Progress Evaluations: What to Expect and Why We do Them

Foss Swim School takes pride in operating like a school, using a structure and schedule that delivers the best possible learning environment for students. It’s why we schedule weekly classes in quarters instead of drop-in classes – quarters allow students and instructors to develop rapport and trust and give students time to get in the repetition needed for skill mastery.

Why, then, do Foss students start the swim evaluations used to place them in their next class so early – sometimes weeks before the current quarter ends? It might seem like giving final exams before finishing all the lessons.

But there is a method at work, and it’s one we have developed over our decades running the school:

  • Progress evaluations are not a one-time event

We are always evaluating our students’ progress. At the start of each quarter, we look at skills ensuring that students are in the right class, and sometimes even shift students around to match their actual level, especially when returning after a break. During the quarter, when you see FOSS managers walking around with their tablets, they are also documenting how students are progressing, checking off individual skills and abilities that have been mastered.

  • Evaluations are for parents as much as they are for students

Since we have a good idea of where each student is, progress week is a dedicated point in time to connect with each parent or guardian and have a specific conversation about where the student is. Often we know at that point if they are ready for the next level, or need more time at the current level. But parents need to be on the same page. During evaluations, you see what we see, and we can discuss the next quarter with that understanding.

  • Evaluations give a jump on scheduling the next quarter

Since families have busy lives, we want to give them as much time as possible when planning their next quarter. With our experience, we usually have a good idea of which level is appropriate for each swimmer in the next quarter. This way, you can get into the FOSS family account when enrollment opens and make scheduling choices. Early enrollment is helpful for FOSS as well since we can see how many students are at each level and plan our pool schedules and staffing accordingly.

  • For those who are close to advancing, evaluations let us know where to focus

Sometimes a student is very close to being ready for the next level, but not quite there. If a student needs to master just a little bit more, the evaluation is when we can identify that gap and give extra homework or spend more time on that skill in the remaining weeks. If they make that progress in the final weeks, we can reevaluate their level for the next quarter. Parents and teachers are welcome to request a reevaluation at any time.

Early evaluations are a feature designed to improve your experience

Ultimately, it comes down to providing each student with the best possible swimming outcome and satisfying the requests of caring parents. It’s normal and expected that students will need more time on some skills and at some levels – that idea of progressing at one’s own pace and in their own way is at the heart of our Swim Path® approach.

It’s worth re-emphasizing: At FOSS, our program assumes that students at each level have mastered all the skills of the previous one, so we never “rubber stamp” or let things slide if students are close – it’s not what’s best for the student, and unfair to the instructor and class at the next level.

From a scheduling perspective, the timing of our evaluations is also good for families. While we can’t guarantee every parent that their child will have a favorite instructor at a specific time, starting to plan early based on how kids have progressed and are expected to progress gives us the best chance to do so.

Progress evaluation week is one of the highlights of our quarter – a chance to celebrate success and look to the future. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do, and are glad to have the chance to engage with parents one on one about their amazing students!


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