9970: ACE Preparatory Academy Charter School
Section One: Delivery of Learning
1. Describe how you will deliver continuous learning opportunities for all students, including special student populations.
ACE Prep’s continuous learning model is in full-force for all K-5 scholars and school staff alike. Our model transitioned to complete online learning on April 6, 2020 yet varies slightly grade-by-grade. Although we view this plan as one that will continue to evolve based on our own growth and development, scholar needs, and family feedback, we have embraced the new expectations and are committed to finishing out the year strong.
Based on responses gathered from a family technology survey, internet access isn’t a barrier to our scholars continued education while away from school. Therefore, we made the decision to send home scholar Chromebooks and go fully digital. E-Learning days are Monday-Tuesday, Thursday-Friday. Wednesday is devoted to staff PD/planning.
Just like when in the building, instruction from one grade to the next looks a bit different, although we do have agreed upon norms – all teachers begin their days with a Morning Message on ClassTag (see Question 5), each incorporate a combination of recorded lessons and live Zoom experiences, all require proof of work and evidence of learning, and everyone takes attendance with the same standards. Additionally, ACE Prep uses IReady for diagnostic assessment in reading and math. This computer-adaptive program also serves as an instructional tool in these two subjects and creates individualized scholar paths for learning. Every K-4 scholar has IReady expectations for at home use, developmentally appropriate for their grade level. Additional instruction is teacher created (either on prerecorded videos or shared in live Zoom sessions) that align to the internal pacing guides and curricular content as intended.
Continuous Learning Opportunities for Special Populations
Any ACE Prep scholar that has an IEP requiring additional academic support has continued to receive that support as outlined in their IEP. Our Coordinator of Scholar Supports has been in contact with every family to explain what this looks like under these new conditions – amendments have been made and IEPs have been resigned to allow for remote instruction. Our Instructional Specialists are meeting IEP minutes 1:1 via Zoom (all scholars have been able to access) and tracking all interactions aligned to instructional goals.
Speech therapy services continue 1:1 via Zoom. Until we knew technology access for all families, paper-pencil resources were provided and delivered to scholar homes.
OT services continue 1:1 via Zoom. Until we knew technology access for all families, paper-pencil resources were mailed and required supplies were delivered to scholar homes.
Social Emotional Supports:
School-wide social emotional videos have been created and posted weekly. Furthermore, scholars previously identified and/or received individual or small group supports in this area continue to do so.
2. Describe how your district communicates expectations for continuous learning implementation to 1. ) students, 2.) families, and 3.) staff.
As information was/is made known to school leadership from IDOE, the Governor’s Office, health department or city leaders, the WHO, etc. we quickly share(d) information in a manner that was/is responsible, clear, and transparent. Specifically, we use the following communication channels to promote school news and updates:
• ClassTag (parent communication tool used since 8/2019)
• school memos
• phone calls
Furthermore, the primary means of communication for the following groups is outlined below:
• classroom websites and/or classroom platforms (Canvas, FlipGrid)
• teacher created videos
• ClassTag (thru parents)
• ClassTag (classroom page and school-level page)
• Face Book
• school memos
• assigned to a Family Liaison
• personal phone calls/texts/email
• staff zoom meetings
• 1:1 or group specific calls (ie: operations team and Head of School)
• staff/school memos and email
• internal GroupMe for specific groups (ie: communicating with just the Family Liaisons in a text group with only them as members)
3. Describe student access to academic instruction, resources, and supports during continuous learning.
Per the results of a parent technology survey, internet access isn’t a barrier for our scholars continue learning at home. Therefore, we devised a process and procedure for sending Chromebooks home so that continuous learning could be fully online. See Question 1 for further explanation.
Additionally, the primary curricular resources used to deliver reading, math, and writing instruction are ones that the scholar used while in school and therefore, is familiar with how to access/operate. If not, a training session via Zoom, a video, or 1:1 phone calls were offered to ensure families were all comfortable and confident accessing the content. Furthermore, the delivery platforms teachers are using to organize scholar expectations and assignments, while new to families, were explained via videos, trainings, or 1:1 calls.
We have also created Family Liaisons (see Question 5). They each are responsible for communicating with families in a manner that troubleshoots tech issues, helps to problem solve needs, and supports academic concerns.
4. What equipment and tools are available to staff and students to enable your continuous learning plan? Please list.
• all staff have access to the internet at home
• all staff have a school-issued laptop for use at home
• all staff were given a budget to spend on tools they’d need in order to fully implement our eLearning plan from home (tripods to record lessons, dry erase board/markers, chart paper) – requests were approved, and supplies were delivered directly to teacher homes
When the first closure order until 4/5 was issued, we provided continuous instruction via paper-pencil packets on the days we were counting as a day of learning. Once the closure order was extended, we took the following steps for long-term sustainability:
• families completed a technology survey – nobody self-reported not having internet access
• any family who indicated they did not have a device appropriate for scholar learning at home could receive a school issued Chromebook (we are 1:1)
• the assigned Chromebook, charger, headphones, and mouse belonging to each scholar were fully cleaned, inventoried and packaged and sent home for all in need
• an FAQ document was created and provided to every family to help trouble-shoot tech issues at home• 4 Family Liaisons were trained on potential technology issues so that they can serve as the first responders and provide tech support to families as needed
Furthermore, if curricular platforms are being used for instructional purposes, all scholar accounts and passwords were set up by the teachers and shared with families. “How to” zoom sessions and/or videos were created to explain academic expectations using these new tools and resources and have been recorded/posted for repeated use as need be.
5. Describe how educators and support staff are expected to connect with students and families on an ongoing basis.
Communication between families and the ACE Prep team is constant, ongoing, and happening daily – it was a strength of ours before the pandemic and remains a heightened prioritized practice now that we’re all learning at home.
Who communicates with families?
In short, we all do. However, to streamline communication we’ve taken this opportunity to “repurpose” staff who do not have a classroom teaching role to create Family Liaisons. This newly formed team distributed the student-body amongst themselves, created trackers to record interactions with each family, and developed a schedule to ensure every family is heard from weekly.
What is our primary tool to communicate with families?
Communication with families begins via ClassTag. ClassTag is an app designed for school use to engage families – it has a plethora of valuable functions, including language translation. We’ve used it the majority of the school year and thus, families are already familiar with how it works. We use ClassTag on a schoolwide level to share announcements, special videos, surveys, etc. Families receive a text or email notification anytime something is posted – this also is a helpful way for us to know if contact information has changed.
How do teachers use ClassTag?
Prior to 9AM, classroom teachers post a recorded Morning Message on their individual ClassTag pages that shares the expectations, tasks, good news, and shout-outs for the day. ClassTag collects and shares back real-time data on
engagement from individual families on every post/video. Teachers note this information, identify trends, and follow-up with families accordingly.
How do families use ClassTag?
Families can also use ClassTag to communicate with us – they can comment on a post/video, respond to questions, upload pictures of scholar work, answer surveys, and message the teacher privately.
Additionally, we are utilizing Zoom for interactions with scholars which allows us to see them
6. Describe your method for providing timely and meaningful academic feedback to students.
The feedback cycle as defined by teachers is embedded into the daily lessons and a piece of their instructional process. Teachers have allowed for multiple ways to either show work (via uploading pictures), submit work (via Canvas, individual classroom websites, or ClassTag), or document learning (via online curricular tools and websites). Zoom also mirrors direct instruction and allows for real-time feedback.
Section Two: Achievement and Attendance
7. Does your continuous learning plan provide an avenue for students to earn high school credits? If so, describe the approach.
NA – ACE Prep currently serves scholars in Grades K-5.
8. Describe your attendance policy for continuous learning.
The small size of our school provides a no-excuses mentality of being able to have a solid, accurate, and up-to-date handle on every scholar, every day, whether they follow thru with the day’s expectations for eLearning or not. In other words, even if a scholar isn’t present on Zoom or didn’t access the online curriculum or view a video post from their teacher, we are aware of their why. Our team has developed systems and defined procedures for immediate steps to communicate with families on a daily basis and at the first sight of a missed expectation, just as we would when physically at school.
While we willingly extend grace to scholars whose families are enduring COVID-19 related struggles, our communicated attendance policy is summarized as follows.
• E-Learning occurs on Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday
• Attendance is absolutely expected
•Participation is required for scholars to be considered present that day*
*Participation looks different at every grade level. Those expectations have been clearly communicated to families by teachers and reiterated by school leadership.
9. Describe your long-term goals to address skill gaps for the remainder of the school year.
Despite instructional delivery now looking entirely different than our traditional school-based model, teachers and support staff continue to forge ahead with content and skills as defined on internal grade-level curricular maps. We have prioritized daily reading and math instruction/practice and have spiraled in other literacy and wellness components based on the grade in order to scale back a full 8 hour school day during this time.
Our first day of school closure coincidently coincided with the beginning of 4th Quarter. Parent-teacher conferences had just concluded where individualized EOY goals were reviewed. For those scholars below grade level, or who still had clear-cut targets to hit, retention as a possibility was discussed. More importantly however, intensified supports were defined for the remainder of the year – pull out, push-in, small group, home support, in-class differentiation, etc. Although the delivery model has now changed, the intent behind these individual supports remains strong and implementation is in full force.
• 1:1 instruction in reading is occurring in first grade via zoom, which allows a more individualized approach to goal obtainment and acts as an additional layer of support to the other daily expectations.
• teachers require daily participation on iReady in math and reading, which provides real-time data on skills. This computer adaptive program allows us to assign lessons based on mastery (or lack thereof) and create individualized “learning paths”.
Section Three: Staff Development
10. Describe your professional development plan for continuous learning.
ACE Prep was designed with PD as a pivotal component of our school model, as evidenced by an early release day once a week for job-embedded PD and personal opportunities for collaboration and growth outlined in our original charter. This focus on PD continues for the rest of the school year, however, has transitioned to a full-day day model once a week – instruction is M-T and Th-F, allowing Wednesday to be a day devoted just to the needs of the team.
Week depending, and needs varying, this may look like:
• Full staff meetings (via zoom)
• Full staff PD/training (via zoom)
• Grade level specific meetings (via zoom)
• Grade level planning meetings
• Devoted 1:1 time with school leadership
• Instructional feedback on videos or live sessions
• Book clubs centered on a relevant topic
• Zoom meetings/webinars offered by outside organizations regarding various aspects of E-Learning (ie: TeachPlus, ClassroomU)
Additionally, we work hard to promote a healthy balance between professional responsibilities and personal lives and find the need to do so now more so than ever. The examples below share a few ways we’ve addressed teacher development specifically centered on working-from-home:
• Weekly email with work-from-home and time management tips
• Sharing of podcasts, articles, videos with opportunities for follow-up
• 1:1 calls just to check in