Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How come you are not a charter school? I wish my child could go, but I can’t afford it!
A: First, if you really want to send your child, and they qualify, talk to us. We can come into funding for a few scholarships at any time.
It is not legal for charters to be selective enrollment in Illinois. We are not likely to get many more charters, as most are currently using a for profit model shrouded in public status by hiring management companies that make a profit, a legislative loophole that is about to get closed with a bill this year. There are other related issues.
We could be a lab school to cover tuition, but the focus right now is on closing the achievement gap, so a gifted lab school is not appealing to colleges- we tried. Also, the process is 3-5 years long and our kids are not getting any younger. The U Chicago lab school is not a lab school anymore. They are a private school now. The only state lab school that we know of right now is in Urbana-Champaign.
Q: What is your allergy policy?
A: As parents of children with extensive, rare food allergies, we plan to work with FARE and Rush Pediatric Allergy and Immunology to develop a comprehensive, inclusive, proactive food allergy plan. Our number one priority is safety.
Q: Why no homework? My child likes homework and worksheets. I like it because it allows me to see what they are learning.
A: We use the 7+ hours wisely while students are with us and we make sure the student has a chance to work hard and apply themselves, there is no need for more work after school. There will be work completed in school, with feedback from teacher that has been reviewed with the student, coming home weekly, and lots of different ways in which you will have full visibility of the learning that is happening. For many families, homework is a struggle, and a source of conflict. Some children and parents like homework and look forward to that time to connect. We can help you find other ways in which you can support your student and find other ways to connect that could be more enriching and meaningful. We want our students to pursue their passions, to play, to interact with friends and family, and to have time to relax after school so they can be ready to do it all again the next day. If this is a concern, you can reach out to us and we can discuss options. We want the parents to have as much control as possible because they know their child the best.
Q: I thought all kids evened out by 3rd grade?
A: Absolutely, if a gifted child is not taught past what they can pick up by themselves, the other kids might catch up. Unless a child is extremely lucky and was matched with a teacher that is willing to go beyond what is required for each child by their school and not entirely focused on remediation for the bottom of the class, the other kids might catch up. Many teachers say oh, that kid already knows the material, I don’t have to worry about them. Our average students are 3 or more years ahead of age peers in all subjects. Absolutely, if they are not taught any longer, differentiated to and presented with novel material, the other kids might eventually catch up to the gifted. Just not on our watch. We meet each child where they are and allow them the joy of learning in a nurturing, safe, creative environment. Not pushed. Just given opportunity and teaching relevant for them.
Q: Our family situation results in frequent prolonged non-medical absences from school. What is your policy?
A: We are actor, musician, athlete, and world traveler-friendly (etc.). Our policy for unexcused absences is driven by the State of Illinois Department of Education. If this will be your family’s situation, we simply consider you as a homeschool customer of the school for record keeping instead of a full-time student, because of state law. You will still receive a proper transcript and this doesn’t hurt your child’s chances to get into college.
Q: What tests will the students take and will mine have to participate? How will the tests be used?
A: There are certain tests that are tied to state regulations. If we find any that are required and you do not wish for your child to participate, you can opt out. We will also spend no class instructional time at all prepping for any such test. If you opt out of certain tests, you will be considered a homeschool customer of the school instead of a student, and we show that relationship in our records - that will be the only difference for your child.
There are other types of assessments that we may give, that are optional for full time students, and if testing is a tough area for your student, we can discuss them and have you opt out. We don't offer opt-out forms in our enrollment package because it will be for a minority of students. Our tests may include benchmark testing to help us determine the ballpark for where to start the detailed assessment to inform future instruction. We will also assess to measure overall attainment or progress.
What do these types of tests look like? Well, they are pre and post instruction assessments. The student may sit with a teacher and show the teacher how they would solve a problem. The assessment may be working on a group or individual project or even be a game where the student doesn't know the teacher is even checking their understanding. Not all of this is worksheet based. The student won't see any grade on the assessment, or something like “14/16”. Instead, the teacher may sit with a student and ask them to show them how they were solving a problem, and guide in alternative strategies, helping the student find their way to the solution where there is the right one, and building their stamina and resilience. The student might meet with the teacher to discuss any challenges encountered and strategies that may help next time just as they would for any project. Our student feedback is strength-based.