2019 School Year Off to Great Start

2019 marks the start of our ninth year providing innovative academic options to area students. We are now accredited by the Western Association for Schools and Colleges, and over 100 of our courses have been approved by the NCAA, which is a great benefit for our competitive athletes hoping to compete in college. None of our students to date has required remedial English or math when they go to college, in contrast to 88% of school district students who need remedial English, math, or both before attending even community college. We are proud to be at the front lines of education technology, regularly seeking out and implementing the best of learning science research to ensure student success. It works.

We can’t do it without generous contributions, however. Watch this space for news of our major annual fundraising effort in March, the Nevada Big Give.

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Biology at the I•School this Fall

Every fall we have a large group of students in to take biology with us, which is one of my favorite subjects.  Here’s what we are offering this year:

·         One year of Honors Biology following the APEX curriculum.  The 21-page syllabus is attached.  As you may know, APEX is a highly regarded curriculum among the better colleges and is regularly updated with new science information.  Our AP Chemistry student last year using the APEX curriculum got a 5 on the AP test and early admission to Harvard. 

·         This is not an online class.  Lab write-ups and worksheets are turned in to me for grading, and I am licensed by the state to teach biology, environmental science and health.  Per a special arrangement with the school district, your student’s transcript will note APEX Biology with a wet lab designation (for those who do wet labs).

·         There are five labs per semester for those wanting the wet lab option.  These are generally done in groups of five or less.  We will set the lab schedules once we know student availability for Wednesday afternoon, Friday afternoon, Saturday, or another time.

·         Cost is $490 per semester for Honors or regular biology, plus an additional fee of $100 per semester for those wanting the wet lab option. This price all-inclusive and includes a binder of study materials, one hour a week of small group or one-on-one instruction, grading, conducting wet labs, proctoring exams, regular communication with your instructor as needed, and sending your transcript to IHS.  The weekly hours do not accumulate; we want them to use them each week and not leave it all to the end. 

·         The only additional fee that you may incur – and you now have this in writing -- is if your student 1) needs more time than one hour a week with the instructor (this happens infrequently) or 2) they miss a lab they had previously agreed to attend and they need to have the lab repeated just for them. 

·         Additional I-School instructor time is available for $50 an hour (discounted from the usual $65/hour) and the SNC tutoring center is also available at no cost.

·         We are accredited by the same organization that accredits WCSD.  There is no question that your student’s transcript will be accepted upon successful completion of the course.  IHS will award the extra weighting for honors. 

·         We require that students check in at least once a week, by phone or in person, to ensure they stay on track to completion.  Parents will have access to a parent portal to track student progress and hours spent with instructors.  Parents will receive weekly emails with progress as well.

·         Fall semester for this class starts August 29 and ends December 1 to avoid the ski and holiday seasons.  Spring semester concludes May 1 so that biology class does not interfere with other finals or AP tests.  Students may work ahead if they wish.  Students wanting to access the course sooner than August 29 may do so as soon as payment is received.

·         As we are a proficiency-based program, the minimum passing grade is a C.  We do not report grades of D or F as we do not consider a student to have completed the course until they have reached minimum proficiency.  Our goal is to do everything we can to help the student succeed in biology and make it a rewarding experience.  We love science!

·         Quizzes may be taken at home.  Unit tests must be taken at ISchool.  Finals must be taken at ISchool or preferably at IHS so IHS can document proficiency.    

·         A word about costs.  I realize this course may seem expensive as we have no tax subsidies to offset costs.  In fact, this course is less expensive than public school.  In 2013-2014, per-student expenditure at IHS was $13,390 (excluding additional funds raised through crab feeds, grants, donations…and that’s costs from three years ago).  For an IHS student taking 6 classes, that works out to $2,232 per course, so $1,180 for a year-long, well-designed Honors Biology course with wet lab is actually a very good value. 

·         Our school has been approved by NCAA.  APEX has been approved by NCAA.  We are now working through NCAA approval of APEX courses taught by ISchool, which we expect shortly.  If NCAA approval is important to you, please send me an email as NCAA will process our request more quickly if there is an immediate student need for it.

·         Partial scholarships are available thanks to generous donations from other parents, and from organizations who read the parent and student testimonials on GreatNonProfits.org.  If you have not added yours yet, please do.

To register, please contact Molly Coffyn at mccoffyn@ischools.us.

Any questions, please email kkelly@ischools.us or call at (775) 831-2423.  You are welcome to share this with any parent who may be interested in this information.

Did She Really Say That?

“We need to investigate the assumption that…parents are in a position to make good choices about the educational [sic]…we know that not all parents make rational choices.” 

-- Sylvia Lazos, Professor of Law, UNLV, testifying at the Nevada State Treasurer’s Workshop on Education Savings Accounts 17 July 2015.

Let’s see.  Who’s making the education decisions now? 

It’s obviously not the parents.  But maybe it’s time for to give parents a say in helping our kids get the education they deserve, including how education dollars are spent. 

Parents are taking charge of their children’s education in greater numbers than ever.  The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that homeschooling is up 44% in 2014-2015 compared to the prior two years in Clark County, the nation’s fifth-largest school district.  Parents of nearly 6,000 students have already signed up for Education Savings Accounts (ESA) which, like Health Savings Accounts, will give parents more control over their children’s education.   

Maybe that increased interest by parents is because of headlines like…

 “Nevada Earns a D on State Report Card, Ranks 51st in Nation”

That was the national news last January upon release of the annual Quality Counts survey in US education, ranking states in nearly 40 different indicators through high-school graduation. 

Nevada is dead last.  Behind Washington, DC.

But the bad news doesn’t stop at graduation.  HALF of Nevada graduates require remedial math, or English, or both AFTER they graduate from the #51-ranked state in the nation.  And those are just the kids going to college; we don’t know what remediation rates would be for those who drop out or don’t pursue college.  Or their proficiency in science or any subject other than English and math

So here’s an idea:  instead of congratulating ourselves for incremental increases in graduation rates (and remediation), state educators should adopt a laser-like focus on ensuring a remediation rate of ZERO if the diplomas are to have any value for college or career.  That means proving subject competence at every step of the way and not pushing core competencies on to colleges or future employers.  What child cares if the district knows “Every child, by name and face, to graduation” (the Washoe County School District motto) if they have a 50-50 chance of needing bonehead English or math in college?

Now fast-forward a year since the first ESA workshop.  Ms. Lazos – who thinks parents can’t make better choices for their kids than the government can -- is now policy director at Educate Nevada Now, a program launched by The Rogers Foundation to advocate for improved public education. Educate Nevada Now also happens to be a backer of the case against ESAs which appears before the Supreme Court this week. 

Why does Educate Nevada Now oppose ESA’s?  In a May 8 interview with the Review Journal, Ms. Lazos stated wealthy students and poor students have equal access to vouchers and that has not been done anywhere else in the country. 

Wait.  That sounds like a good thing.

“Equity and opportunity … that’s not what’s happening when you open it up to everybody,” she said. “I think that is what really makes this program … so threatening to public education.”

Did she really say that?  We are tying up State Supreme Court time on arguments like this when we are the academic rock bottom in the nation?

Any of you parents and teachers who feel like you can make better decisions for your kids than those who have brought us to #51 is encouraged to show your support for the Education Savings Accounts.  You know, the one offering “equity and opportunity” for all Nevada students.

Want some ways to show your support? 

  1. Sign the petition in support of the ESA.

  2. Take a field trip and attend the oral arguments presented before the Nevada Supreme Court this Friday, July 29, at 10AM in Las Vegas.

  3. Attend the rally in Las Vegas before the oral arguments.

  4. Watch it via live feed in Carson City or at home by clicking the “live video” link here.

  5. Inform yourself more about this program hailed as the best of its kind in the nation.

  6. Sign your child up to become an opt-in student and receive an Education Savings Account during the next open enrollment program (August 1-September 30). 

As we are dead last in the nation academically, we have nowhere to go but up. 


Kathryn Kelly, DrPH MEd, is a parent, science teacher, and Executive Director of I·School in Reno and Incline Village. She believes ESAs are an important path to providing parent-directed, competency-based education for all, with zero remediation rates.  She can be reached at 775-831-2423 or kkelly@ischools.us.

Camp Cerebrum and more!

The staff at the I•School have dreamt up a Tuesday through Thursday summer camp for students grades 3-8 who want to both sharpen their reading, writing and math skills and enjoy fun activities created by our very own teachers.

The summertime offers so much potential, whether filling gaps in understanding from this past school year or tackling fun, new projects with friends. We provide space where children can explore personal and intellectual growth at their own pace, with comfortability and confidence.

Please take a look at the schedule in the photo below and consider signing your child up for summer camp at I•School today!

Graduation Celebrations Amongst the Trees

"The secret of life is not enjoyment. It is education through experience." -Swami Vivekananda

Here is a snapshot of the I•School's graduation celebration at Tahoe Adventure Park!

All active students and families of the I•School honored the end of the school year and the accomplishments of our recent senior graduates by conquering fears amidst the treetops.

Stop The Summer Slide - Enroll In Summer School Today

This summer, I•School offers credit recovery for students who want to replace low grades with stronger ones, summer school enrollment with self-paced courses so students can get ahead of schedule for next year, dual credit options to gain valuable college credit at the same time, and a Brain Chase program where younger students can keep their reading, writing and math skills sharp while completing a treasure hunt with a $20,000 prize.

ESA Enrollment Period Open Through June 30 for Innovative State Education Savings Account

Representatives from the offices of the Nevada Treasurer, the Nevada Attorney General, the Nevada Department of Education and the Nevada Policy Research Institute presented updates on the Nevada Education Savings Account (ESA) and the Scholarship Grant Organizations to a full house at Bishop Manogue school in Reno tonight.  Highlights:

1.  Nevada has now won four out of five legal challenges to its innovative Education Savings Account, which has all eyes on Nevada for its comprehensive and universal school choice options.  The fifth case is to be decided this summer, hopefully in time for fall enrollment in the ESA program for which 6,000 students have already signed up to receive at least $5,200 per student for use as the parent sees fit.  For more information or to sign up, to go nevadaesa.com.  Enrollment is currently open through June 30.

2. The state's Scholarship Grant Organization program has expanded to four organizations, with a total of nearly $8,000 available for Nevada students who meet financial thresholds.  For more information, contact Donna Wix at dwix@doe.nv.gov.



Always Searching for More Active Learning!

The I•School values project-based learning and we seek out as many opportunities as possible for students to learn through experience.

Here is a photo of two of our full time students, Parker and Hannah, as they build our school's sign, which you can now view out in front of our building. Great thanks to one of our our math teachers, Mr. Hawley, for his guidance!