How It Works
Implementing an Individualized Program
I·School uses thoughtfully-designed academic material that takes different student learning styles into account. As there is no one curriculum that suits every student’s needs, we are not affiliated with any one provider, nor do we feel it necessary to design original course content given several excellent curricula created by professional instructional designers. Instead, we thoroughly investigate the wide variety of content providers against criteria we have established to identify those with a solid record of proven and successful student outcomes.
I·School’s Process for Choosing the Right Courses for Your Student
What is the student interested in?
The #1 reason students drop out of school is…boredom, because they cannot see the relevance of what they are learning to their interests and future. By the time they are 6, you already have an inkling of whether your son or daughter is more inclined to become a computer programmer, ornithologist, geologist, athlete, concert violinist, etc. We find out what your student’s natural interests and abilities are, and teach to those skills. Your athlete doesn’t do well in math? Teach them math and statistics through analyzing team and player performance. Your budding artist doesn’t like science? Teach the chemistry, physics and biology of art materials and design through the eyes of an artist. And so on.
How does the student learn best?
An engaged student is a learning student. To discover how to best engage your student, we start with MindPrintbaseline testing of cognitive skills to see where your student excels and where they need additional support in the areas of visual motor speed, processing speed, attention, working memory, flexible thinking, abstract reasoning, verbal reasoning, spatial perception, verbal memory and visual memory. The normed, validated test takes about an hour and is done on a PC, and provides the teachers, parents and students with detailed information about how each child learns best. Then we play to those strengths, while supporting the skills that need additional development.
Is the course academically rigorous?
Too many courses, online and off, are not sufficiently challenging or designed with unique student learning styles in mind. We constantly scour new offerings for evidence of successful student outcomes and .
Does the course follow accepted instructional design criteria?
There is nothing more frustrating than being asked a question on a test that was not covered in the course material. That’s poor instructional design. We find providers of courses that are constantly updating the content and the means by which that content is taught.
Are students engaged with the material?
Excellent design does not stop with rigorous content. It must also engage students visually and intellectually for learning and retention to occur. With many different courses to choose from, we can ensure that there is a good fit between the student and the subject.
What if my students fall behind? Or may they work ahead?
Yes. We understand students do not learn at the same pace. Our teachers work with students to ensure they progress at a pace needed to achieve competency on a schedule that can accommodate travel for competitive athletics, chronic illness, or simply learning differences.
Is the course accredited and/or approved by relevant organizations?
We ensure our courses meet accreditation guidelines set by school districts, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, NCAA, Core Knowledge, the University of California, and other organizations as needed.
Is each course aligned with accepted standards?
Yes. We look for, but are not limited to, courses that are aligned with professionally-developed standards, such as: science courses aligned with Next Generation Science Standards; English and math courses aligned with Common Core State Standards; art courses aligned with the National Standards for Arts Education; foreign language instruction aligned with the National Standards for Learning Languages; and the well-rounded K-8 instruction offered by Core Knowledge. These national standards provide guidelines and concepts that should be consistently taught across various grades and schools, leaving it to local teachers and schools to decide which course materials and curricula to use to teach those concepts.
What about Common Core?
There are two parts to Common Core. First, there are the relatively brief standards themselves (which you can read here and here), which are actually quite robust and significantly raise the educational bar in Nevada, routinely ranked #50 in the nation. Then there is the implementation of the standards, which was designed to be done by each individual local school board. Varying degrees of success at choosing appropriate curricula, testing, and federal reporting of results are the reasons for much of the current controversy over Common Core. At I·School, we teach English and math in alignment with the spirit of the guidelines as they were intended, we will tell you how your students are faring nationally in English, writing, reading, math and science — according to the best curriculum available for your child — and we will report the results only to you.
What evidence exists to prove these courses are effective in teaching my child?
We read the underlying research to test whether a given tool, software, or program has been proven to be effective in helping students master a subject. We check with the What Works Clearinghouse to see what evidence exists for each course, and iNACOL to see if it meets established standards for blended learning. Then we work with the student to ensure it is a good fit. If not, we find a better fit with a different program.
What if the right course does not exist?
There are non-core subjects that we believe do not have an adequately rigorous curriculum created for instruction. When that happens, we will create our own course following established guidelines and submit them for approval. We have done that with Current Events and Computer Literacy. Current courses under consideration include Sports Psychology, Coding/Programming, Paleontology, Digital Videography, and music instruction.