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Our baseline curriculum is rooted in the same academic standards that students learn in a traditional high school. In a traditional school, they learn these through lecture-based classes. We’ve taken those 22 or so subjects and broken them down into their individual academic standards. There are 2 things we do to ensure that they learn them and cover all of the subjects.
To learn the foundational concepts and gain a base understanding of the standards, we have students work on online learning platforms like Khan Academy along with our Learning Experts. Once they’ve been exposed, the students use projects for application and to demonstrate competency. When a student works on a project, they mark which academic standards they’re learning in their project plan.
For example, if a student is a building a rocket, they’re going to learn things like trigonometry, some elements of physics, and other related standards. Over time, we cover all of the subjects of English, Science, Math, History, and others so that they can graduate on time and apply to any college that they choose to.
For more information, please refer to our curriculum guide.
Sora is a mastery-based system. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s a way to continuously assess students, as opposed to the spot checking method of traditional grading. That means that students at Sora aren’t subject to a high stakes testing environment. If they do a project and fail to demonstrate they’ve done it properly or learned the embedded academic standards, they can always try again and improve.
In the mastery system, we assign students a number based on the level of competency they’ve demonstrated in that particular standard. On that 0 to 3 scale, 0 means they have no idea what the concept is, 1 means they have a general understanding of the concept, like its definition, 2 means they’ve been exposed to the concept multiple times, and 3 means they’ve applied that concept and have demonstrated that they know how to use it in a specific context.
If and when students apply to college, we use the Mastery Transcript Consortium’s format, which is a collection of top schools in the US on the mastery system that all use the same mastery transcript so colleges understand the rigor and nature of the programs, like our own.
Learning Expeditions are active learning experiences designed by our Learning Experts. These expeditions are held a couple of times per week and center on a topic based on community level interest.
An example of an expedition is one our STEM Learning Expert is holding at the start of the school year: it’s called The World Ocean, and in this expedition students explore the world’s oceans and the hydrosphere and have to justify the designation of a new Marine Protected Area (MPA) in order to protect the ocean in a certain scenario.
These expeditions are somewhat similar to a class, but they aren’t lectures. They’re socratic discussions, projects, labs, and things of that nature. They typically take place over the course of a few weeks, after of which the expeditions change and new ones are offered, sometimes on new topics, sometimes on further exploration of previous expedition topics.
Correct, we don’t use traditional tests for assessment at Sora. That being said, while we are idealistic in our educational philosophy, we are also very pragmatic in what it takes to prepare students for their futures.
For students who are college-bound, we prepare them to take standardized tests like the SAT and ACT. Older students take part in a test bootcamp, outside of their normal academic work, that lasts for a couple of months and involves learning test taking strategies and taking practice tests and drilling on practice questions. In doing so, we make sure to prepare them to do well on those tests.
The day to day schedule generally falls between 9AM and 3PM. However, it’s not like a traditional high school schedule, where students have block period schedules and are continuously sitting in class for several hours. It’s much more similar to college, where students will have some required meetings and expeditions and the like throughout the day, with breaks and gaps in between. Some days will be busier than others. We do this so that students have time for both synchronous activities and asynchronous work.
Yes, they certainly will be. Our assessment and approach may be non-traditional, but our program is rigorous where it counts and really pushes students. We still prepare them for standardized tests like the SAT and ACT. We also provide college preparatory services, helping them to complete their college applications, search for the right college for their intended field of study, and overall think about their future academic and career paths.
Additionally, we’ll reach out to the colleges and universities that the students want to apply to and do everything we can to strengthen their application and candidacy when the time comes.
The admissions process is 3 steps. First, we speak with you to understand what you’re looking for in your student’s education and if that aligns with our own expectations and what we provide.
Second, your student signs up for one of our Experience Sora virtual school visit events where they get to learn about our program firsthand by observing a learning expedition and meeting some students and faculty at Sora.
Third, we conduct a student interview over Zoom where we get to know your student and learn about their interests, learning style, potential career aspirations, and more.
After all of that, our team will render an enrollment decision and determine if your student will be a good fit for our unique program.
Yes! As part of our admissions process, we have students participate in one of our Experience Sora events. It’s essentially a virtual school visit, where they get to learn about our program firsthand by observing a learning expedition and meeting some students and faculty at Sora. There’s usually one every week, and you can sign up for the next event here.
Sora Schools is currently going through the final stages of the accreditation process and is a Candidate for Accreditation with NCA CASI, NWAC, and SACS CASI.
If your question isn’t answered above, we’d love to connect and talk more about your student and find out together if Sora is the right fit. Click below to schedule a call.