We believe students learn in an environment that encourages inquiry and dialogue around State Standards, that values and builds on prior knowledge and that nurtures and supports the whole child. The Charter School provides an environment where accountability, flexibility, innovation, parental choice, parent teacher involvement, and public-private partnerships can work together to provide a better future for our children. The Charter School will embrace, celebrate and benefit from the ethnic, linguistic and the socioeconomic diversity of our ever changing community by promoting family, school, and community partnerships.
What it Means to be an Educated Person in the 21st Century
Educated persons will possess skills to create, analyze, problem solve, and innovate. The workplace has shifted from the factory model to a model emphasizing critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication. The availability of information on the internet and access to information due to advances in technology has changed the definition of what it means to be an educated person in the 21st century. Value is on people’s skills rather than what knowledge they possess. Education is responding to the shift from the old factory, knowledge based economy to a skills based economy. Schools need to teach foundational skills and soft skills. Students need opportunities to practice these soft skills of critical thinking, collaborating, creating, and communicating.
The educated persons of the 21st century will:
• have strong foundational skills in literacy, writing, math, history and civic education, and science
• have a foundational understanding in technology use, application, and adapt to changes in technology
• appreciate how the arts add value
• understand western and world cultures both present and historic and the importance of diversity in society
• be able to think critically, collaborate, create, and communicate in society and the global economy
• be a lifelong learner
• practice personal responsibility for their own actions RCS goals include the objective of enabling pupils to become self-motivated, competent, and lifelong learners. How Learning Best Occurs Ridgecrest Charter School educational program is based upon the understanding that learning best occurs:
• in a small and nurturing environment that values and builds upon students’ prior knowledge and experiences
• where students are active participants in their education
• using a rigorous, inquiry based curriculum
• when students have opportunities to construct meaning through questioning, problem solving and discovery
• when children feel safe
• in a positive and supportive environment with accountability and high expectations
• when parents have opportunities to actively participate in school activities and decisions
• when teachers are qualified and part of a positive and supportive culture;
• when the needs of all students are met through differentiated instruction
Instructional Program and Curriculum
The educational program includes a multi-instructional strategies approach that meet the personal learning needs of our students. Teachers utilize explicit direct instruction and project based learning using the design thinking process to teach and reinforce content and skills. We provide additional instructional support through in-school reading intervention, in-school small group instruction, in-school RTI, and after school tutoring. The core curriculum is research-based, State Standards aligned. Our instructional program and curriculum is structured to provide learning opportunities that create literate, self-reliant, and confident learners. Age and developmentally appropriate homework is assigned to reinforce learning.
Our instructional program and curriculum is designed to cultivate student academic and social-emotional growth and development. Special Education students’ growth expectations are reflected in each of their Individualized Education Programs. Ridgecrest Charter School’s educational program emphasizes formative assessment, data driven instruction, and pacing plans to improve student learning. Pacing plans guide and define the scope and sequence of the curriculum taught in our school with regard to the 4 core subject areas of English Language Arts, math, science, and social science. Students participate in benchmark assessments 3 times during the school year to measure student growth. Instructional Delivery Elementary classrooms, students in grades TK- 5, are self-contained. Middle school classrooms, students in grades 6-8, are departmentalized. Middle school teachers have single subject credentials or multiple subject credentials with single subject supplemental authorizations. Subjects for middle school include foundational mathematics, English-Language Arts, foundational science, physical education, design and modeling, and history-social science, RCS teachers use a variety of instructional strategies to meet the diverse learning needs of our students. The use of strategies is based on the subject, standard, and skills being taught and the class and individual learning needs.
Instructional strategies employed include:
Explicit Direct Instruction: the teacher communicates the objective to the class, presents the lesson which includes modeling, guided practice, independent practice, checking for understanding, and closure of the lesson. At the conclusion, students show what was learned which also informs the teacher what needs to be re-taught.
Inquiry Based Instruction: the teacher acts more as a facilitator and students are presented with a question, or problem and students answer the question or create solutions for the problem through investigation and research.
Project Based Instruction: the teacher facilitates the project and students research and investigate complex problems or questions and develop a finished product of answers or solutions to the proposed problems or questions. Projects require students to use cross-curricular skills and to collaborate, communicate, think creatively, and create to propose answers and solutions. During the 2017-18 school year, design thinking principles were introduced to middle school students through the design and modeling class and will be fully introduced to elementary students during the 2018-19 school year.
Response to Instruction: using skills-based formative assessments, students are placed in strategic groups and work with the teacher and paraprofessionals on targeted skills-based intervention and enrichment. Groups are adjusted every 4-6 weeks based on students’ needs as indicated on assessments. RCS uses a combination of state adopted programs and curriculum and supplemental resources and programs to help students learn foundational skills, higher‐order thinking skills, and life‐skills. The curriculum and supplemental resources are research‐based and been successful with elementary and middle school students.
English-Language Arts: Students learn to communicate ideas clearly and effectively through speech and writing appropriate to audience and purpose. Oral reports and debates and writing addressing prompts are used. Students learn to examine elements of various texts and to demonstrate critical reading and active listening skills in order to comprehend, interpret, and analyze ideas. Students learn to write for purpose and audience including narrative, persuasive, descriptive, and expository writing. Reading instruction focuses on phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, and text comprehension. TK‐6 literacy instruction uses the McGraw Hill materials as the foundation of literacy instruction. RCS implemented the Daily 5 literacy program to provide additional structured time for reading and writing practice and intervention. Writing throughout TK-8 grades is supplemented with vocabulary and instruction based on the Six Traits of Writing, and beginning in the 2018-19 school year will teach writing instruction using the Write from the Beginning program. Grades 6-8 also use McGraw Hill materials and California’s Recommended Literature list for the core of its English Language Arts program. TK-8 grades incorporate informational and non‐fiction texts into the English-Language Arts program.
Social Science: Students learn to be historically literate and to become active, informed citizens. Using the California History-Social Science framework, students learn about different communities, cultures, political systems, economic systems, and political policies and analyze how history has shaped California, the United States, and the world. Students learn to evaluate resources, particularly primary and secondary sources, and learn how historical literature can influence history. Students learn how to apply analyze history and apply historical knowledge to local and global situations in order to comprehend contexts and events, predict and evaluate the outcomes of human actions, and act responsibly as world citizens. Students learn to apply chronological, thematic and integrative thinking, develop and test hypotheses about cause and effect, gather evidence to support conclusions, use methods of historiography, conduct in‐depth and relevant research, critically examine sources, and synthesize ideas. Throughout the K‐8 instructional program, social science and English-language arts are interwoven and are used with literacy and writing instruction.
Mathematics: Students learn foundational math knowledge and skills that include numbers, place value, whole number operations, fractions and decimals, and problem solving. Students acquire a conceptual knowledge and understanding of math and the necessary skills to investigate and problem solve. RCS provides an uninterrupted block of math instruction and practice in elementary classrooms and small class sizes to increase students understanding in mathematics. Individual needs of students are met in both the elementary classrooms and in the middle school setting through differentiation and placement. Elementary students who have demonstrated a readiness for more advanced math instruction are advanced to the appropriate grade level for math instruction. Middle school students have 6 math course options based on their demonstrated need: 6th grade CCSS, 7th grade CCSS, 8th grade CCSS, pre-algebra, algebra, and geometry.
Science: Students learn the foundational concepts and application of biology, chemistry, physics, and geology. Students utilize scientific research and inquiry methods to conduct investigations and problem‐solve. RCS uses a state adopted curriculum and supplemental resources to help teach students about scientific principles and opportunities to apply scientific knowledge. Supplemental resources include local organizations, field trips, presentations, events, and guest speakers.
Music (TK-8): Students learn music theory, how to sing, and movements appropriate to their developmental level. All students learn how to read, write, and sing the 7 notes of music. Students also learn preparations for music performance. Urban Art (Elective 6-8): Students learn various urban art forms including graffiti art, installation art, upcycling art, and mural art. Students will learn the influences and history behind different art forms and experiment with the basic elements of art including sketching and 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional formats.
Odyssey of the Mind (Elective 6-8): This international creative problem-solving program provides opportunities for students to engage in creative problem solving. Students practice critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills in this elective. Students work in teams to creatively solve a long term problem. Teams compete in the annual regional competition in Fresno in February.
Peer Tutoring (Elective 6-8): Students in grades 6-8 are assigned an elementary classroom to tutor elementary students in reading and math.
Design and Modeling (6-8): Using the Project Lead the Way curriculum, students learn design and modeling principles and apply these principles to various problems and projects. All middle school students take this course. Project Lead the Way (TK-5): This class was introduced during the 2017-18 school year and will be fully implemented and offered to all TK-5 students. Students learn design and engineering principles and apply them to various problems and projects. Each grade level has a scientific focus and module to teach the Project Lead the Way curriculum. The following modules were used during the 2017-18 school year: Infection: Detection; Structure and Function: Human Body; Light: Observing the Sun, Moon, and Stars; and Form and Function.
History of Film (Elective 6-8): This class is an introduction to film history covering the period 1895-1941. Students learn the major industrial, technological, aesthetic, and cultural developments in motion picture history. Topics include the invention of motion pictures, the establishment of a film industry and audience, developments in the use of cinematic technique, the history of theatrical film exhibition, the establishment of national cinemas, the idea of film as art, changing notions of cinematic realism and its alternatives, and technological innovation (widespread adoption of synchronized sound).
Academic Support and Intervention (Elective 6-8): This class is designed to provided academic counseling, academic assistance, and reading intervention to students. Teachers work with students to review their grades and set goals, provide academic support through homework help, and reading intervention utilizing supplemental programs.
Service Learning (Elective 6-8): This class uses the design thinking principles of empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test in addressing school and community issues. During the 2017-18 school year, students repaired tricycles and filmed PBIS videos.
Spanish (Elective 6-8; TK-5): Students will learn the fundamentals of Spanish language structure, pronunciations, grammar, vocabulary, idioms and phrases. Students will also work with Spanish texts to develop an understanding and appreciation of Spanish‐speaking cultures. RCS plans to extend Spanish Language instruction to students in grades TK-5 during the 2019-20 school year.
Millionaires’ Club (elective 6-8): Students will learn financial literacy through lessons, activities, and projects. Through a partnership with a local credit union, curriculum materials are provided by the National Endowment for Financial Education. Lessons and activities focus on personal finances, budgeting, investing, and entrepreneurialism. This club allow students to practice soft skills through participating in an entrepreneurial project.
Technology: Ridgecrest Charter School recognizes access and technology literacy is essential in preparing students for secondary and post-secondary education and the workforce. RCS is addressing this need by providing resources and access to technology during and after school. Students have opportunities to practice using on-line learning platforms such as Google classroom, Microsoft Office, iReady, Lexia, Prodigy, Accelerated Math and Accelerated Reader, FastMath, Typing Agent, NWEA assessments, on-line textbooks, and Project Lead the Way design. We understand internet access for many families is limited and therefore provide after school computer access to students 3 times each week. During the 2017-18 school year, RCS purchased 90 laptop computers and 25 iPads. Each elementary classroom has 5 laptop computers for student use and 4 middle school classrooms have laptop carts with a minimum of 30 computers per cart. Elementary students have computer lab/library for one hour each week. Students practice their typing skills, utilize on-line learning platforms, and learn about netiquette and internet safety during computer lab. RCS has one roving computer cart with at least 30 laptop computers and one iPad cart with 25 iPads available for elementary teachers to utilize with their students. Students practice analysis of sources, research skills, and produce final products using PCs and iPads. Each teacher has a laptop computer, document camera, and projector. Student academic progress and behavior is monitored using the Aeries student information system. Teachers receive on-going support and training for learning platforms and computer use. During the 2016-17 school year, RCS hired an Information Technology technician to provide hardware and software support and training. Our LCAP includes the following goals for technology:
• maintenance of hardware
• maintenance and evaluation of software
• purchase of new software • purchase of new hardware
• maintenance and replacement, as needed, of access points, storage, and server
• maintenance and upgrade, when needed, of Wi-Fi and internet speed
School Calendar and Bell Schedule
The Charter School exceeds the annual instructional minutes requirements of Education Code Section 47612.5(a)(1).The Charter School offers 180 days of instruction annually.
Students needing to be academically challenged through enrichment, the Individual Learning Plan will include extension opportunities that promote further development of soft skills and opportunities, peer tutoring, scaffolded and differentiated projects and assignments to meet the needs of advanced learners. Personal Learning Plans for middle school students in grades 6-8 differ from Individual Learning Plans in student involvement. Whereas ILPs are teacher created, PLPs are student created portfolios with teacher guidance. PLPs include student created long and short learning and behavior goals with documented evidence supporting students’ goals. PLPs are designed to help students take ownership of their learning and motivate students. When the ILP or PLP is not meeting the educational needs of the student and the teacher(s) have met with parents and students to modify the plan, the student will be referred to the Student Study Team. The Student Study Team uses a systematic problem-solving approach utilizing teachers, administrators, parents, the student, counselors, psychologists, relatives, and community persons. The Student Study Team is not a prerequisite to evaluation for special education eligibility.
Support for Students Achieving Below Grade Level Ridgecrest Charter School is a growth focused school. We have high expectations for all students and are committed to working with students who are not meeting outcomes to help them achieve at expected levels. Formative, summative, and benchmark assessments are used to identify struggling students. Students who perform below the acceptable level may receive a mix of intervention services, including: in‐class individual tutoring by classroom teachers; in‐class small group tutoring by classroom teachers; before‐or after‐school tutoring by non‐classroom educators in a one‐on‐one or in small groups; participation in a specialized support class taught by a literacy specialist or other educator.
Students targeted for additional intervention will include, but are not limited to, students who meet the following criteria:
• Assessment Criteria for Additional Intervention
• CAASPP – ELA or Math Nearly Meeting or Not Meeting Standards
• Not at grade level
• Parent Recommendation
• Teacher Recommendation uses the Response to Intervention (“RtI”) framework to support all students below grade level. RtI is a process by which schools are proactive and universal in assessing students’ academic, behavioral and socio‐emotional development needs and providing students with timely, targeted and effective research‐based interventions. The interventions involve classroom differentiation, specific interventions and additional services, including special education services. Ridgecrest Charter School’s RtI framework strives to offer a comprehensive approach to assessing, supporting and monitoring the progress of all students. RtI’s framework encompasses and extends RCS’s data driven, student‐focused approach to instruction and student support, and encourages us to deepen coordination across our core classroom, intervention, special education and non‐ academic services. Support for Students Achieving Above Grade Level RCS’s Instructional Guidelines are designed to differentiate and individualize instruction for students at different levels. Instruction, assignments and projects are differentiated to extend learning for students above grade level. Formative, summative, and benchmark assessments are used to identify students performing above grade level. For example, one student reading at grade level can sit next to another student doing the same activity at three grade levels higher. Small class sizes and looping assist with differentiation of instruction because classroom teachers understand each individual student’s needs. Students achieving above grade level can be accelerated to a higher grade level for math or English-Language Arts at the discretion of the parent and C.E.O/Superintendent or designee.
Plan for English Learners Overview Ridgecrest Charter School will meet all applicable legal requirements for English Learners (“EL”), including long-term English Learners or English Learners at risk of becoming long-term English Learners, as they pertain to annual notification to parents, student identification, placement, program options, EL and core content instruction, teacher qualifications and training, re-classification to fluent English proficient status, monitoring and evaluating program effectiveness, and standardized testing requirement. RCS will implement policies to assure proper placement, evaluation, and communication regarding EL’s and the rights of students and parents. Home Language Survey In order to ensure all English Language Learners are identified, Ridgecrest Charter School will administer the home language survey to all students upon initial enrollment into the Charter School (on enrollment forms). English Language Proficiency Assessment All students who indicate that their home language is a language other than English will be tested with the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (“ELPAC”).
The ELPAC has four proficiency levels
(Level 4: well developed; Level 3: moderately developed
Level 2: somewhat developed
Level 1: minimally developed or within 60 calendar days before the date of first enrollment, but not before July 1 of that school year.
The SA testing window will be a four-month window after January 1 (February 1–May 31). The English language proficiency of all currently enrolled English Learners shall be assessed by administering the test during the annual assessment window. RCS will notify all parents of its responsibility for ELPAC testing and of ELPAC results within thirty days of receiving results from publisher. The ELPAC shall be used to fulfill the requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act for annual English proficiency testing. Reclassification Procedures Reclassification procedures utilize multiple criteria in determining whether to classify a pupil as proficient in English including, but not limited to, all of the following:
• Assessment of language proficiency using an objective assessment instrument including, but not limited to the ELPAC;
• Participation of the pupil’s classroom teachers and any other certificated staff with direct responsibility for teaching or placement decisions of the pupil to evaluate the pupil’s curriculum mastery;
• Parental opinion and consultation, achieved through notice to parents or guardians of the language reclassification and placement including a description of the reclassification process and the parents opportunity to participate, and encouragement of the participation of parents or guardians in the reclassification procedure including seeking their opinion and consultation during the reclassification process;
• Comparison of the pupil’s performance in basic skills against an empirically established range of performance and basic skills based upon the performance of English proficient pupils of the same age that demonstrate to others that the pupil is sufficiently proficient in English to participate effectively in a curriculum designed for pupils of the same age whose native language is English; and
• An English Language Development Progress Report for grades TK-5 and a progress report for grades 6-8 is used to measure student progress regarding comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar usage. Strategies for English Learner Instruction and Intervention Teachers will be trained to use integrated ELD techniques to meet the needs of English Language Learners. All Ridgecrest Charter School teachers are Cross cultural, Language, and Academic Development (“CLAD”) (or any California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (“CCTC”) equivalent) certified.
Specific Strategies include:
• realia (real objects and materials)
• manipulatives (drawings, posters, brainstorming-clusters, graphs, tables, maps, props, multimedia presentations, storyboards, story maps)
• visuals *(study-prints, text book illustrations, overhead-projected prints, reproductions of paintings and documents, and documents)
• graphic organizers (matrices, Venn diagrams, Thinking Maps, and webs)
• planned opportunities for interaction between all individuals in classrooms All teachers will be given professional development in teaching English Learners in their appropriate content areas. Monitoring and Evaluation of Program Effectiveness RCS’s use of achievement data will also drive the instruction and professional developments as it relates to English learners. RCS will analyze the data by this subgroup, and continue to assess students’ growth though formative and summative assessments, including benchmark assessments. Specifically, the Charter School evaluates the effectiveness of its education program for ELs by: • Adhering to Charter School-adopted academic benchmarks by language proficiency level and years in program to determine annual progress.
• Monitoring teacher qualifications and the use of appropriate instructional strategies based on program design.
• Monitoring student identification and placement.
• Monitoring parental program choice options.
• Monitoring availability of adequate resources.