The goal of education is to impart knowledge and create academic achievement and character development. Education is becoming less about gaining answers, and more about learning how to analyze, validate, evaluate, and use available information. Education is academic development and the need for character development, critical thinking, working together, and social skills. The goal of education should be to teach how to find the right answers, how to ask the right questions, research and work together to find the answers. Charter schools have taken this challenge to heart and developed their curriculums to meet this need.
Academic achievement and character development in charter schools comes from teachers who use project-based learning assignments and hands-on learning. Charter school educators guide students to work well as a team and their goal is to create experiences that will serve students today and in the future.
Charter schools first enjoyed a great deal of autonomy over school design, organizational structures, teaching methods, and curriculum development. Charter schools challenged the traditional way public schools taught and the curriculums they used. They turned their attention to helping those students who do not fit the public school mold.
Charter schools are challenged to look into and find innovative methods for teaching science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Students are encouraged to build an interest and comfort level with technology and innovation through adapted education and focused learning goals. Academic achievement and character development activities in charter schools are developed around the skills of problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking.
Charter schools are more likely to achieve these goals by:
- Being focused around specific instruction designs,
- Offer different grade configurations and smaller classes, spend more time on instruction and teaching children to learn actively,
- Customize support and learning for struggling or low-income, minority students,
- Offer pre-college coursework and courses to promote additional education and training for all students.
The Curriculum in Charter Schools
Charter schools are required to define their instructional approach in their charter school applications. Definitions in legal papers cause charter schools to think in concrete terms about how they approach teaching and learning in their school. These outlined teaching methods are used as a guidelines to keep charter schools accountable.
Many charter schools use a “special instruction approach” for self-paced instruction and open education. Specialized instruction in charter schools is often above the traditional public school approaches to specialized instruction.
Charter schools do offer a college-focused curriculum, but they also create their own college-prep programs rather than use more expensive national programs like the Advanced Placement curriculum. The pre-college curriculums in charter schools usually are a combination of individualized instruction, study-skills curriculum, tutoring, and counseling. Some charter school use extended school days to get students college ready.
Academic achievement and character development are defining phrases charter schools follow when developing their curriculum. Most charter schools are built from scratch, and the school founders take the opportunity to creatively develop the way they organize their curriculum. Charter schools have the freedom to change the school organization, time on task, and modify the class size.
Charter schools are developed to provide a balance of academic achievement and character development. To accomplish this, children in elementary (K-6) need academics, creative and expressive learning plus positive social skill development all wrapped up in a program that encourages enthusiasm for learning.
To further develop students in their academic and social careers, the junior high philosophy of American Prep is to continue academic study and to provide opportunities to develop talents in art, music, sports, drama, and debate. Students have the opportunity to develop character skills with opportunities in student government, legislative training, service learning, and social interaction.
The high school experience in charter schools and particularly American Prep further accelerates the academic achievement and character development model founded in the elementary grades. Students have the opportunities to further their learning in the science, technology, engineering, and math areas and develop skills in music, sports, drama, and debate. Character development is augmented by opportunities for student government, legislative training, service learning, and social interaction that is fun and valuable.
Educators and students recognize the need for individualized learning within their schools. Public schools depend on a uniform curriculum and standardized assessments. This approach may work for some students but doesn’t always translate into academic achievement and character development for other students.
Charter schools have been allowed to define and organize their own curriculum that meets the needs of their students. This flexibility is attractive to students and educators who recognize the need for individualized curriculum that accommodates diverse learning styles and caters to individual student interests.
Charter schools can create their own curriculum and education goals, but they are responsible for ensuring that their students are making progress. American Preparatory Academy understands its responsibilities and develops their curriculums to be student-friendly and academically responsible.