Sequoia Lehi Charter School’s mission is to ensure that “Every Child is Known.” This simple statement is SLCS’s promise to get to know each child and to provide him/her with an academic program that recognizes their own special qualities and abilities. Unlike many programs, our curriculum is driven by the needs of the child, not the needs or limitations of the curriculum. Teachers are evaluated on rubrics that measure this core value. The curriculum is horizontally and vertically articulated with every teacher required to provide a curriculum map to the principal early in the academic year. Expectations are articulated to parents at the beginning of the year.
SLCS’s approach blends core knowledge mastery with a nurturing, exciting, and child-centered philosophy. At SLCS integrated differentiated instruction means subject areas are not taught in isolation. It also means that each child is challenged to reach beyond their comfort level. This approach allows staff a multiplicity of options to bring out the best in all students. SLCS staff and administrators sincerely believe that every child can learn and that it is their duty to develop thinking and productive citizens of the republic.
SLCS staff actively teaches positive character traits and behavior. The moment a child enters the campus they are greeted with a handshake, high-five, or hug by the principal. Each child is recognized and known by name. This is but one of the components of an intentional effort to teach children to care about their school, their community, and each other. Courteous and respectful discussions are a vital part of each child’s day, every day.
Methods of Instruction
Within the classrooms teachers use a variety of instructional methods. While anchored by state common core standards and anticipated student outcomes (derived from benchmarks), teachers recognize that each child is different and aim to reach each child through differentiated instruction and cross curricula teaching methods. Because of this, one may observe group instruction, lecture, demonstrations, independent learning, collaborative learning, cooperative learning, and project based learning at the school. These methods are supported, not directed by, the basal texts and materials obtained for the instructional program.
The use of multiple methods of instruction is designed to permit the teacher to meet the needs of individual students as measured by the Sequoia assessment tools. This is accomplished through differentiation and permitting teachers to use a variety of instructional methods (monitored through the supervision and evaluation tool used with all staff members who interact with students at the instructional level). Instruction is targeted to each child’s need. This does not mean that whole group instruction is never used. Its use however, is typically limited to the introduction of new concepts, core standards and broad activities.
Methods of Assessment
SLCS administers quarterly benchmarks. Benchmarks are used to identify areas of student growth and concern for the purpose of guided instruction, interventions, and enrichment. Special emphasis is placed on the bottom and top 25% on each assessment to determine intervention and enrichment opportunities. A data folder for each student is used by the principal and the teacher to identify students and specific intervention and enrichment techniques based on this data.
SLCS Guidelines Regarding Assessments
SLCS uses “To the Core” Math (TTC), a proprietary Sequoia Schools assessment program aligned to the Arizona Common Core Mathematics Standards. TTC assessments include a Scope and Sequence for each grade level. Micro-assessments and benchmarks in TTC are aligned to each objective in the Scope and Sequence. A skills test given each quarter assesses a student’s knowledge of the basic math skills at each grade level. All teachers are required to administer the TTC each quarter and are encouraged to break it up into two sessions because of the length of the test. The correlation of TTC to AIMS has been independently assessed as between 70-83% (verification done by ASU).
Training: Sequoia trains teachers each year on the administration of TTC and how to use the disaggregated data. All teachers are strongly encouraged to use the “micros” in TTC each week to validate that each student has obtained proficiency for the specific state standard taught. Teachers are evaluated twice a year on Sequoia’s evaluation tool to determine their proficiency (on a 1-5 scale rubric) at assessing and promoting their students’ mathematical abilities. Teachers receiving a low score (less than a 3) are required to use the weekly “micros” and report their efforts to the principal. There are daily and weekly follow ups with a teacher at this level.
Scores Matter: All teachers that do not have at least 60% of the students meeting the standard during the first quarter, are required to use the TTC template for reporting weekly results to their principal. All data for each child and each standard is kept current and sent to the principal each Friday. In addition to TTC, all teachers are required to participate in administering Math Facts assessments four times a year.
Procedural Requirements: SLCS uses DIBELS, DORA, McCall Crabbs and teacher observation to assess reading performance. The principal monitors benchmark results and provides feedback to the teacher regarding interventions and activities. Teachers are highly aware of this assessment data and use it to inform their instructional decisions and help struggling students get up to grade level. Students and their parents should also be highly aware of the student’s assessment scores and progress. Benchmark testing is done at least once a quarter. However, for struggling students, progress monitoring with greater frequency is required. Below is a summary of the guidelines used to determine assessment frequency and interventions:
• All teachers are required to administer DIBELS, DORA and McCall Crabbs.
• All teachers must demonstrate that they can administer assessments with fidelity. Training is provided yearly to ensure the fidelity of this administration. It is also monitored at the site level.
• Benchmarks are administered to students four times a year.
• Students who have been identified as needing Intensive support (as per DIBELS) MUST have progress monitoring once a week.
• Students who have been identified as needing Strategic support (as per DIBELS) MUST have progress monitoring at least every other week.
• Students who have been identified as needing Core support (as per DIBELS) only need to be assessed when the tri-annual benchmarks are administered.
• The principal is required to ensure that every teacher has been trained in how to use the disaggregated data provided by DORA.
Intervention and Enrichment Strategies Used
Intervention and enrichment teams are designed around individual student needs as identified by data, assessment tools, and teacher recommendation. These team members are part of SLCS’s Enrichment and SST Teams. Interventions and enrichment focus on deficiencies and strengths identified by assessment and teacher recommendations.
Students who display strengths in a particular area are given more challenging and thought-provoking assignments and learning opportunities to insure that they achieve their maximum academic potential.
SLCS uses the RTI process recommended by the Arizona Department of Education and provides intensive intervention to every student who scores below grade level as determined through assessments.
Student Study Team (SST)
If a 45 Day Screening Report reveals a potential special educational circumstance, a Student Study Team (SST) meets and evaluates the need for interventions or testing. This process insures that each student’s needs are met in a timely manner. The SST consists of the classroom teacher, principal and assistant superintendent or their designees, classroom aide, and at least one other teacher. The SST creates means of intervention to assist students in need. The teacher is responsible and the principal oversees the implementation and monitoring of these interventions. A Response to Intervention (RTI) is prepared by the teacher and reviewed by the SST. RTI protocols are defined in policies and procedures at SLCS.
Procedural Safeguards as Related to SPED
If the SST concludes that further intervention or testing is needed, the principal contacts the Director of Special Education for Sequoia Schools to arrange a meeting and start the Multi-Educational Team (MET) process. The principal is familiar with each child’s special education program. All students are guaranteed a Free and Appropriate Public Education (F.A.P.E.).
The Special Education Team
The SLCS Special Education Team consists of the SST and at least one member of Sequoia’s SPED team. An IEP attendance form is used to list the Special Education Team members present at each IEP meeting. The LEA Representative for Sequoia Schools is the principal. This team approves the Special Education intervention and IEP.
Evaluation and Placement Team
The evaluation and placement team consists of the SST and the parent(s) or guardian(s). This team decides which evaluations will be used and designates placement of the student in the least restrictive environment.
Special Circumstances Used When Assessing Students and Providing Remediation
As noted in Sequoia’s Policies and Procedures under Special Education and English Language Learners (ELL), ELL students who have been assessed at or below the Emergent level may have a translator for the sole purpose of ensuring he or she has awareness of all that is being asked. The ELL coordinator has the final say on the level of support to be given during assessment administration. Sequoia’s Director of Special Education Services is required to identify and communicate the specific accommodations that may be required of special education students.
Students who have learning disabilities or who have low cognitive abilities (identified by testing) are usually not recommended for retention. Usually these students should go on to the next grade level and the teacher should be informed of their strengths and weaknesses. Possible interventions to aid these students include: adaptive education, cross grade grouping, mastery learning, cooperative learning, peer tutoring, resource room, etc.
Retention usually occurs before grade 3. Parental approval must be obtained. Discussions about retention begin in the late fall or January but no later than the March parent conference. In all cases the child being referred should have been identified as part of the lower 25th percentile and been a part of the targeted interventions process identified earlier. Factors that are taken into consideration include, but are not limited to: benchmarks, summative and formative assessments, character, social needs, academic concerns and parent and teacher input.
Target class sizes for grades are as follows:
• Kindergarten- 25 students with instructional assistant support
• 1st-2nd grade- 25 students
• 3rd-4th grade- 28 students
• 5th-6th grade- 30 students
In the younger grades, a high emphasis is placed on the academic and developmental needs of students. Having smaller class sizes allows the teacher to have ample opportunity to do individual check-ins with the students. As students become older, class sizes are expanded to teach students to be proactive and self-learning in a growing and independent society. Class size is driven by our desire to “Know each Child”.
Saxon Math Curriculum
The success of Saxon Math™ can be attributed to the program’s unique, effective, and research-based pedagogy, which helps students develop a deeper understanding of the Common Core State Standards and how to apply them.
Saxon Math’s incremental, distributive, and cumulative pedagogy ensures that students reach and retain deep mastery of the Common Core State Standards.
No matter how well students initially learn a concept, if they are not able to retain their learning, connect it to other concepts and apply it in problem solving situations, they have not reached mastery. Saxon Math is designed to support the long-term mastery and applications that will make a difference during testing, future education and careers.
• Incremental: Concepts are taught in small, approachable increments.
• Distributed: Increments are spread throughout the year, building in complexity, so that by the end of the year students have reached deep understanding and fluency.
• Cumulative: Practice and assessments include concepts from the most recent lessons as well as from earlier in the year, ensuring students retain all concepts and can make connections between them.
Independent research, longitudinal studies, and field testing provide clear evidence that Saxon Math shows immediate, dramatic, and sustained improvement for all students. (For more info: http://goo.gl/QGbKci) Preparing students for success in college and the future is the number one goal. Better results mean brighter futures.
Spalding Language Curriculum
Spalding’s Writing Road to Reading, a total language arts program, integrates essential research-based components, an educational philosophy, and a methodology consisting of time-tested principles of learning and instruction.
The Spalding Method is:
Students learn the purpose for every task and are active participants throughout Spalding lessons. Daily observations and assessments enable teachers to tailor instruction to meet each child’s individual needs: English Language Learners of all ages, Special Needs Students and Gifted. Thus, differentiated instruction is embedded in The Spalding Method.
Spalding teachers believe that students’ physical and mental well-being is a primary concern and that all children can learn.
Spalding’s Kindergarten to Sixth Grade Teacher Guides provide 32 weeks of:
• Spelling lesson objectives
o Phonemic awareness
o Phonics with handwriting
o Spelling rules
o Writing high-frequency vocabulary words in a notebook
• Writing lesson objectives
o Meaning and usage of the same high-frequency spelling words
o Parts of speech
o English conventions
• Reading lesson objectives
o Literary appreciation
o Text fluency
o Text structure
o Listening and reading comprehension strategies