These are some of the most frequently asked questions:
- What is the University Academy?
- What is unique about UA?
- What will individualized instruction look like?
- How will individualized instruction affect my child’s academic achievement?
- How will my student be assessed?
The Mission of the University Academy is to establish a research-based school community that learns, leads, and lasts. The University Academy will offer an environment that emphasizes innovative teaching and learning in order to maximize academic achievement for all students and to promote high expectations for the school community to become responsible, productive, lifelong learners.
At the University Academy, we know that any child can achieve his or her potential in a school that hires effective teachers, implements the most proven curriculum, expects an active partnership with parents, and creates an atmosphere conducive to learning.
University Academy is committed to:
- improve learning by providing new opportunities for all students
- incorporate innovative teaching methods based on research
- share professional practices and curricula in collaboration with the broader family of public schools in order to increase achievement
- support the profession with a model founded on research, validated through application, sustained with continuous improvement
- an extended academic school day from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM
- a 2 hour school-wide reading reading block (elementary) and a 1+ hour math block to provide instruction that meets individual student needs – some grade levels have longer instructional blocks based on student needs
- a dedicated time in the daily schedule provided for each student where teachers offer individualized remedial help or enrichment opportunities based on the concepts studied earlier in the day
- professional development to create and sustain highly effective teachers
Individualized instruction begins with a two-hour school-wide reading block and a one-hour math instructional block. The greatest achievement gains occur when students participate in “walk to read” and “walk to math” programs which allows students to receive appropriate instruction for their skill level and instructional need.
The second structure recommended by the research is to organize learners into small groups where instruction is provided with text that matches the student reading level. University Academy has also incorporated this structure by expanding the reading block to 120 minutes, which allows additional time for instruction. In some grade levels, depending on student need, even more instructional time is available for reading and math.
“Walk to math,” where students are able to receive instruction on concepts they are prepared to learn, practice, and master. Upper grade teachers have extended this math time beyond 60 minutes.
For both “walk-to” structures, students are assessed to determine ability and need; then they proceed to work at their assessed/actual instructional level.
A committed review time for Multi-Tiered System Support (MTSS) is part of the daily schedule. During this time, teachers can re-address the concepts explored throughout the day. If student help is warranted, remediation will be provided. If a student has the ability to carry a concept further, enhancement will be provided. This structure offers level-wide opportunities each day, increases the impact for all students, and follows research recommendations for students in the lowest quartile. Simply matching student ability with appropriate resources is only the first step. Additional instructional time is necessary to increase learning gains and bring students to grade-level standards.
In addition, a committed extended school day will provide sufficient instructional time for all subjects, including real science exploration. Creative scheduling includes ample time for teacher planning while extending the students’ instructional day from 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM.
A committed Plan for Evaluating Student Performance with goals for improving student achievement will be implemented in order to ensure each student makes Adequate Yearly Progress, whether they begin below-level, on-level, or above-level.
Progress and performance are evaluated with regular ongoing assessments using a variety of tools including beginning, mid-year, and end-year assessments. These assessments identify progress as it occurs throughout the year, lead to intervention where necessary, and to ultimate success. FSA or FCAT tests provide scores for the appropriate grades in reading, math, writing, and science with data that reveals the year’s gains and each student’s performance.
The current Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) in Reading, Math, and Writing, and FCAT Assessments in Science are assessments which the school uses to measure and monitor student performance for state accountability. Other assessments are school-based and are used to guide instruction, inform curricular choices, and record student progress. These include: Individual Reading Inventories, Singapore math assessments, Core Reading SRA tests, and other classroom measures.
Student assessment and performance information will be shared with students and parents in ways that match the nature and frequency of assessment. Students should receive feedback at the time of learning to redirect misconceptions or acknowledge success. Parents should receive information weekly on student learning performance in the classroom. In addition, conferences with parents and students should be held at least twice a year to share the student’s progress over time in meeting personal education Goals. During conferences, which also may be requested at any time by the parent, summative assessment data on the state and local assessments can be shared to provide a clear explanation of student progress, achievement, and future goals. University Academy believes that open, frequent, interactive communication is a critical component for an effective teacher in an effective school.