Our Components of Education
Every day, our instruction is informed by student data and driven by one primary goal: outstanding student achievement. We believe we are responsible for student outcomes.
Our rigorous, standards-based curriculum is directly aligned to state standards, but also designed to close achievement gaps. Every class has a measurable, standards-aligned daily objective, so teachers know our students are on-track to meet state goals.
We regularly use short-cycle, or formative, assessments designed by teachers to inform their instruction and help them make changes based on student performance. Unfortunately for many students, assessments are often used as a “punishment” by doling out low grades for failure to learn the material, and then moving the students on to the next unit of study. Our more frequent assessments provide students with more opportunities to prove they've mastered the material.
Mountains of research agree that writing skills are imperative to students' overall success and preparedness for college and the competitive world. To that end, MAS places a heavy emphasis on writing in all content areas, and all of our teachers are trained in the writing process and content-specific writing strategies. MAS students also receive two 90-minute reading and writing instructional periods each day--three times the amount of instruction offered by most traditional schools!
Our instructional staff at MAS are trained in collaborative scoring of student work so that scoring is objective rather than subjective. We do this to ensure that all our teachers hold students to the same high expectations, and to ensure that grades are meaningful and actually measure student proficiency.
MAS embraces a no-excuses, whatever-it-takes attitude to ensure our students succeed; we also believe that high expectations begin with adults and pertain not just to academic achievement, but also attendance, work ethic, and character. Here are some ways we teach high expectations:
Bell-to-bell instruction – All teachers begin their classes with a standards-based “Do Now” activity that will help students to connect yesterday's content to today's, and signals that class has begun. It also helps teachers seize every minute of instructional time. If just ten minutes are wasted per class period in a six-hour school day for an 180 school-day year, our students lose an entire month of school each academic year!
Uniform binder system – Our binder system at the middle and high school level teaches the organization skills students need to successfully transition into secondary school. Each student has an individual student binder in each of their core content-area classes, uniformly organized by content. For example, all math classes would have the following sections:
College field trips – Most of our students will be first-generation college students, and we know that telling them they're college-bound is not enough to make it a reality on its own. To help them visualize the college experience better--and to imagine themselves in it!--we aim to take each class of students on at least two college field trips each school year from grades 6-12. By creating the opportunity for students to physically visit college campuses, we plant an important seed for our students in helping them to see themselves as a future college student and a future college graduate.
In many schools, discipline focuses on reacting to student misbehavior by using punishment like reprimands, loss of privileges, office referrals, suspensions, and expulsions. At MAS, we have intentionally cultivated a positive, supportive, safe, and effective school environment through the proactive approach of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). Teaching behavioral expectations and rewarding students for following them is a much more positive approach than waiting for misbehavior to occur.
We believe our students with disabilities and English language learners benefit both socially and academically in an inclusive classroom. We adapt the curriculum to our students, taking into account their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), to be responsive to the culturally diverse student population MAS serves.
At MAS, we invest heavily in professional development to ensure our teachers are continually improving to ensure outstanding student achievement. Robert Marzano conducted a research study in which he evaluated school and teacher effectiveness and their impact on learning. Take a look at what he found:
|School and Teacher Effectiveness Impact
on Learning Entering School at the 50th Percentile
|Type of School and Type of Teacher||Percentile After Two Years|
|Ineffective school and Ineffective Teacher||3rd|
|Effective School and Ineffective Teacher||37th|
|Average School and Average Teacher||50th|
|Ineffective School and Effective Teacher||63rd|
|Effective School and Average Teacher||78th|
|Effective School and Effective Teacher||96th|
As you can see here, an effective teacher can have a profound impact on student performance, a fact we built our intensive and continual professional development around. MAS commits to two full weeks of professional development before the start of each school year for all returning teachers and three full weeks of professional development for teachers new to our school! We also front-load our schedule to provide an hour of professional development and collaboration for our staff each and every school day--adding up to 182 additional hours of professional development for all instructional staff throughout the school year.
Parental involvement is critical to student academic achievement. However, meaningful involvement doesn't just mean physical school visits, especially when we know how busy life as a parent can be! We encourage participation in doable ways that support the needs of our parents as they support their students. Here are some ways we achieve this:
Communication – MAS maintains regular communication with parents via email blasts; telephone blasts; newsletters; personalized staff phone calls; early and consistent notice of academic and behavioral concerns; before-school, in-school, and/or after-school meetings; and an open-door policy.
MAS' annual Meet & Greet – MAS hosts an annual Meet & Greet event prior to the start of the school year to welcome new families to MAS and welcome returning families back. We also share highlights from the previous school year and announce new and exciting developments. Students get to meet their teachers for the upcoming school year, collect their school uniforms, sign up for sports and clubs, and much more!
Parent conferences – School-wide parent teacher conferences are held twice each year, once in the fall and once in the spring. Additionally, staff are available and expected to meet with parents outside of the regularly scheduled parent teacher conference dates at a parent’s request or as the need arises.
Academics alone can't prepare students to experience success in all areas of their lives, so MAS students also learn success principles that help them get from where they are to where they want to be. There are many ways that we teach success principles to students, but two resources we use include the Choose Love curriculum by Scarlett Lewis and The Success Principles for Teens by Jack Canfield and Kent Healy. MAS is so committed to ensuring our students know, understand, apply, and use success principles that we require a one-credit, required course titled “The Success Principles for High School Students.”