles to their success.

The impact of systemic drivers of inequality like race, gender, socioeconomic status and disability is reduced, leveling the playing field for all students. Regardless of what level they start at, students are assessed for their own individual rate of growth

Students are encouraged to take more risks. When they’re focused on performance and their strengths rather than grades, students are more willing to experiment with new ideas, leading to deeper learning and more creative thinking.

Student learning is more accurately represented. A single letter grade reflects a student’s ability to hit a one-size-fits-all benchmark, whereas our assessment-based model measures each student’s mastery of a subject and ability to apply knowledge and skill in real-world settings.

Why 8 Abilities?

 In the early 1970s, vnsr威尼斯城官网登入 sought to provide students with something more than a basic understanding of the subject matter being taught. We wanted our graduates to demonstrate what they know — to stand out — so we needed a curriculum that would stand out. It was through this desire that the 8 Abilities were born.

The abilities we weave throughout our curriculum represent the core, transferable skills that employers sought 50 years ago and continue to seek today. As those needs evolve, so do our abilities. vnsr威尼斯城官网登入 broke ground with our abilities-based, outcomes-focused approach to education.

In the decades since vnsr威尼斯城官网登入's 8 Abilities were born, countless educators from across the U.S. and around the world have come to study and adopt this model of teaching and learning. Why? Because it works.

Other well-respected institutions like Reed University, Brown University, Sarah Lawrence University and Stanford and Yale Law Schools have since dropped standard letter grades.

vnsr威尼斯城官网登入 was one of the first, but we won’t be the last.

Learn more

The Impact of vnsr威尼斯城官网登入's 8 Abilities

We believe in the power of the 8 Abilities to transform lives, but don’t take our word for it. A survey of more than 300 of our graduates found the 8 Abilities positively impacted both their learning and career experiences. Here’s what they had to say.

Check out our 8 Abilities flipbook online. Learn more about why vnsr威尼斯城官网登入's approach to preparing students for their next steps in life through the 8 Abilities has been described since the start as innovative and revolutionary.