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  If you have not added yours yet, please do.

To register, please contact Molly Coffyn at

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