Concept Schools (CS) six core values (guide its interactions with all members of the school community):
- Respect – All members of the CS community (students, parents, and staff) have equal worth and should be treated with respect.
- Responsibility – All people have choices, and teachers, parents, and students should be responsible for their actions.
- Integrity – Belonging to a community requires a commitment to the common good. The community is stronger when everyone can be counted upon, to be honest, and trustworthy.
- Courage – Having the courage to try new things expands minds and causes students, parents, and staff to reach beyond their own expectations.
- Curiosity – The ability to wonder and to create connections stimulates further learning. At CS, the inquiry will be fostered on the part of parents, staff, and students.
- Effort – Success is accomplished when students, family, and staff are willing to do what it takes to accomplish their vision of the future.
Culture and Philosophy
“Failure is not possible unless you really want to fail.” – Edwards Capp, junior at Horizon Science Academy Cleveland High School
Perhaps this student’s quote best describes the culture and philosophy of CS. The success of students, parents, and staff who work hard and achieve success are recognized and celebrated!
The core features of CS are based on ten features of good small schools outlined in Redesigning High Schools: What Matters and What Works (2002), a publication of the School Redesign Network at Stanford University. The core features of CS include:
- Personalized approach
- Continuous relationships
- High standards and performance-based assessments
- Adaptive pedagogy
- Multi-cultural teaching
- Knowledgeable and skilled teachers
- Collaborative planning and professional development
- Family and community connections
- Democratic decision-making
- Authentic curriculum
The CS is dedicated to providing a diverse population of students with an outstanding education focused on math, science, and technology. The curriculum is designed to ensure 100% student proficiency on state standards in math, science and English Language Arts as well as a 100% graduation rate and acceptance into college.
CS implements a standards-based, college-preparatory curriculum giving the staff flexibility to adapt instructional strategies in order to meet the needs of the students. The curriculum is based on a model developed and successfully implemented by Concept Schools in 19 charter schools in 4 states (Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan). All parts of the CS curriculum is fully aligned with State Learning Standards.
Curriculum maps and unit plans provide the framework for the detailed weekly lesson plans that the teachers will complete with their grade-level partners. A shared drive will make plans accessible for reference by students and staff. These plans will specify the daily activities and assessments that teachers will use to teach and measure progress and to ensure that all homework and classwork are aligned to standards.
Middle School Curriculum
Below is the middle school sequence with total weekly instructional time:
|Subject||Minutes of Instruction|
|Mathematics||450 minutes a week (90 minutes a day)|
|English Language Arts||450 minutes a week (90 minutes a day)|
|Science||225 minutes a week (45 minutes a day)|
|Social Studies||225 minutes a week (45 minutes a day)|
|Art||135 minutes a week (3 times a week of 45 minutes)|
|Computer||135 minutes a week (3 times a week of 45 minutes)|
|Physical Education/Health||135 minutes a week (3 times a week of 45 minutes)|
|Life Skills||45 minutes a week|
|Total||1800 minutes a week|
Enrollment: Average class size: 24
The academic program provides new challenges and solid support, with both advanced and basic skills classes available in selected subjects. Course placements are made in consultation with students, parents, the Middle School counselor, and the sixth-grade teacher.
The study of literature in grades 6-8 encompasses analysis and discussion of the literature of various genres. A great deal of emphasis is placed on the writing process – prewriting, drafting, revision according to standard usage and mechanics, and final copy. Students are placed in advanced, college preparatory, or skills classes, depending on their ability and prior performance in language arts.
The Middle School’s mathematics curriculum covers the full range of mathematical topics, with a particular emphasis on the use of a variety of strategies in formulating and solving problems. Students are placed in advanced, accelerated, college preparatory, or standard classes, depending on their ability and prior performance in mathematics. Advanced and accelerated students may complete Algebra I in eighth grade.
To promote the scientific literacy necessary to function in the 21st century, the Middle School provides an overview of the life and earth sciences. The laboratory is an integral part of all science instruction as a place to practice the experimental method and obtain hands-on experience. Students are placed in advanced, college preparatory, or skills classes, depending on their ability and prior performance.
Social studies at the Middle School challenge students to assess and interpret, and they provide a framework for the development of personal and citizenship responsibilities. The seventh-grade course covers the Ohio government and world-regional geography. The eighth-grade course consists of a chronological survey of United States history.
Students at the Middle School take either a foreign language or reading as part of their language arts requirement. Students whose skills in English are sound may take two years of Turkish, Spanish. For students who need reinforcement of skills and practice in reading, writing and speaking in English, the reading curriculum is offered in grades 6-8.
The Middle School’s Library Media Center is open for classes and individual students to visit as needed during the school day. Students are encouraged to read for enjoyment as well as to use the library media center’s broad array of information resources. All students are given formal instruction in the use of print and electronic reference resources.
Physical Education and Health
The physical education program, taking advantage of the Gymnasium and the athletic field, gives students opportunities to improve their agility, flexibility, strength, endurance, and skills through participation in various activities. The health curriculum stresses the prevention and reduction of health risks. Students are encouraged to make responsible and informed decisions about diet, exercise, safety, sexual activity, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use.
In keeping with the Concept Schools’ tradition of a superb music program, Gateway Science Academy offers students a variety of ways to develop their musical talents and interests. Performing ensembles include chorus, string orchestra, symphonic band, concert band, cadet band, and jazz ensemble. Students in all instrumental programs receive instruction twice during the week. General music classes provide an overview of the elements of music and a survey of musical styles, with the objective of helping students become discerning listeners.
To the degree possible, students with special needs are served in regular classes, with appropriate support from tutors and other specialists in learning disabilities, positive behavior, and developmental handicaps. For those who require a self-contained environment in mathematics and English, intervention classes provide individualized and small-group instruction.
High School Curriculum
High school graduation requirements exceed traditional public schools and include service-learning and a senior thesis. In order to earn a diploma, each high school student must meet all of the following requirements. Only students earning a diploma are permitted to participate in graduation activities. The high school curriculum will continue to undergo design refinements prior to the first ninth-grade class entering CS so that the minimum high school course requirements provide students with the opportunity to meet the entrance requirements for top-tiered colleges and universities.
You can download the high school graduation requirements from the above link.
Rather than adhering to a single teaching philosophy or instructional model, the design will draw on best practices from the field and research to define a set of core instructional practices. CS teachers will utilize a unique mix of the following research-based instructional strategies:
- Direct teaching
- Differentiated instruction
- Problem-based learning
- Project-based learning
- Collaborative learning
- Data-driven instruction
- Transformational use of technology
The use of these techniques provides an engaging, dynamic learning environment for students to explore the questions they have about the world and ways to positively contribute to the world around them. CS will utilize a variety of instructional approaches to teaching advanced concepts and thinking skills in mathematics and science, as well as other disciplines.
CS uses a combination of diagnostic, authentic, state-mandated standardized tests, and nationally recognized norm-referenced assessments to compare students’ progress over time with the school’s goals. These assessments include:
- Northwest Education Association (NWEA) Measure of Academic Progress (MAP)
- ACT’s Explore and Plan
- State Standardized Tests
In addition, Concept Schools have designed and used interim assessments that are aligned with the Illinois standards and mirror the state tests. Within a few days of the test, data from the interim assessments will be analyzed and uploaded to the online database created by Concept Schools. Teams of CS teachers will review the analysis from the interim assessments and develop specific strategies to address the students’ learning deficiencies.
Remediation & Intervention
The students entering the school possess a wide range of skills. The extended day and school year, a rigorous program of study, extra programming, and parental involvement will be critical if the students are to achieve all academic goals.
Once enrolled at CS, students will be required to take diagnostic tests focusing on mathematics and reading. The results of these tests will be analyzed by the administration and staff to understand each student’s needs and to create a personalized education plan.
The following academic support programs will be provided:
- Before- and after-school tutoring
- Saturday schools
- Pull-out programs
- Winter and Summer Academic Camps
- Peer tutoring
- Lunch and recess learning programs
- Buckle-Down Institutes
CS uses a combination of the following tools to identify and assess accelerated students:
- Grade level diagnostic tests created by Concept Schools
- Past performance in standardized tests
- NWEA test
- Concept Schools Interim Assessment
- Teacher recommendation
- Any prior evaluation by professional organizations/individuals presented by parents
- Class Performance
CS teachers differentiate their instruction by content, process, and product in order to meet the needs of accelerated students. CS teachers receive training in differentiated instruction at the Summer Institute, Concept Schools’ annual conference, and professional development days. The dean of academics monitors lesson plans and observe in the classroom to ensure that teachers differentiate instruction.
High school students requiring acceleration are enrolled in academically challenging Mathematics and English Language Arts classes. Students have the opportunity to take AP courses, dual-credit courses, and courses offered through Virtual High School. Accelerated students may have the opportunity for early graduation.
Accelerated students have the opportunity to participate in special interest after-school programs. These programs have a project-based, challenging curriculum and provide students the opportunity to participate in local, national, and international competitions. Examples of programs/activities include Math Counts, Math League, robotics team, science fairs, Olympiads, bridge building, Destination Imagination, and Word Masters. CS also organizes winter and summer programs for accelerated students in order to meet their needs and challenge them to perform to their full potential.
Parental Involvement Plan
Parental or family involvement is essential to the school’s mission and student success. The following actions will contribute to an effective school-parent/family partnership:
- The school publishes a clear policy welcoming parental involvement and post opportunities to become involved in an obvious place in the school building and on the school’s Web site.
- Teachers conduct home visits with parents to enhance parent education and build stronger relationships between students, parents, and teachers.
- The school provides parent/family education programs
- The school office is trained in customer service skills to ensure that they present a friendly and open environment. Parents/families are treated with respect and are not kept waiting unnecessarily.
- The school’s Web site provides clear and consistent communication. Parents/families access to daily homework assignments, grades, attendance, and other information via the school’s secure Web page.
- The school recognizes the contribution of parents in their children’s success by organizing events, such as the Honor Roll Parent Dinner.
- The school sets up a parent area in the school building, equipped with a comfortable seating area, a telephone, copy machine, computers, books on adolescents, etc.
- The school provides translated materials and/or in-person contact with parents whose primary language is not English. Translators are involved in all parent-teacher interactions as needed.
As a college preparatory school, the CS ensures that students gain the necessary skills not only for a successful college education but also for a successful career. Therefore, several components in the design integrate career education and exploration within the curriculum such as life skills curriculum, job shadowing, summer internships, senior thesis, career and college fairs, college path courses, and other elective courses.
CS has a dedicated Technology person to assist faculty members at the school in enhancing learning through technology. Technology instruction at CS emphasizes content learning while strengthening the technology skills of students, teachers, and staff. Teachers use these methods and tools in to order enhance instruction in the content areas:
- Collaborative Environments, i.e. social networking platforms, community Web sites, classroom management systems, multiplayer gaming environments, or virtual worlds
- Online Communication Tools, i.e. instant messaging, online conferencing, micro-blogging platforms, and online broadcasting
- Mobiles, graphing calculators, and laptops
- Cloud Computing, i.e. Flicker, Google, and YouTube, which are virtual servers available over the Internet
- Smart Boards
- Smart Objects, i.e. devices that use quick response codes and are connected to larger information sources or interactive books and maps
- Personalized Web pages, blogs, and blackboard-type online communication tools through which teachers can tag, categorize, publish, and review work online
- Virtual learning
Co-curricular programs play a significant role in the culture of the school. Students are engaged in projects and activities before and after school. CS students participate in five main categories of events – clubs, special interest groups, annual school-wide events, field trips, and sports.
School Culture and Climate
CS focuses on establishing a culture that values and celebrates success, teaches shared values, sets high expectations, builds pride, and fosters a sense of community and belonging. The culture and climate of the school incorporate five essential attributes:
- Focus on Student Achievement
- High Expectations
Serving Specialized Population
Special education programs and services at CS are provided in accordance with federal and state laws and regulations as well as the individual student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The CS faculty and administration work collaboratively with the district or other companies in providing high-quality services to students with disabilities. A Special Education Coordinator is responsible for conducting IEP meetings to assess, review and revise IEP’s. Auxiliary and related services identified through the IEP (such as speech and language service or physical therapy for example) are provided by the District or special companies.
Students with disabilities have an equal opportunity with students in the regular education program to participate in, and where appropriate, receive credit for non-academic, extracurricular and ancillary programs, services, and activities. Students with disabilities receive the same notices concerning school-sponsored programs, activities, and services as other students.
Providing a healthy culture that promotes safety, security, strong relationships, and a sense of belonging are some of the most critical components for providing a framework to support students with at-risk characteristics. Within this type of environment, students feel secure in approaching faculty and support staff for assistance.
Students at the CS with limited proficiency in English achieve proficiency in the English language through the use of the school’s services and teaching methods. CS hires at least one certified ESL teacher and adapts staffing according to the student population. CS ensures that ELL (English Language Learner) students will not be excluded from curricular and extracurricular activities based on an inability to speak and understand the language of instruction. Parents whose English proficiency is limited to receive notices and information from the school in their native language so that CS is able to encourage the participation of all parents in the CS community.