Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the tuition to attend this charter school?
There is no tuition to attend. It is a free public charter school.

2. When does school start for the 2012-2013 school year?
2012-2013 opening day is August 6, 2012.

3. Are uniforms required?
Yes, students are required to wear uniforms.

4. What is a typical daily schedule?
Generally, a typical school day schedule is described below:
7:30AM – 8:00AM Before school program (voluntary and fee-based)
7:45AM School is open to all students
8:00AM School day begins
8:00AM – 11:30AM Core Curriculum
– Reading
– Writing Workshop
– Mathematics
– Hands-on Science
9:30AM & 10:15AM Mid-morning breaks
11:30AM – 1:00PM Lunch – exact time depends on section and Recess
12:45PM – 2:15PM Paragon Curriculum – Integrated study of world cultures that incorporates
– History
– Geography
– Art
– Drama
– Music
2:15PM Afternoon Break
2:15PM – 2:50PM Physical Education
2:50PM – 3:30PM Spanish
3:45PM – 4:45PM Afternoon Tutorials (free if prescribed by the teacher)

5. Can you describe how students use computers in your classrooms? On average, how many hours a week is a student spending on a computer?
Technology is used in the classroom throughout the day. Students view the Paragon Images during Paragon time; some use the computer to type up a story that they have written, while others use the Internet to do research. Depending on the amount of time spent on the A+ tutorial software, children average about 30 minutes a day using the computers in the classroom. Some teachers also have the children use the computers to learn to type or to use different math software that the school has purchased.

6. My child has special needs, how do you provide for specialized services like speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy?
Special arrangements will be made to provide these services within the school setting through local resources.

7. Will students receive a hot lunch? If so, what is the cost?
Hot lunch service will be provided at a cost. Parents will be able to complete a form to determine if a child qualifies for a free or reduced–cost lunch service.

8. Describe how disciplinary issues are handled and the general philosophy on discipline.
A code of student conduct has been established by the Board of the Academy. It describes the school’s philosophy on discipline as follows:
“Discipline is the positive direction of behavior toward established standards of conduct, fully understood and based upon reason, judgment and consideration of the rights of others. Ideal discipline is self-directed and self-controlled. Schools, community and parents share the responsibility for helping students develop self-discipline. When self-control falters and self-discipline fails, disciplinary forces from outside the individual must be imposed to protect the rights of others and to ensure uninterrupted instruction by teachers for students.”
This code of conduct also lists the specific behaviors that warrant disciplinary action.

9. The information brochure mentions that parents are expected to volunteer two hours per month. What type of volunteer activity is expected of parents?
Parents are asked to volunteer in areas that meet their skills and interests. The specific tasks vary widely from reading to Kindergarten students to aiding in office duties.

10. Will students have to fundraise for the school?
No, children are not responsible for raising any funds for the school.

11. I understand that a lottery is held if “too many” students apply. How is the lottery handled? How do you ensure that it is fair?
There is a two-week open enrollment period in all schools. During these two weeks, if the number of applicants exceeds the number of spaces in a given grade, a lottery is held. The lottery time and date are set forth in a legal notice in the newspaper during the open enrollment period. The lottery is open to the public. A member of the administrative staff of the school and a member of the Board of Directors are both in attendance at the lottery. First preference is given to siblings of students already enrolled. Once the slots are filled, the remaining names are drawn and put on the waiting list in the order drawn. As spaces are made available in those grades, students are taken from the waiting list. If there is no waiting list in any grade, students are taken on a first-come-first-serve basis.

12. How do you handle the standardized state tests? Are these administered just as they are in the local public schools?
State Tests are administered just like any other public school. We participate in the same tests and use this data to help drive our school improvement.

13. Why should parents be confident that the school’s curriculum would help children excel on the state’s standardized tests?
Parents should feel confident that the school’s curriculum would help a child excel on the state standardized test because our curriculum is aligned to the state standards and benchmarks. It is also important to know that the school uses the Grade Level Content Expectations that have been put out by the state for English Language Arts and Math.

14. Is there any evidence that can be provided to help a parent assess the improvement of students who have been instructed using the school’s curriculum?
One way for parents to assess the improvement of their child is by reviewing the grade level content expectations. A child should know at the end of the school year all of the skills listed in that book in the grade level just completed. Parents can also use report cards as a means of reviewing the improvement of the child. Other reports such as the Parent Report from the national norm-referenced test (the Iowa Test of Basic Skills) and the A+ Tutorial Software results can provide parents with the information needed to see the improvement that a child has made.

15. How does your method of instruction address the variety of learning styles?
Our proprietary curriculum (Paragon) is one of many tools used to tap into the students’ multiple intelligences. We also use Personalized Student Achievement Plans to help clarify and focus on the attainment of specific academic and social goals.

16. I know there is a video on Paragon but I did not get a chance to see it. Can you describe Paragon and its elements?
Paragon Teaches Rich Content Through Hands-on Study
With a hands-on approach, Paragon addresses students’ multiple intelligences and individual learning styles. Through this engaging curriculum, students gain historical information, and come to understand the expansive potential open to them if they can identify with early clarity their individual strengths and sense of purpose.

Rather than teach history in bits and pieces in arbitrary sequence, Paragon’s fully integrated, chronological approach demonstrates to students how one idea builds on and evolves into another. The curriculum illustrates how sweeping cycles repeat and leads students to understand the evolutions of world cultures. In Paragon, students study history across continents, and gain a profound understanding of the manner in which many ideas develop at the same time in independent cultures unaware of the other’s breakthroughs. Through this, students develop a larger picture of history and the associated interrelationships. Rather than memorize names, dates, and events in isolation, students recall the sequential circumstances surrounding these events and remember more readily both factual information and conceptual relevance.

Paragon Curriculum is Practical Because it is Meaningful
Students learn connected networks of knowledge, skills, beliefs, and attitudes that they will find useful both in and outside of school. The significance and meaningfulness of the content is emphasized both in how it is presented to students, how it is developed through activities, and how it is authentically assessed. Step-by-step daily lesson plans are organized around essential questions- questions that have captivated thinkers for millennia and that will continue to fascinate students, thereby connecting them with the content more profoundly, more personally, and more purposefully.

17. What are the “Personalized Learning Plans” and how are they determined?
Each student has a Personalized Learning Plan (PSAP). This plan is a document that the student (if age-appropriate), parents and teacher complete. The teacher, to individualize instruction, uses all information gathered on this document. This document helps in the goal setting process as well as the collection of student data. Every quarter, the parent, teacher and child review this PSAP.
18. How does your curriculum change as students move into Middle School?
In the middle school, the school departmentalizes the instruction. The students have four different teachers that are highly qualified in the content that they are teaching. The students change classes and have more specialized instruction. The middle school curriculum revolves around Paragon and Paragon World Literature for the Humanities block. In Mathematics, the children are working towards the understanding of Algebra. This is a pre-requisite of most high schools before entering into the 9th grade. In Science, the students do more hands on lab instruction and have science experiments that they must complete with an integration of technology (some schools dissect animals online!). In the ELA block, students read novels and use more of a literacy circle approach to instruction. Some of our schools have adopted the writing program My Access to fulfill their writing requirements as well. Electives are offered based upon the school.