How our Program Works

Why Sora

At Sora, we help our students make better, more informed choices about their next career steps–be it college, a job, research, grad school, or anything else they choose.

We are intentional about putting the interests of students first and using them to create projects for students to learn real skills. They explore what interests them first. Then, once they’ve narrowed down a few areas they want to dive deep into, we work with them to increase their understanding of the subjects and build portfolios of hands-on projects and work.

From new forms of assessment to giving students real agency to make their own academic decisions, we’ve designed our school to accelerate students toward their wildest dreams.

What makes Sora special

Hear from the students themselves what makes Sora truly special and different from any other high school.

Our unique virtual program

Sora is a project-based learning environment where students can start their own projects, choose their own timeline, and set their own evaluation metrics. We follow a learning model where our teachers serve to challenge students, structure individual curriculum plans, facilitate their learning, and help them complete their goals, not deliver boring lectures.

Effectiveness of Project-Based Learning

According to a study on comparing student performance in cooperative learning versus traditional lecture-based learning, students who learn through projects and small group discussion perform significantly better than lecture-based students in both recall and problem solving.

Students Learn Independence and Self-Motivation

When students first enroll, these projects are designed by the faculty and center on exposing students to this new paradigm of learning and its processes. As they advance through the program, students can start designing their own projects based on their interests–in turn, the faculty keep them accountable to their goals and ensure rigor and breadth in their work. It is important to give students agency and responsibility in their learning, as shown in this meta-analysis conducted by a research team on the effects of too much external control on young students.

Throughout the program, we incorporate as much exposure to real world application as possible. While students are exposed to a holistic set of academic standards, they also learn important soft skills like design thinking, time management, leadership, communication, and more.

Students Don’t Take Tests

We believe traditional tests only spot check random standards and are a poor measure of true student progress. Learn more about our curriculum here.

We’re intentional about putting student interests first and using them to create projects for students to learn real skills. Our Learning Experts help students design their projects so they can use them to learn relevant topics for that specific career or field and the required high school academic subjects. At Sora, students demonstrate their knowledge and competency through their projects, work in Learning Expeditions, and various learning platforms.

Mastery-Based Assessment

We don’t chunk subjects together like Math I or English II. Instead, we let students lead with their own projects and when they finish, we take what they did and determine what academic credit they have earned. They learn organically, not through a stale sequenced curriculum. As students complete projects, we track their credits so that they can graduate on time and apply to college if needed. This is done through our mastery-based learning system. According to research studies on the effectiveness of mastery-based learning, it not only has cognitive and achievement outcomes, but also improves students’ confidence in learning situations, school attendance rates, involvement in class sessions, attitudes toward learning, and a variety of other affective measures.

Because we’re measuring individual credits, students can visualize their learning progress and where they need to spend more time for mastery. Over time, students complete all of the academic subjects they need to graduate.

Each student has a periodic meeting with their counselor to check in on their academic life, graduation progress, personal and professional development, and overall experience at Sora.

A student’s counselor is their accountability partner and mentor. They’re meant to help provide the resources they need to succeed with their learning plan, but also help them develop personally and professionally to achieve it. They stay on top of a student’s goals, connect them with resources like our Mentor Network, and provide a personal perspective of the student in their collaboration with the learning experts.

Learning Experts serve two roles at Sora. They create and host Learning Expeditions, which are month-long active learning experiences for students held a couple of times per week and centered on a topic based on community level interest such as Saving the Coral Reefs or Ancient Hebrew Literature. They also meet with students to design and scope their independent projects, ensuring that they meet certain academic standards in their work and guiding them along their project throughout the cycle. Unlike traditional teachers, Learning Experts do not lecture to students–they focus on facilitating their learning by answering their questions, encourage discussion and active learning between students, and more.

Learn about our Humanities Learning Experts here.

Learn about our STEM Learning Experts here.

At Sora, as students narrow their fields of interest and begin to pursue more advanced work, they choose a Track from a wide range of career fields. Tracks are led by Track Advisors who come from industry and often have multiple years of experience in that particular field. Our system is designed to cater to the students who are looking to deeply explore their selected field and want to receive focused mentorship and resources.

In Tracks, students work on guided industry-focused projects, receive career mentorship, and explore their chosen field. Students participate in Tracks while also working on their core academic requirements through their independent projects and Learning Expeditions.

Learn more about our Tracks program here.

career mentorship

At Sora, we help students develop professional communication skills and the tools to build their own personal networks. At the end of their education, our students will be able to think critically, collaborate effectively, and handle complex problems. **We have built a network of 50+ expert mentors** that are eager to share their experience with our students. We also have a large network of local businesses that provide meaningful internship opportunities. Our mentors realize that they didn’t have the best high school experience and are eager to help our high school generation have a better experience with more practical, hands-on career advice.

Our program was designed with feedback from college admissions officers across the country. Universities look for students with demonstrated diligence, critical thinking skills, and focus on their field of study. At Sora, we prepare students with the skills needed to succeed in the future economy and help them dive deep into their areas of interest.

Academic Credit Mapping

When projects are completed, the corresponding core subjects and standards that were completed will be checked off on the student’s profile. Over time, students at Sora will complete all of the required academic subjects for high school, including but not limited to Math, Science, English, History, and more. Learn more about our curriculum here.

Transcripts

A Sora transcript consists of 2 main parts. Students will have a project portfolio outlining each of their projects and experiences. We will translate this experience to tangible work and leadership experience, as well as include the completed credit sheet, down to the standard level, for college applications. Learn more about our transcript here.

SAT and ACT Preparation

Students are required to take either the SAT or ACT in their 3rd year at Sora. Despite not having traditional assessments such as tests in our program, we will provide world-class test preparation through additional programming and instruction to ensure students perform to the best of their abilities on these standardized tests.

College Counseling

As students approach graduation, our counselors work with college-bound students on their goals and plans after leaving Sora. We help students navigate higher education opportunities and begin focusing their projects and portfolios around their intended fields of study. Our counselors will help students with their college application and ultimately prepare them to graduate Sora.

Sora offers a structured yet flexible schedule (the above image is an example student schedule). 

The schedule at Sora generally ranges from 9AM to 3PM, with some differences for students in different time zones. Our program blends synchronous and asynchronous learning: Learning Expeditions, House standup and checkpoints, and school wide meetings and events are synchronous, and project work and work for Learning Expeditions are asynchronous. Our schedule style prepares students to become more independent over time and to succeed in more self-directed environments such as college and the workplace in their futures.

Throughout the week, we have all synchronous activities (no traditional curriculums like recorded videos or tests), Learning Expeditions, and clubs. The majority of the time on the online days is dedicated to students doing independent/group interest-based project work.

We use programs like Discord and Zoom to foster our online community of learners. This allows students to quickly create channels and maintain the conversations and groups they care about.