HIGHLIGHTS OF K – 8TH GRADE PROGRAM
FSAPS Students Awarded by TAG-ED at Google Headquarters for their Achievement in Web Challenge Competition
FSAPS offers students a rigorous education in a tailored learning environment. In addition to our high entrance standards, grade level placement decisions are multi-faceted, weighted more on student ability and social maturity than their age. This individualized student placement process allows FSAPS to more fully develop a student’s potential, assess their needs, and provide a more challenging academic curriculum with the highest level of opportunity. We find that the biggest discrepancies between age, knowledge, and typical corresponding grade level placement occur most often in elementary grades, although it does happen in higher level grades, too. To address this, we have instituted accelerated math curriculums, higher level math placement, and used progression by placing students in advanced grades. Due to their young ages, we must tailor the solution to meet the individualized needs of a student, taking into account their maturity level, social development, parent feedback, classroom observations, and the general happiness of the student.
FSAPS has elected to use a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) curriculum platform to meet the growing demand for higher level logic and reasoning skills that will be necessary for the future success of our students.
We offer the following areas of study to all students in grades Pre-K through 8th grade:
Offered Daily: Math, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Reading, and World Language
Offered Weekly: Computer Literacy, Music, Arts, Robotics, and Physical Education.
This art piece is created by FSAPS 8th Grader, Elaine Wen
FSAPS has elected to follow common core standards when applicable. Otherwise, state and/or national standards are followed. One advantage of being a private school is that we are able to adjust our curriculum to better meet the needs of our students. For example, in 8th grade, we cover a Georgia Studies curriculum, but have expanded it to include key U.S. history events, such as the American Revolution and the Civil War, to make better use of this one-hour instructional period.
Beginning last year FSAPS, added one hour of robotics instruction a week to all grade level curriculums. To support this program, there is an assigned robotics room at the school where students work on designing and programming robots. Also this year, we added foreign language studies to the elementary curriculum effectively expanding foreign language studies to all grades. FSAPS offers both Turkish and Spanish foreign languages. Foreign language is offered one hour per day Pre-K through 8th grade.
Kris Rinne, senior vice president of network technology at AT&T Labs was our CMP Speaker.
Additionally, we work to develop student presentation, writing, organization, and time-management abilities from the earliest grades, so that our students are well-prepared for all their future endeavors. Students develop these skills through the completion of four course-specific long term projects per year, academic teams, and individual competitions. Often long-term projects require research, visual aids, oral presentations, as well as, written reports. Our middle school students are adept at using computers and ipads for research and preparing computerized presentations. To obtain the best results possible and clearly communicate project requirements, all teachers are required to use rubrics for projects and/or assignments when applicable to clearly inform students of performance expectations and grading criteria. Additionally, some projects, such as science fair and social studies fair, may be guided by instructional books assembled by their teachers. These instructional project booklets and rubrics prepare our students to submit quality work. These skills will prepare our students for high school and college level projects.
Our school, also, integrates a character education program into the FSAPS middle grade’s curriculum to further the development of strong characters that embody integrity and high ethical values. In elementary grades, we use Bucket Fillers for positive reinforcement, to resolve negativity, and eliminate bullying attitudes. These programs are critical to furthering our vision of a safe environment that celebrates diversity and to create a culture of civic responsibility.
Technology Team Atended “Code of Hour ” Event at Microsoft Headquarters
In addition to our challenging and rigorous curriculum, we continually seek opportunities to help our students develop their potential and interests. FSAPS provides the Stanford University Education Program for Gifted Youth to all grades and has set goals for participation and improvement. This program is designed to challenge and move students to the next level in their academic abilities.
FSAPS, also, offers many academic teams and after-school clubs to complement core academic studies, enhance social development skills, and/or allow for students to explore and develop specialized interests. After-school, clubs, activities, and recreational sports are offered from 3:35pm to 4:20pm Students in grades Pre-K through 8th may choose one or more of the FSAPS after-school options in which to participate. Due to different interests, knowledge, competency, and maturity levels, these options are divided among four age groups, Pre-K & Kindergarten, 1st & 2nd, 3rd through 5th, and 6th through 8th.
Academic teams are considered a significant factor in the success and development of each student, so they are supported and encouraged by the administration, faculty, and parents. Over eighty percent (80%) of all FSAPS students compete in at least one academic team. Current, academic teams include Math Olympiad, Science Olympiad, Model UN, Robotics, Chess Team, Lego Team, Future City, Destination Imagination, and Technology Team. Many of our students, also, participate in individualized competitions, such as Geo Bee and Spelling Bees. All FSAPS students participate in annual school-wide science and/or social studies fairs during the first semester. Science fair participation begins in Pre-K, while participation in the social studies fair begins the 4th grade. These teams and competitions provide the opportunity for students to further their knowledge and skills in the areas of math, science, technology, language arts, computers, robotics, foreign language, and the social sciences.
Model UN Team, the Best Delegation Award winners, at the Int’l Model United Nations Building in New York
As an integral part of the broader community, FSAPS organizes and hosts three major academic competitions annually. These are MathGeniuses, the Regional Technology Fair for private and homeschool students, and, for the first time, ScienceGeniuses. FSAPS is the developer and owner of both the MathGeniuses and ScienceGeniuses competitions. These academic invitational competitions were created to provide another opportunity for our students to compare their skills to others and promote academic growth.
The school’s small population, student teacher ratio, and class sizes enable us to provide challenging, equitable, and individualized education to our students. As an example, in 2nd grade we currently offer four (4) different levels of Math education. These classes are 2nd grade advanced math, 2nd grade accelerated math, 3rd grade math, and 4th grade math. Depending on their assessment level, 2nd grade students take one of these math classes. The same accommodations are available in other grades depending on students’ needs.
FSAPS Technology Team Hold a Robotics Cabin Camp in Helen, Georgia
While the majority of FSAPS students perform at around the 90th percentile and higher in nationally normed tests, FSAPS, also, has some on-level students, ESL students, and students who need extra support. Before-school and after- school tutoring, weekend studies, school day support classes, and tools such as Stanford EPGY, ETS Writing, and the Accelerated Reader programs are provided to support student learning.
FSAPS Students Using Stormwater Floodplain Simulation System
We systematically and continuously monitor and adjust curriculum, instruction, and assessment to ensure vertical and horizontal alignment. The feedback from assessments, students, parents and collaboration team members are regularly used to improve the educational program. Some examples of adjustments from previous years to this year are the change of the elementary math curriculum from Everyday Math to Math in Focus, addition of College Mentorship Program, addition of Stanford EPGY Program, and addition of ETS Criterion Writing. Also, we improved the FSAPS Comprehensive Assessment Plan, increased elementary school hours, added daily foreign language program starting Pre-K, and added a weekly robotics class for all grades.
Elementary Students Visited Art Barn
The FSAPS Comprehensive Assessment Plan guides our efforts in assessing and monitoring the academic performance of students and faculty in a systematic way. It is reviewed annually and may be revised at any time. Grading and reporting are based on clearly defined criteria and are consistent across grade levels and courses. Over the course of the school year, each student receives eight official report cards communicating their academic and behavioral progress to parents. FSAPS report cards include ten to twelve pages of comprehensive data for a better understanding of student grade averages. Within an academic course, grading is determined by a weighted scale of several different targeted learning areas, including conceptual understanding, application of knowledge, process skills, and responsible for own learning. Regardless of grade level, the weight scale of these targeted-learning areas is the same. During each reporting period, FSAPS teachers are required to have at least one assignment under each targeted learning area to ensure adequate assessment for a fair evaluation of students’ performance. An explanation for the process used to determine student course averages is shared with our families through course syllabuses, the student/parent handbook, and FSAConnect.
Fulton Science Academy Private School holds students to high standards both academically and behaviorally. Two different nationally normed tests are used in kindergarten through 8th grade to measure academic progress regularly. The nationally normed Iowa Assessment is administered annually during the month of May to assess how well the school and students have performed during the academic year. Additionally, the nationally normed MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) test is administered three times each school year during the months of August, December and May. The MAP assessment is used as our school’s benchmark examination tool to evaluate the schools’ progress toward the fulfillment of the academic goals set forth in the School Improvement Plan. The detailed MAP Descartes Continuum Reports helps to guide classroom instruction, as well as, analyze the weaknesses and strengths of individual students. The Descartes Continuum Reports provides detailed data regarding individual student performance on specific concepts and skills within a core subject area. This affords teachers the opportunity to refine student tutoring plans, assign reinforcement studies, or to readdress a given concept to a class as a whole when the reports indicates a need for improvement in a given skill or concept. These reports are, also, shared with parents along with the interpretational guide. FSAConnect provides parents with both real time academic progress and behavioral information. FSAPS developed its behavioral code system and it was integrated into the FSAConnect system, so that parents could stay informed regarding behavioral issues that might arise. At present, FSAPS rarely has behavioral incidents that require anything more than teacher reinforcement of the school’s behavioral code at a classroom level.
FSAPS Lego League Team Enjoying Their Weekend Study as They Prepare for Super-Regionals
Through the FSAPS online portal, FSAConnect, teachers are able to communicate assessments, grades, missing assignments, study guides, rubrics, and class handouts to both students and parents. Students are able to access FSAConnect through their iPads to keep themselves organized and prepared for their classes. Every day at 5 pm, the FSAConnect system sends parents an email communicating their children’s academic summary, recently graded assignments, and missing assignments, if any. Additionally, the current report card feature on FSAConnect allows parents to create an unofficial report card populated with current data, so that at any time they have a tool with which to discuss real-time academic progress with their student.
Our school administration is committed to constant improvement. A component of realizing this goal is the monitoring and evaluation of faculty members to assure adherence to the school’s values and beliefs, utilization of the approved curriculum, that they consistently monitor their students for areas of opportunity and use early intervention when necessary, and that they conduct themselves in a professional manner. FSAPS teachers consistently adhere to and demonstrate content specific standards of professional teachers including demonstrating professional knowledge of the subject(s) that they teach, utilize best practices for instructional planning, effectively engage students, systematically measure and assess student performance, create a student-centered classroom environment, participate in professional growth, act with integrity and ethics, and communicate effectively. School administrators evaluate faculty members twice a year utilizing classroom observation assessment tools. In the past, FSAPS utilized its own faculty assessment tool, however going forward we have elected to use the ELEOT form. During the second semester of this school year, we will use the ELEOT form. Also, faculty members prepare an end of year self-assessment that includes sections to address both strengths and weaknesses. These teaching evaluations provide information for collaboration team leaders, assistant principals, academic team head coach, gifted coordinator and mentor teachers provide assistance, coaching, mentoring, and/or support for all faculty members.
Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project Visited FSA
Regular and systematic meetings of FSAPS staff groups allow the school to continually seek ways to improve, reflect on achievements, identify opportunities, formulate plans, and refocus for continuous forward progression. The FSAPS administrative team, elementary collaboration faculty team, and the middle grades collaboration faculty team, as well as, the Fulton Science Academy Private School staff, as a whole, meet weekly. The elementary grades collaboration team meets on Fridays, the middle grades collaboration team meets on Tuesdays, and the school staff meeting is held every Tuesday. These meetings allow teachers to collaborate both horizontally and vertically to better meet the needs of students. Additionally, grade level teachers and/or subject specific teachers may meet as needed to align lesson plans, discuss combining classes for a specific lesson, discuss student work, and/or reflect on methods to engage students for better retention of material. FSAPS teachers, also, meet to collaborate with each other regarding interdisciplinary work to increase retention of coursework. Collaborative efforts among faculty members clearly results in better student results and instructional practices.
Fulton Science Academy Private School is fortunate to have involved and supportive families. It is our goal to have parent membership increase each year as we maintain and continue to build a culture of partnership among our stakeholders. Efforts to create and/or continue a partnership with our parents begins with the May orientation meeting and continues with orientation day, the welcome picnic, and the welcome coffee events held by the PVO at the beginning of school year. Families are invited to attend school activities designed to celebrate both school and/or student successes, to engage in performance observations, to volunteer at various events, and/or to participate in school activities. FSAPS parents, also, can serve on the School Improvement Team or in PVO leadership roles. Our families, also, may directly take part in actively supporting their student’s education. Examples of this are coaching a Science Olympiad team, volunteering as a classroom parent or in the library, or scoring papers at the MathGeniuses competition.
Middle School Students Visited Emory University and Used The Da Vinci Surgical Robot System
FSAConnect is the tool teachers use to keep families well-informed about the academic and behavioral progress of their children. Additionally, parent conferences are held throughout the school year to discuss specific issues and student progress. Fulton Science Academy Private School uses the school website, weekly newsletter, Twitter, Facebook, and the FSAPS blog to keep families informed about school events and activities.
The school has created a formal structure whereby each student is well known by at least one adult advocate. This program is called the College Mentorship Program. Through this program, about ten (10) students meet with their college mentors every Wednesday between 2:55 and 3:30 to work on academic proficiency, counseling and guidance, and college and career readiness. As part of this program, students, also, attend bi-weekly speaker assemblies that cover topics such as leadership, organizational skills, presentation skills, personal budgeting, financial literacy, and conflict resolution.
Science Olympiad Team Won 3rd Place at State
Professional develop of our staff is critical to our philosophy of continuous improvement. FSAPS teachers are currently participating in a gifted endorsement program from Metro RESA. Since fifteen (15) of our teachers are attending this program, Metro RESA kindly offered to hold the program at our school and tailored it for our specific needs. All teachers attending the program will receive their gifted endorsements in May 2015. We will continue to offer this gifted endorsement program on an on-going basis to all new teachers that join the FSAPS faculty team. As part of this program teachers learn effective and engaging teaching methods and practices to better serve the needs of students. Additionally, teachers and administrators are provided other professional development opportunities based on the needs of both the school and the individual. As with the gifted endorsement program, FSAPS continually seeks opportunities for our faculty and administration to develop professional skills that will yield improved student results, more effective instructional methods, and an improved learning environment. Our school, also, encourages administration and faculty members to stay current on the latest research, materials, and tools available to improve student results.
Elementary Students Visited Atlanta Botanical Garden
Fulton Science Academy Private School does not have the resources or provide an environment to formally serve special needs students in an effective manner. However, for students that meet our enrollment criteria and may need some additional support services it is our policy to make reasonable accommodations provided that the parents take financial responsibility for all additional services and the accommodations made do not interfere with classroom instruction and/or require additional staffing. For example, we can provide room and make schedule adjustments for speech therapy, occupational therapy, extra tutoring for ESL students, etc.
Middle Grades Orlando Trip
Through our administrative meetings, collaboration meetings, PVO meetings, student council, and School Improvement Team meetings, it is our goal to sustain and/or improve on the aforementioned items to better serve the needs of students.
Middle Grades Washington Trip
Fulton Science Academy Private School’s culture demands that all stakeholders constantly look to the future and seek ways to improve curriculum, instructional practices, assessments, communication tools/practices, and the school environment to create higher achievement levels and expanded opportunities for our students. As a community, we strive to always reach for the next goal and find better tools and practices to help us obtain it.