To reduce class size – We have “all hands on deck” at key times.
Nearly 90% of our full-time professional staff teach classes. As a result, we cut core class size in half without needing more staff than a typical school. We strategically provide the other necessary non-teaching services and responsibilities by creating dual roles for most staff.
To expand the school year – We stagger teacher vacations.
All teachers still work the same number of days as in any public school — just not all at the same time. As a result, students benefit from a 200-day school year and teachers from more than 20 days of high caliber training annually.
To expand the day – We trade “time for time.”
We offset longer school days with somewhat shorter training days: trading time for time. The total work hours balance out to be the same as in any school. As a result, it does not cost more.
Our standards-driven and data-informed program is divided into three types of courses.
Foundation Courses Every Morning.
Each day, all students take two 85-minute Foundation Courses, the core of our instructional program. Foundation Courses are taught by a team of up to four teachers. In a fully scaled school, classes average less than 16 students. The teams include experts in the content area and experts in special needs or ELL instruction. Each team teaches their Foundation Courses in the morning and has common preparation time every day. This daily debrief enables the staff to review the instructional goals, assess students’ progress and plan. This shared work time allows teachers to integrate critical data analysis into planning. To ensure students success, all of our faculty will receive expanded training in second language acquisition and differentiated instruction.
Studio Courses Every Afternoon.
In a fully scaled school, every student attends three Studio Courses daily, each an hour long. These are additional required courses, electives or mandated services. Courses include such diverse offerings as arts and music, foreign language, fitness, advanced sciences and technology, remediation or enrichment, and counseling. Each Studio Course lasts six to eight weeks. This allows students to take many types of courses throughout the year; it also enables the staff to plan courses that adapt to student needs and interests. For scores of students nationwide, youth development and enrichment programs are exactly what motivate them to stay in school. These types of courses are particularly important for students who are at risk for dropping out. By having most of our faculty strategically serve dual roles — teaching Foundation as well as Studio Courses–our schools can offer a much wider variety of courses than a conventional school its size.
Intensive Courses Twice Each Year.
Twice a year for a month at a time, all students participate in rigorous, credit-bearing courses modeled after intersession programs at universities. Built into our expanded 200-day school year, the courses expand essential English and math instruction. They are taught by a team of certified teachers and a guidance counselor who rotate to each grade level throughout the year. The city becomes the classroom: students explore a wide variety of college campuses, corporate boardrooms, community organizations and public services. The Intensive class sizes are small, enabling the faculty to customize instruction and guidance for students and families. The Intensive Courses fundamentally transform the concept of college guidance, preparing students with the academic skills and knowledge they need to be accepted into post-secondary education, and the life skills and experiences to succeed once there. This program benefits every student. Ultimately the program is designed to help all students fully understand their options and to be pushed to achieve at their highest capacity.