Inspiring lifelong leaders
What makes CCA unique compared to other schools in the area?
Central Carolina Academy is uniquely designed as a grades 6-12 school which allows teams of teachers to plan and dialogue together about curriculum and address common social/mental/emotional needs of the students. The school is one unit, not two individual entities. The collegiality created by the collective efforts of the teachers, staff, students, and families on a middle/high school campus will be a key to CCA’s success.
Do we need another charter school in Lee County?
As Lee County continues to grow economically and residentially, the need for more schools will grow. Central Carolina Academy will provide parents and students with expanded choices in the types of educational opportunities that are available within the public school system. The model being replicated contains elements of an early college, a middle college, and a traditional high school. Lee County Schools has a well-established early college and two traditional high schools, each with its own special appeal. Charter schools add a dimension to the public school offerings in a community to meet an evolving demand by families for options and finding the right “fit” for their students.
What does instruction look like at CCA?
The instructional program for Central Carolina Academy is designed to prepare students to be globally competitive by entering the job market in a highly skilled position, going to a two- or four-year college/university, or joining the military with an increased rank due to the number of credits earned before graduating high school. To accomplish this, the school will work from a “keeping the end in mind” mentality. If students are to be prepared for college coursework during their eleventh and twelfth-grade years, there is much to be done starting in sixth grade.
The Depth of Knowledge (DOK) framework will be a core instructional strategy used to ensure differentiation of instructional strategies. While the school is focused on teaching at a high level, teachers will need to have scaffold support structures in place for students who are struggling, and will also need to push students who are excelling to expect more from themselves. The DOK framework is a great tool for teachers to use when forming question stems, creating projects, or when creating test questions. The goal is for teachers to be intentional with the strategies they choose to meet the challenge of differentiating instruction for their students. The goal, over time, is for students to direct their own learning while the teacher provides the framework, direction, and academic outcomes.
What is the “end-in-mind“ approach?
The “end-in-mind” approach extends from curriculum design into daily instructional approaches in each classroom. Lesson planning and instruction will be founded strictly upon curriculum standards as will assessments. Furthermore, those assessments will not serve merely as a “grade” to document student achievement (or lack thereof), but more importantly as a tool to determine the level of knowledge and the need for subsequent redirection of instruction. This approach of mastery learning leads both students and staff to a culture of high academic achievement, with a primary factor being that reteaching, redirection and retesting help eliminate contentment with mediocrity for both students and staff. Oftentimes, in larger less personalized instructional settings at traditional schools, some students find it easy to fall through the proverbial educational cracks. At CCA, however, all students will take ownership of their own learning, and staff norms and expectations will cultivate a climate in which multiple stakeholders ensure success for each student.
What is the ”unwritten curriculum”?
The “unwritten curriculum” delves into time management, study skills, prioritization, how to speak to adults, and how to work with others. These concepts will be interwoven into daily lessons and will continue to be professional development opportunities for teachers because of the importance they play in everyday life.
What does the academic calendar look like?
With the school’s college preparatory mission and education plan, the school year calendar will correlate with the community college calendar in order for eleventh and twelfth graders to balance the schedules of high school and college courses. Having a school year calendar with a first semester that ends in mid-December will allow high school first-semester final exams (including state assessments) to be administered in December.
What does the daily schedule look like for middle school students?
The middle school day will begin at 8:00 am and end at 3:05 pm for sixth graders and 3:15 pm for seventh and eighth-graders. Core subject lengths in the middle school grades range from 70-85 minutes daily. Elective classes last from 45-60 minutes. The sixth grade will have the same electives the entire school year. Seventh and eighth grades will have a total of four electives, two each semester. Doing so allows sixth graders to acclimate to heightened academic expectations in elective classes over the course of a year as they transition to middle school. The elective format for seventh and eighth graders gives them experience prior to high school in taking semester-long courses.
What does the daily schedule look like for high school students?
The high school day (8:00 am-3:00 pm) is consistent every day for high school courses taught on a 90-minute block schedule. In future years, upperclassmen (11th and 12th graders) taking a mixture of high school and community college courses will have variations day-to-day due to the college classes following a typical college model of scheduling. For instance, a junior could have a seated high school elective first period, seated high school Chemistry second period, and a rotation of two to three college courses on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday and Tuesday/Thursday schedule during the second half of the school day. The high school master schedule will be designed with careful consideration of the community college partnership in order to maximize the Career and College Promise pathways. By beginning the high school day thirty minutes after the middle school day, the upper-level students have time to volunteer in the middle grades. Academic support and mentorship can be an incredibly strong resource within the middle school campus. Endeavors like these help in creating a culture of connectedness which is crucial for the overall mission of the school.
How will CCA identify and meet the learning needs of students who are performing below grade level?
Central Carolina Academy is committed to teaching students at high levels and engaging students in meaningful ways. When students struggle to reach the standard, teachers will employ scaffolding techniques aimed at meeting students where they are and then move them forward. Staff will do extensive research and training with Depth of Knowledge (DOK) strategies and will also use Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) to help teachers identify support techniques needed for student interventions. The K-8 teachers will use a variety of benchmark techniques, including but not limited to, Renaissance Learning (Star Reading and Math), CASE TE21, and daily instructional assessments to identify the learning needs of the students. When necessary, tutoring will be provided by staff and peers in an effort to assist struggling students with their work. High school teachers in core subjects will also use benchmark data from CASE TE21 and daily work and grades to identify students who are at risk of falling behind. Ninth and tenth-grade students will be given the opportunity to meet with teachers before school or during lunch to get extra assistance with unmastered concepts. Once students enter the eleventh and twelfth grades and begin taking courses at the community college, two teachers will be assigned to monitor the students when they are not in seated college classes. These two teachers will assist students with scheduling meetings with college staff when necessary and will work to direct students toward any resources found on the college campus, such as resource/tutoring labs. These teachers will also be responsible for monitoring student grades on a weekly basis. If students begin to approach 70% in any course, measures will be put in place to help students focus on prioritizing assignments, managing time, and breaking down information to better prepare for class and tests. If strategies, including MTSS, are unsuccessful, students will be referred for further testing which may include Exceptional Children services.
How will CCA identify and meet the needs of gifted students?
The AIG plan is built into the overall curriculum model which drives all students toward all college courses by eleventh grade. Teachers at Central Carolina Academy will teach all students as if they were academically gifted and provide scaffold support when students struggle to meet expectations. In this way, it is expected that all students will strive to reach their full potential. MTSS and DOK strategies will be used to individualize plans for students who continually exceed expectations and need differentiated instruction to meet their needs. Students may even use alternative scheduling to take courses that meet their academic needs.
How does CCA plan to serve special populations?
The school will hire faculty with expertise in working with special populations and “at risk” students. The number and specific types will reflect the needs of the student population. The administration and staff at the school being replicated, Chatham Charter, have extensive experience in working with special populations and have a strong track record of helping students at risk of dropping out find avenues of academic success that prevent them from dropping out of school. The Chatham Charter support level would be strong as Central Carolina Academy opens and establishes equally solid practices in meeting varied student needs. Staff will work with families to identify special populations and “at-risk” students upon acceptance into the school. If students come from other schools with specialized plans, a team will review them and determine how to best update and implement student needs. Decisions will be guided by previous data, input from students and families, and additional testing as needed. Once a school year begins, if teachers, parents/guardians, or students themselves raise concerns, a referral system will be in place to assess areas of concern and react appropriately to meet student needs.
How does the admissions lottery work?
If a lottery is needed, a publicly held drawing will take place approximately two weeks after the application process closes. Potential students do not have to be present to be accepted. The students in the lottery will be notified by email of their acceptance or placement on the waiting list. Prospective students will have ten days to respond to their acceptance letter. A lottery will only be used if more students apply for admission than can be enrolled per grade level.