Q: What is a charter public school?
A charter school is a non-profit, tuition-free, independently operated public school granted greater flexibility in curriculum, staffing, and operations. Both Ascent Classical Academy of Douglas County and Ascent Classical Academy of Northern Colorado are authorized by the Charter School Institute.
- Receive state “per-pupil revenue” (PPR) and some local mill levy dollars but do not typically receive funding for capital expenses, which must be paid for from operational funding;
- Offer seats to children based on random lottery. Charter schools do not select children;
- Offer a variety of curricula, instructional styles, and sometimes differ in their philosophy toward education. Parents choosing a charter school as an option for their children doesn’t indicate a weakness in district run schools, but a preference for a different approach and focus for their child;
- Serve students with specials needs;
- Allow parents a choice in the education of their children! They are not right for everyone.
Q: What grades will the school serve?
Ascent Classical Academy of Durango, if authorized to open, will offer grades K-9 in year one, growing to a K-12 school within the next 4 years.
Q: Will Ascent Classical Academy of Durango serve students with special needs?
Yes, our schools serve students with special needs. Direct instruction, the structure and coherence of the Core Knowledge curriculum along with the Riggs phonics program are very effective and the school is likely to be able to support a broader spectrum of special needs. The focus of the school and its Student Services is to provide support and tools to enable all students to be successful in school and life.
Ascent Classical Academy will ask applicants if their children have special needs only after they have an accepted seat in the school. At that time, the school will review any Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) or 504 plans to determine the school’s ability to serve an individual student and ensure they will thrive and be successful. ACA will work closely with its authorizer to determine if the needs of a student might exceed the capability of the school and will communicate any concerns with parents/guardians.
Q: What is classical education?
The underlying philosophy of a good classical school differs from how most other schools are educate today.
Q: What are the core elements of the academic program?
Ascent Classical Academy takes a classical, liberal arts approach to educating young people, as described above. Other key elements of the academic program include:
- Core Knowledge sequence in grades K-8;
- Riggs, an explicit phonics approach to literacy. The school also requires a mastery of spelling and proper grammar as well as good handwriting and cursive;
- Singapore Math;
- Highly engaging, direct, teacher led instruction with increased use of Socratic techniques as students progress through the school;
- Primary source documents used to the maximum extent possible.
Q: Will Ascent Classical Academy of Durango require teachers to be licensed?
All Ascent Classical Academy teachers will be highly qualified.
Ascent Classical Academy will hire the most highly qualified teachers for our classrooms and seek out content experts.
After involved parents, it’s known that highly effective teachers, using an excellent, proven curriculum in the classroom, have the greatest impact on student success. Ascent Classical Academy seeks staff with expertise in their content area and the best teachers for each position may or may not be licensed teachers.
One of the automatic waivers granted charter schools by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) is a waiver from teacher licensure requirements (Colorado Revised Statutes 22-63-201), which most, if not all, charter schools in Colorado have. View a complete report of all waivers granted to charter schools throughout Colorado.
Rather than having licensed teachers, the state of Colorado allows charter schools to hire “highly-qualified” teachers. To earn this designation a teacher must have a college degree or other demonstrated expertise in a content area that person will be teaching. At the 6th grade level and below, a teacher may take a placement test. Details on the “highly-qualified” qualification is found on the CDE website.
This waiver allows Ascent Classical to hire a teacher with a master’s degree in Chemistry to teach science, or a retired college English literature professor to teach high school English. Liberty Common School in Ft Collins, the school that set the all-time ACT record in Colorado, does not have a single “licensed” teacher.
Q: What is the role of the Hillsdale College Barney Charter School Initiative?
Ascent Classical Academies collaborate with the Barney Charter School Initiative, a win-win for the school and families.
With assistance from the Barney Charter School team, Ascent Classical Academy is replicating existing, highly successful classical, liberal arts schools in Colorado, such as Golden View Classical, Liberty Commons, and Vanguard Classical (Colorado Springs) Academies.
Rather than starting from ground zero to recreate these schools from scratch, our group initiated a partnership with the Barney Charter School Initiative at Hillsdale College. Hillsdale College is a national leader in liberal arts education and has provided help to K-12 schools across the country to create high-quality classical, liberal arts programs.