A: This is a public school; your child’s state school funding follows him or her to the public school they enroll in.
A: A licensed teacher will be assigned to your child’s class, and there will be an at-home learning coach designated by the parent who will also get training in how to support the child’s learning process.
A: The teachers are all Oregon licensed educators familiar with Oregon curriculum and practices, but also trained in the program’s new model and delivery activities.
A: This program is designed so students spend most of their day doing project-based activities away from the computer. They will check in daily, meet their class for a short time daily, and possibly meet online with a collaborative group of learners. But most of the child’s time is meant to be focused on active learning.
A: The district works with each family to ensure they have the connectivity they need to participate in the program.
A: The school also provides the computer needed to access the resources and connect with their teacher and classmates.
A: The family must ensure there is a learning coach in the home during school hours to help the child keep a schedule, connect with the teacher and class, and follow through on activities. It is also an excellent idea to provide a space dedicated to the learning process and an area where the normal types of school materials are organized and available for students.
A: Aside from online delivery at a distance, there are a number of other differences in this model. Courses are project-based; all learning is geared toward the active pursuit of solutions to real-world problems. Units of study culminate in presentations of projects addressing specific problems, and are delivered live or by recording for the class to learn from. Most introduction of subject information will be short recordings so the student can review it at any time. These are the first major differences people will notice.
A: Social Emotional Learning is built into the curriculum, and will be addressed by the teachers as well. There will be a focus on building relationships, learning to interact at a distance while learning and collaborating together, and life’s durable skills like character, integrity, respect, honor, and justice to name a few. There are also going to be planned social events online for students with others in their age groups so they get to have fun together.
A: You’ll have contact with the teacher and school district leadership, training support, and we’re hoping a collaborative of parents who share their lessons learned and support one another. Education will become a team endeavor, and that works the best for the child.
A: The same district personnel who would meet a child’s learning needs in the brick-and-mortar school will be working with the children at a distance. The same professional assessment of needs and plans for supporting the learning process will be implemented. The same group meetings to discuss concerns will be held.
A: All units of study are aligned to standards, but they don’t stop there. The learning model goes beyond what the standards ask of learners; the model expects students to approach real-world issues, explore the problems, envision solutions, and create a system or model or invention or whatever they can imagine–let’s stop limiting those imaginations–to resolve the issue. State standards and classic textbooks do not attempt this endeavor.
A: FERPA still applies to schooling while at home. The school portal is dedicated to this one school. Your child will log in securely and see only children and teachers from our school. They do not have to leave the learning portal to view instructional recordings, go to break-out rooms for team collaboration, or meet with their class and do white board activities. All these are housed within the school learning portal.
A: One of the major differences between our program and other K-8 educational design models is that they measure students against a grade-level benchmark–achievement, and we measure growth. If you focus on achievement, once a child reaches grade-level in reading, writing, and math (the main areas measured), they’re “good” for now and can peer teach or help the teacher. They’re kids you don’t have to worry about. On the contrary, in a growth model, every student has the right to learn every day. And not just a little. Every student will be measured against their last best performance and encouraged to strive beyond.
A: Because our main instructional approach involves setting the bar higher than where the student is, there are constant adjustments in expectations in the units of study. This is true for every student. All students will demonstrate their learning, and the bar is set based on what we know of that student from watching them in the learning process.
A: Our design model involves students in solving real-world problems by creating projects and collecting the resulting data. Students are expected to tackle problems that affect others and involve those considerations in their calculations. The units combine disciplines—math with science, language arts with social sciences—which gives a more real-world scenario for working through these problems. And student choice is central to the focus of their projects. Teachers guide students to use their skills and interests when targeting their final project activities so that they are personally involved in formulating the problem’s affect and determining how to approach its solution. This builds in natural motivation and interest.
A: The main components of accelerated courses are higher-level thinking, real-world problem-solving activities, challenging content, and personalized projects. These are all embedded in the program’s design model.
Q: What does the program offer for students who are 2E—Twice Exceptional—technically on the spectrum but very high performing in certain areas beyond the general classroom offerings?
A: Because the program is managed by a public school district, students have access to all the support and assistance students with special needs deserve both legally and morally. They will be given all the benefits of an individualized learning plan and the resources to support that plan. But because the program is individualized, there is no previously designated set of expectations on what a child can do in any area of learning. If a child is rather low in one area and exceptionally high in another, it does not disrupt the learning process. Growth will be the goal in every area. And with a home-based learning coach guiding the student, the teacher visiting with the student multiple times a day, and the support the learning coach will receive, we strive to meet the student just where they are to guide them forward.
A: The program is individualized; every student is assessed on their own performance history and guided on toward greater learning. When needed, the child’s learning skills are compared to national norms just as you would take your child to the doctor for a regular check up and want to know if their height is in the normal range for his or her age. However, that score is only used to guide the next steps in the individualization process. The learning is not left to chance. The units are designed in levels, and students show proficiency at each level of learning before moving on. They are never pushed forward to the next chapter or unit because that’s where the majority of the class is. Students are never skipped over. Every student is guided to reaching proficiency in knowledge and skills before moving on in the unit.
A: Personalization refers to student skill sets and whether they do or do not demonstrate proficiency. We do not rush students through a unit of study because the class has moved on. We utilize support resources and activities to make sure the knowledge and skills are in pace and proficiency is demonstrated before moving forward. And that is different for each student.
A: Individualization refers to student interests. The program allows the student to tailor their project work to meet their personal interests and involve those interests and favored activities and subject areas in their project-based work. Student choice and involvement as the units progress is a standard component of the program.