Network Charter School

Contents of Proposal

Eugene School District 4J Policy 7226.3

1.  The identification of the applicant, including name, address, and phone number; names, addresses, and phone numbers of all the officers of the corporation, documentation that the applicant is an established nonprofit organization under the laws of Oregon and has applied to qualify as an exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Review Code; and assurance that the applicant is not associated with a nonpublic sectarian school or a religious institution, or is otherwise religiously based.

Applicant:  Network Charter School

Board of Directors (Officers)

Kevin Jones
4740
Wendover St.
Eugene, OR 97404
 
(541) 461-3798

Wendy McKenzie (Secretary)
PO Box 3466
Eugene, OR 97403

(541) 543-9516

Anastasia Sandow 
123
Fir Lane  
Eugene, OR 97404

(541) 461-0101

Domenica Stewart
2470
Kincaid St.
Eugene, OR 97405

(541) 343-9314

Jan VanderTuin (President & Treasurer)
455 W 1st Ave.
Eugene, OR 97401

(541) 343-5568

David Wollner (Vice President)
1820
Walnut St.
Eugene, OR 97403

(541) 746-3023

Developers

Charles Hammond
686
Jean Street
Oakland, CA 94610

(510) 420-1187

Charles Hammond served as curriculum development consultant to the Network Charter School.  He is currently a Graduate Research Fellow with the Diversity in Mathematics Education center at the University of California, Berkeley.  He is working toward a Ph.D. in Education at Berkeley, and his areas of focus are learning theory and the enhancement of academic learning for underachieving students through work-based education.  Hammond consults with government and nonprofit agencies on curriculum development and intercultural education matters.  He has taught for 12 years in a variety of settings including university, grade school, community-based learning center, and an educational bicycle shop.  He has developed work-based alternative learning programs in community settings and occupational skills training programs for private industry.

Stacey Janssen
414
Knoop Lane
Eugene, OR 97404

(541) 344-1229

Stacey Janssen has been doing development work with the nonprofit community for over 10 years.  She began coordinating the development of the NCS in March of 2002.  Janssen is currently a board member for the River Road Community Organization, Friends of Buford Park and Mt. Pisgah, Camp Avalon, and the Materials Exchange Center for Community Art.  She holds a BA in Biology from Ripon College where she was a teaching assistant for hands-on courses in field biology.

Helen Park
5055 Nectar Way
Eugene OR 97405
(541) 343-5826

Helen Park has worked with alternative high school students for fifteen years, both as a teacher and a school administrator.  She was the founding head of Wellsprings Friends School, served as principal of the OutDoor School at Northwest Youth Corps, and an instructor for high school completion and GED preparation courses at Lane Community College.  She has a BA in Asian Studies, a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction, and an Oregon Administrative License.

Andy Peara
410 E. 34th Ave
Eugene OR 97405
(541) 349-9153

Andy Peara serves as a financial advisor and co-founder of the NCS. He is executive director of Nearby Nature and a nature guide.  Nearby Nature is a nature education organization dedicated to fostering appreciation of nature nearby as well as providing tools for ecological living.  Since serving as treasurer of the Village School, he has consulted to charter schools, including the Eugene Children’s Peace Academy.  Peara has taught math and computers to adults and children in Namibia, and served as a contributing author to the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Third Assessment (2001), particularly the chapter analyzing the impacts of climate change on the insurance industry.  He serves on the Citizens’ Planning Committee for the Whilamut Natural Area of Alton Baker Park.  He has a B.A. in English Literature from Yale University, a M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon, and has been a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries since 1992.

Leslie Rubinstein
79296
Repsleger Road
Cottage Grove, OR

(541) 942-0805

Leslie Rubinstein is an instructor at Lane Community College where she teaches reading and writing in the Academic Learning Skills Department and the Adult Basic and Secondary Education Department.  She has previously taught in both public and private high schools.  In her second term as a school board member, Rubinstein is currently Vice-Chair of the South Lane School District Board of Directors in Cottage Grove, OR.  She is serving as a consultant for the Network Charter School.  She was also a founding member of the Blue Mountain School Board of Directors from 1998-2001.  She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.

Audrey Schwartz
1050
Lorane Hwy
Eugene, OR 97405

(541) 345-9045

Audrey Schwartz was the Education Coordinator and an instructor at the Center for Appropriate Transport for the past year.  She currently works as an Academic Advisor at Lane Community College and a tutor at Jefferson Middle School.  Schwartz has a BA in Environmental Studies from Ramapo College where she was instrumental in revitalizing an Environmental Demonstration Facility and its hand-on education program.

Domenica T. Stewart
2470
Kincaid St.
Eugene, Oregon 97405

(541) 343-9314

Domenica is the Director of the Le Petit Gourmet Culinary Arts Program, an alternative education program offering an intensive curriculum in food service, entrepreneurship and small business.  Her program is designed to address the needs of the at-risk students, as well as the self-directed, aspiring culinary artist.  Domenica received her B.A. in Art and her B.F.A in Textiles from the University of Oregon.

Donata Stewart
777
S.W. Englewood Drive
Lake Oswego, Oregon 97034

(503)-244-4390

Donata has worked for 25 five years as a media specialist in the Portland Public School District.  She holds three degrees including master's degrees in curriculum and instruction and library science from the University of Oregon.  She has also received training in cyber school applications and produced the district's most comprehensive school Web Page.  She is a district innovator for internet research and technology integrated curriculum.  She has been an in-service presenter and seminar presenter at conferences for Oregon and Washington Education Media associations.  Her awards include: Portland State University Graduate School of Education's "Community Partner Award": multiple OEMA honors for exemplary library- media programs; "Impact II Award"; and the 2001 Portland Trailblazer's "Excellence in Education" award winner.

Jan VanderTuin
455 W.
1st Ave
Eugene, OR 97401

(541) 343-5568

Jan VanderTuin is the founder, Executive Director and a teacher of the Center for Appropriate Transport (CAT).  CAT is a nonprofit, publicly funded educational facility dedicated to the manufacture, use, and advocacy of sustainable transportation.  VanderTuin is an international leader in the bicycle design and manufacturing industry and in the sustainable agriculture movement.  He introduced the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) concept to the United States.  He is a dedicated educator, sharing his expertise with students for the past 10 years.  His commitment to improving the community and education for all students is also evident in his volunteer work including: founder and coordinator of the Lane Educational Alternatives Resource Network; co-founder and interim director of Skinner City Farm; and school choice committee member for the Schools of the Future program.  He is a co-founder of the Network Charter School and currently serves as the board president and treasurer.


Oregon Nonprofit Status:  A copy of the Network Charter School (NCS) articles of incorporation for an Oregon nonprofit corporation is provided (see Appendix B. Governance 1. Articles of Incorporation).  NCS has applied to the IRS for 501(c)(3) charitable status (see Appendix B. Governance 2. Letter Confirming Application).

Non-association with religious institutions:  NCS assures the State of Oregon that it is not associated with a nonpublic sectarian school or a religious institution, or is otherwise religiously based.

2.  The name of the proposed charter school: 

Network Charter School

3. A description of the philosophy and mission of the public charter school:

NCS Philosophy

We believe that education is an ongoing process, which is continuous with and inseparable from the students' community.  Reintegrating students with their community by situating the classroom in neighborhood organizations and workplaces improves students' ability to find their own strengths, interests, and connections with the community.  Students who direct their own learning are empowered to explore and expand their boundaries and are motivated to follow through with their educational plans.  In the NCS, students will be encouraged to take the risks necessary for healthy personal development.

The Network Charter School provides structure for students while allowing them to have freedoms beyond the classroom walls.  Education is not only about what one does for oneself, but is also about one’s relationships to friends, family, the community and the world at large.  The Network Charter School provides opportunities in a compassionate environment for experiential work projects in the community and stimulates students to take responsibility for their own learning.  Within this philosophical framework the NCS will provide without bias outcomes ranging from a high school diploma to self-directed study.

Networks in Education

Interdependent networks, or strategic alliances, have been used by businesses around the world for centuries.  Today they are increasingly used by small, local businesses and manufacturing clusters to leverage greater economic clout in the face of a growing global market dominated by large multinational corporations.  The advantage of a network structure exceeds the simple additive effect of multiple resource nodes.  The social interactions within networks—sharing of risk, decision-making, practice, trust, and mutual support—combine synergistically to generate higher levels of productivity, service quality, creative programming, problem solving, and innovative management than any of the individual members could produce independently or in a less strategic alliance.

The Network Charter School’s structure enables it to offer a complex variety of study options and course offerings, which would be impossible in a centralized institutional setting or a solitary, community-based organization.  By joining forces in a cooperative network small, local, educational groups will have the level of administrative capacity and instructional resources necessary to fulfill the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) academic standards while retaining their own organizational integrity and strengths.

The NCS network consists of a growing number of local educational organizations which, in their collective capacity, offer a wealth of study options and will accommodate a wide diversity of ways of learning, thinking, and knowing.  Table 1- NCS Member Organizations below shows the composition of the network as of March 2003.

Table 1- NCS Member Organizations

Name

Description

Founded

Le Petit Gourmet (LPG)

Culinary arts, special education, GED training, literacy training, remedial English and Math

1987

Nearby Nature (NN)

Environmental and nature studies

1992

Full Circle Farm (FC)

Educational farming project emphasizing sustainable agriculture

1996

Materials Exchange Center for Community Arts  (MECCA)

Community arts education utilizing recycled materials

2000

Skinner City Farm (SC)

Educational community gardening and youth farm program emphasizing local history (native and settler) and civics education

2001

Creative Minds (CM)

Personalized student academics including Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, Art, and Science

1994

Center for Appropriate Transport (CAT)

Bicycle-based school emphasizing fabrication, repair, journalism, photography

1992

The network is currently developing additional partnerships with Centro Latino Americano (programs to aid Spanish-speaking students); Oregon Public Networking (web-based instructional programs), and Lane MicroBusiness (youth entrepreneurship), LEAD (leadership skills), Lane Community Colleges (College Now Program), Planned Parenthood (self awareness and empowerment training), and Eugene District 4J Schools (educational programs, extracurricular activities, and special education arrangements).

Lane County is home to more nonprofits per capita than almost anywhere in the country.  Our community is on the forefront of social, environmental, and economic change.  We believe that the community, and especially the nonprofit sector, should be integrated into the public education system whenever possible.  By fully including the nonprofit sector into public education we will draw upon a relatively untapped resource.  One purpose of combining educational resources into a network is to foster a higher level of cooperation and interconnection.  A group of independent programs providing a diversity of educational options will offer an entirely different organizational dynamic than one large organization offering the same range of choices.

Community Need

According to Lane Educational School District, there are over 1,500 registered home schooled students in Lane.  More than 500 of these students reside in our district.  The educational philosophy of NCS is aimed at those students whose needs are outside of mainstream education, including home schooled students as well as college-bound and non-college-bound students who have needs not met by the current system.  District schools and community colleges in Lane County have had to make tough choices related to funding.  Many districts and community colleges have cut programs that provide for students interested in hands-on learning experiences or programs that help students who have fallen behind to succeed.  For example, Lane Community College’s High School Completion programs will end in the Spring of 2003.  NCS will offer options to the 100 or so students that will no longer have access to this program.  Traditional public schooling does a good job of preparing students who wish to pursue college and professional futures.  This career model defines success mostly in terms of a future that includes college and jobs in the mainstream economy.  The educational system works well for students on that track.  Other students, such as those who prefer manual skills, artistic, social activist, or alternative economic futures do not always find the support and preparation they need.  The Network Charter School not only nurtures these skills, talents and dreams; it puts them to use in projects that serve the community in a meaningful way.

The obstacles and complications within the daily lives of today’s youth have a serious effect on their education.  Issues including poverty, pregnancy, homelessness, domestic violence, substance abuse and severe depression seriously impact their self-esteem and their ability and motivation to succeed in school.  These issues often cause students to drop out of school or perform far below their capacity no matter their social or economic background.  According to the Department of Education 2001 State Summary Dropout Report, there were 578 dropouts from grades 9-12 in Lane County during the 2000-2001 school year.  Cited by state as some of the most common reasons for dropping out were: “falling too far behind in credits to catch up, working more than 15 hours per week, dysfunctional home life and/or lack of parental support for education,”(ODE – 2001 State Summary Report).  The Network Charter School will provide inviting, unbiased opportunities for students who might otherwise fall into these disturbing statistics or whose skills and interests are not as well-addressed by the existing system.  Our smaller class sizes, personalized education and positive adult contact will help students who are falling behind or lacking the support they need from their schools or families.

Historical background

Over the decades, Eugene’s schools have been consistently recognized throughout the state of Oregon for their academics and innovation.  This commitment to education has been expressed in myriad ways: foreign language immersion schools, public alternative schools, the International High School, Talented and Gifted programs, and excellent special education programs—all while keeping neighborhood schools alive and well.  Since Measure 5’s state property tax limitation has gone into effect, Eugene schools have had to make horrendous choices.  Two major teachers’ strikes in the past 25 years exacerbated the situation resulting in hurt feelings and more painful financial decisions.  Add to this several recent years of additional budget cuts from the state legislature, and it is understandable that school boards, teachers, administrators, parents, and students are all frustrated and frightened.  Class sizes have increased.  Fine arts and industrial arts programs have been cut.  Counselors have bigger caseloads. Eugene School District 4J reports that there is only one counselor for every 800 to 1000 middle and high school students (Urso).  Many extra-curricular activities require significant fees. To give individual students the kind of attention that they might have received ten years ago, would require more funding to maintain current compensation expectations.  Large-class instruction has become the norm in Eugene schools.

While many students continue to thrive on conventional, centralized, large-class instruction, a substantial number of students experience intense social and academic difficulties or failure.  Problems such as extreme boredom, inability to concentrate, disruptive behavior, and learning disabilities tend to occur more frequently in large secondary school classrooms.  These “dysfunctions” are attributed to a wide variety of clinical diagnoses.  Considering some of the developmental characteristics of adolescent children including high energy, the need to be physically active, and a natural appetite for learning through doing it is not difficult to understand why many students have a difficult time learning in a conventional classroom.  Students who have problems in traditional settings are often more successful in experiential learning situations where they are self-directed and self-motivated. 

The Network Charter School has grown out of the Lane Educational Alternatives Resource Network (LEARN) consortium and the nonprofit community in Eugene.  The needs of learners in our community, the private Alternative Education and Charter School laws and Eugene’s willingness to work with innovative education programs has inspired the creativity and commitment behind the NCS.  The value of the charter school will have a significant positive effect on students in Eugene School District 4J.  The Network Charter School will “catch” some of the hundreds of students who would otherwise leave school before completion.  We will bring back home school students who are at middle and high school level who have sought educational services outside of Eugene School District 4J. Eugene School District 4J has had to make difficult choices to cut staff and programs.  We are here to assist the students and Eugene School District 4J. 

Mission

The mission of the Network Charter School (NCS) is to provide students with: (a) an educational network: a supportive web of learning resources involving families, peers, teachers, community members, other schools, businesses and, in particular, nonprofit organizations that will allow students to discover their own strengths and interests, (b) work-based and project-based learning: community based options that emphasize learning through hands-on experiences in an environmentally and socially sustainable, compassionate, productive and supportive setting, and (c) self-directed study: the opportunity for students to design their own educational programs with the degree of guidance that best suits their needs, ranging from self-directed programs to carefully guided Personalized Educational Plans (see Appendix A. Curriculum 1. Network Graphic).

4.  A description of the proposed curriculum of the public charter school and a description of how the public charter school will implement ORS 329.045, Common Curriculum Goals Including Essential Learning Skills and Academic Content Standards.

Curriculum Description: Introduction

A local community connection underlies all aspects of the NCS curriculum.  Within this general curriculum structure, three key components further reflect and reinforce the NCS philosophy and contribute to a cohesive educational experience for both students and teachers:

Outcomes—students face an expanded range of outcome options and are encouraged to direct their own study program.

Emergent pedagogy—problem-based, emergent approaches to lesson content and instruction which enhances student’s motivation to learn.

Diverse learning community—opportunities for students to learn from diverse cultures and unfamiliar elements of their own community.

Outcomes

Six Outcome Options.  In order to equally serve students who want artistic or manual trade careers along with those who want a more traditional college/professional track, the NCS provides six principal outcome options (see Figure 1 - Network Charter School Outcomes Model).  A practice-oriented curriculum that is thematically linked and has an open structure (course offerings generally open to all students) supports the six outcomes equitably.  Students who would rather solve a mechanical or fabrication design problem, or would rather create a video production or write a story are given opportunities to learn academic content in the context of creative or practical projects.

Many students need time, guidance, and experience to develop a firm idea of what they want to study.  Others know what they want and need, with little or no guidance.  The more educational options that are available to students and the more those options connect with meaningful futures. The more students and families will be able to put together productive learning programs that fit their needs and interests.  Upon introduction to NCS, the student, parents/guardians, and the NCS Resource Coordinator will work together to determine which offerings will accommodate the student’s needs and interests most effectively.  With guidance from the Resource Coordinator the student will plan a program of study and write it into a Personalized Educational Plan (PEP).  The student and the Resource Coordinator will review the PEP on a regular basis to assess progress, select courses, discuss long-range goals, and modify the plan as needed.

Figure 1 - Network Charter School Outcomes Model
(click to enlarge)

Students at NCS will be able to choose from courses offered by partners of NCS (see Appendix A. Curriculum 1. Network Graphic).  Students first set an educational goal using one or more of the options shown above in Figure 1 – Network Charter School Outcomes Model.  Traditionally, the high school diploma with a CAM leading to college entrance would be the highest-level goal option.  In contrast, the NCS does not rank or discriminate amongst any of the outcomes since each student is expected to achieve an individually determined “best” outcome.  Success is measured in relation to students achieving an educational goal that represents a “personal best” accomplishment.

GED students, for example, will not comprise simply those students whose ability level might have prevented them from obtaining admission to college.  On the contrary, GED students are expected to include students whose abilities to do college-level work are so advanced that they opt for GED so that they will leave high school and enter college early, by the age of 16.  Another expected scenario for a GED student, based on many of the students currently enrolled in network member organizations and partners such as the Center for Appropriate Transport, Le Petit Gourmet Culinary Arts Program, Full Circle Community Farm and MECCA, is entry into a specialized trade school or apprenticeship program for advanced occupational skills training.  Each of the six options is described in detail below.

1.  High School Diploma.  NCS will offer a high school diploma to students who earn 22 credits with the following distribution:

3 language arts
2 math
2 science
3 social studies
1 health
1 physical education
1 applied arts/fine arts or second language
9 electives

What's required:

- A Personal Educational Plan (PEP)
- 22 credits with required distribution

Who will use this option:

- Students who want a traditional high school diploma along with access to the diversity of career-related options offered by NCS

NCS will offer academic classes, career-related classes through its partner school sites, and classes in which relevant academic learning is integrated into career knowledge.  For example, language arts credit could be awarded for a student working on an article for the state’s bicycling newspaper (Oregon Cycling Magazine) through CAT’s program; or science credit could be earned by a student doing field studies at a NCS farm site.  When articulated in a student's Personal Education Plan (PEP), NCS will provide credit for career-related learning experiences and work-study classes, and alternative or off-campus learning experiences.

2.  CIM/CAM. Students will begin working towards a CIM (Certificate of Initial Mastery) in middle school by compiling a portfolio of academic work samples.  In tenth grade, students will take the required CIM knowledge and skills tests, and they will have further opportunities to retake the tests through 12th grade if necessary. In order to achieve a CIM, students will also need to meet performance standards in Art, Second Language and Physical Education.

What's required:

- A Personalized Educational Plan (PEP)
- Demonstration of Extended Application (academic and career-related)
- Demonstration of Career-related knowledge and skills
- Demonstration of Career-related learning experiences
- Achievement of CIM performance standards through CIM/CAM assessment options

Who will use this option:

- Students who want a certificate proving their successful preparation for transition to the adult world through personalized learning, relevant academic learning, learning beyond the classroom and immersion in the adult world

Students will have the opportunity to work towards earning a CAM (Certificate of Advanced Mastery) during grades 9-12.  All NCS students, whether at middle or high school level, will participate in the basic requirements for CAM: a PEP, demonstration of extended application (both academic and career-related), demonstration of career-related knowledge and skills, and participation in career-related learning experiences beyond the typical classroom walls through immersion in the adult world of work and business.

The Network Charter School is well established to provide this outcome.  Many of the NCS programs align excellently with CAM educational reforms including “personalized learning, high academic expectations for all, relevant academic learning, post high school planning, learning beyond the classroom, and immersion in the adult world” (ODE, Certificate of Advanced Mastery).  Through its partners, NCS will offer elective classes and work-study experiences in four of the CAM frameworks: Natural Resources, Industrial and Engineering Systems, Arts and Communication, and Business and Management (See Appendix A. Curriculum 2. Certificate of Advanced Mastery).

3.  GED. A GED (General Education Diploma) is earned by passing five separate tests in Reading, Writing, Math, Social Studies, and Science.  The diploma is awarded by the national GED Testing Service, and students must be 16 or older to take the tests.  Despite the stigma that it is less of an accomplishment than a high school diploma, the GED is a significant document for many employers, colleges, universities and students themselves.

What's required:

A Personalized Educational Plan (PEP)
Passing the five national GED tests given at LCC or UO

Who will use this option:

- Students who want to spend less than four years in high school
- Students who cannot accumulate enough credits to earn a high school diploma

Eugene School District 4J is currently participating in the GED Option Waiver Program, which allows students at specific Eugene School District 4J schools to take GED tests while they are still enrolled in school.  NCS will participate in this arrangement and will be included on Eugene School District 4J's list of schools with the GED Option Waiver Program.  This will allow students who are 15 or older to take GED preparation classes at NCS as well as other classes of their choice.  Students may take the GED tests at Lane Community College or at the University of Oregon.  Under the GED Option Waiver Program, students who have received a GED may still enroll for classes at NCS.

Many colleges, certificate programs, businesses and parents consider a GED diploma equivalent to a high school diploma.  Some universities have an average GED score requirement for admission (the GED is now scored using the same scale as the SAT).  The University of Oregon, for instance, will accept students with a GED average score of 580, and a minimum individual test score of 410, provided the student also has two years of high school foreign language or 2 terms of college foreign language.  It is significant to note that a student with the required GED score does not need to present SAT or ACT scores for admission to the University of Oregon.  In this light, the GED will be seen as an alternative option for capable students who want a document attesting to their academic abilities if they choose an early exit from high school.

For students interested in the United States Military, a GED may be considered equivalent to a high school diploma if the applicant also receives a high enough score on ASFAB, the military entrance exam.  The Army, for example, will admit an applicant with an ASFAB score of 50 or higher and a GED. 

4.  ABE.  The ABE (Adult Basic Education) diploma, also referred to as a Completion diploma, is currently offered by several Lane County school districts to students who cannot accumulate enough credits for a traditional high school diploma in time for graduation.  NCS will require that a student be 16 before planning to pursue an ABE diploma as a PEP goal.  NCS will also require 12 credits to attain the ABE diploma with the following distribution:

2 language arts
2 social studies
1 math
1 science
1 physical education
1 health
1 arts/fine arts
3 electives

What's required:

- A Personal Education Plan (PEP)
- 12 credits with required distribution

Who will use this option: 

- students without enough credits for a traditional high school diploma who want to continue their education with the diversity of career-related options offered by NCS

NCS will provide the ABE diploma option to eligible students as long as other Eugene School Districts high school programs offer the same diploma.

5.  Self-Directed Studies.  The self-directed option allows a student to take classes without having a high school diploma as a goal. A student—in concert with parents and the NCS Resource Coordinator—may choose a course of study reflected in the student's PEP that doesn't lead to a traditional form of commencement from secondary education.  This option is likely to appeal to home-schooled students who want to continue to express their philosophy of creating their own curriculum while attending a publicly funded school.

What's required:

- A Personal Education Plan (PEP)
- Required certified testing for registered Homeschool students

Who will use this option:

- Home-schooling students
- Self-directed students with personal goals

For instance, Bethel Home Source in the Bethel School District has many students who purposely complete their studies without a diploma.  Under Oregon law, this is acceptable as long as homeschool students participate in required regular testing.  Like a community college and Bethel Home Source, NCS will offer a catalog of classes for students to choose from.

Another example of a self-directed option is the diploma offered at democratic high schools.  Sudbury Valley School (a private school in Massachusetts accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges) offers a diploma to students who are able to demonstrate that they are ready to function as responsible members of the community at large.  Although the school has no set curriculum, students learn to know themselves, learn how they learn best, ponder ethical questions, and ask for the education they want.  There is much evidence that this kind of preparation serves students well in future pursuits.

The self-directed option is not a legitimization of "dropping out" of high school; it instead allows students to consider outcomes they consciously select for themselves that do not fit into or are not available in other settings.  The PEP will identify what direction a student's course of study will take, and what goal will identify the end of the student's secondary education.

In addition to home-schooled students, the self-directed option will appeal to students who already have areas of interest they would like to pursue in terms of study and future employment, but find no diploma or certificate available that would be an appropriate outcome.  For example, a student interested in a particular vocation may take classes that lead to an apprenticeship, or create a portfolio that leads to a job.

The Oregon Department of Education states that "a district may award a different document to students who do not earn a high school diploma." (ODE, Certificate of Advanced Mastery).  NCS will offer a certificate of accomplishment for students who complete their PEP under the self-directed option.  Students will have options and choices far beyond minimal requirements considered necessary by Oregon law.

Lane Community College requires neither a high school diploma nor a GED for admission, so students who choose the self-directed option still have the opportunity to attend college locally if they choose to.  Students intending to take more than five credits, however, must pass LCC's Reading, Writing and Math placement tests with a certain score before they are allowed to enroll in credit classes.  LCC does offer a free, non-credit class called Core College for students who need to improve their scores on the placement tests.  And students without a GED or high school diploma will still receive federal financial aid while attending LCC if they achieve a certain score on the placement tests.  The NCS will guide students through this process when requested.

6.  Career Development.  All NCS students will be involved in studying career-related knowledge and skills through the partner school sites.  Specific learning standards in career development, employment foundations, communication, teamwork, problem solving and personal management will be addressed.  As a personal project in at least one CAM framework, each student will demonstrate extended application through a collection of evidence such as a finished product, performance, artwork, or research and writing. 

What's required:

- A Personalized Educational Plan (PEP)

Who will use this option:

- All NCS students

NCS is well suited to prepare students to participate in career-related experiences.  The partner school sites also are small business workplaces or community non-profits.  There will be boundless opportunities for students to have real-life experiences relevant to evolving career interests.  Students will benefit from positive interactions with adults working in their field. All students will benefit from these experiences whether or not they choose to pursue the CIM and CAM options.

The Network Charter School advocates for student self-directed study.  NCS has examined many models of self-directed education including Bethel Home Source and the Blue Mountain School.  Using these models, NCS has designed an educational program that allows students the freedom to determine their own paths to learning.  That freedom, in turn, encourages students to take responsibility for their own futures.  The NCS curriculum is structured to serve students who want or need experiential approaches to learning and opportunities to learn by doing.  It stresses fundamentally different ways of knowing, thinking, and learning—ways that specifically fit the needs of hands-on and lifelong learners.

The goal of NCS is to operate as an educational center that guides all students, with minimum institutional bias, to the educational path that best fulfills their individual goals. We emphasize academic advising and career advising to help students plan their own educational paths, particularly those students who seek futures outside of the mainstream college-based professional careers.  Student futures that may be under-served in the Eugene School District 4J educational system include fine arts; performing arts; agricultural, technical and manual trades; and those careers centered around environmentally sustainable and economically just values.  The latest statistics from Lane County and surrounding counties suggest that a significant number of students fall into the non-college-bound category, which means that careers customarily considered "alternative" are exhibiting a mainstream trend.

In response to budgetary pressures, the Eugene School District 4J has limited resources to accommodate the significant numbers of students who are unable or unwilling to complete college.  Approximately 75 percent of Eugene School District 4J’s students went to a two-year or four-year college in 2001, while over 25 percent did not (Urso).  In addition to the hundreds of students who choose paths other than college, the completion rate of students who initially choose to attend a two- or four-year college is decreasing.  According to 2001 national statistics, over 40% of college students do not complete their 2- or 4- year college programs (ACT Newsroom).  If national statistics are a reliable measure for gauging college level completion for students who graduate from Eugene high schools, over 70% of students from Eugene either do not attend college or do not complete college. Therefore, over two-thirds of Eugene School District 4J students have educational needs not met by college-track education alone.

NCS provides students with work-based learning opportunities because we believe that enrolling in college is not always the best option for all youth.  Those who desire to go to college will have the opportunity to achieve all the necessary academic and extracurricular qualifications required through NCS.  In addition, NCS will provide students with work-based learning experiences, apprenticeships, and other opportunities to become talented, successful, independent adults.  By providing these opportunities in an unbiased environment, students will know there are many ways to achieve success in today’s world.

Emergent pedagogy

Most of NCS curriculum employs the problem-based “emergent” model which identifies lesson content based on authentic problems incurred in occupational practice in the educational bakery, bicycle manufacturing-workshop, nature center, or on the educational farm.  What prevented the dough from rising?  How can I work with the city to enhance the Skinner City Farm site with tree plantings?  Why won’t that brake stay properly aligned?  How can city and state officials be motivated to protect this section of river for wildlife values?  These are the kinds of practical problems that students embrace every day at different NCS sites.  They fuel the intrinsic motivation that drives students to inquire, practice, and learn.

Problematizing the lesson.  The problems mentioned above differ from problems in conventional textbooks.  Instead of using fictional problems created by textbook authors, NCS sites encourage students to generate their own questions and solutions in the course of their occupational practice.  In the case of rising dough at Le Petit Gourmet, the problem represents a very immediate, practical problem commonly encountered in the beginning stages of skill development in a commercial bakery.  It is a technical, physical problem.  In order to resolve the problem, the student has three choices:  a) receive an answer unproblematically from an expert information source; b) construct her or his own process for discovering information and organizing it into useful knowledge, thereby developing a solution; or c) hand off the situation to another—in other words, give up.  Le Petit Gourmet will employ the second approach most often positioning the learners to solve the problem by themselves. 

By preserving the problematic nature of the situation, Le Petit Gourmet establishes a starting point for multiple paths of inquiry.  The stage is then set for a variety of language skills and learning activities:  consulting technical manuals, researching technical literature, searching internet websites for information useful in solving the problems at hand, etc.  In other words, students have a strong purpose in applying and strengthening their critical reading skills.  In an occupational environment, students as “workers’ are continuously required to read and communicate their work progress, judgments, self-assessments and questions to fellow workers and supervisors in writing or orally.  NCS sites will use this economically derived communication structure to give students authentic practice in using language effectively. 

Another path of inquiry arising from occupational practice includes the study of literature.  Le Petit Gourmet will address skills in interpreting and experiencing fictional literature based on the rich historical connection between food and fiction, both in classical and popular literature, ever since Proust immortalized the madeleine cake in Remembrance of Things Past.  Le Petit Gourmet will integrate reading samples from novels, stories, films, magazines, journals, websites, and local zines into the study of the history of gastronomy and the food industry—from Buck’s The Good Earth and Dinesen’s Babette’s Feast to scripts and film viewings such as Like Water for Chocolate and My Dinner with Andre.  Such readings and viewings will form the basis of discussions about the place of food in society, how the food industry affects social relations in virtually every aspect of human endeavor, and the political economics of food.  In addition to discussions, these readings will also form starting points for creative and expository writing exercises including individual student websites, a joint class cookbook, and contributions to student publications.  (See further language arts examples for Le Petit Gourmet in the following sections: C. Diverse Learning Community and Le Petit Gourmet Planned Course Statement, Appendix A. Curriculum 4. Planned Course Statements).

In a social studies example, Skinner City Farm will teach the U.S. Constitution as it relates to social problems emerging in the context of land and food politics.  Because Skinner City Farm, unlike Full Circle Community Farm, is based more on a community development model rather than a production model, its “product” is more social in nature than material.  Students will learn the dynamic tension between "right" and "responsibility" in all its constitutional complexity by experiencing it in the practice of civics skills.  The fact that the farm site is located in a city park provides students with a unique learning opportunity.  They will learn to address problems such as how to negotiate political procedures and power structures in order to achieve community and park planning goals and how to leverage the nonprofit sector to produce learner-defined outcomes.  For example, a typical problem encountered by citizens trying to procure the rights to utilize publicly owned land to serve the common good of the community will necessarily involve a review of local, state, and federal laws and decision-making processes.  Public lands have a long history of constitutional rights battles and legal cases.  Furthermore, students gain an understanding of their individual rights and responsibilities, including freedom of expression, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as they learn through hands-on community-based projects. (See Skinner City Farm Planned Course Statement, Appendix A. Curriculum 4. Planned Course Statements)

Diverse Learning Community

Recognizing and embracing the diversity in our own community and other communities is a third organizing theme in the NCS curriculum.  In fact, the first two organizing themes, educational choice and problem-based learning, result from NCS’s focus on diversity, the diversity of learners and the value of cultural diversity.  Each NCS site will use cultural diversity as a principle to guide discussions and creative projects.  For example, Le Petit Gourmet uses a variety of fiction and nonfiction literature to orient student perspectives to important historical figures such as the “Little Rock Nine,” students who first integrated a public school in Arkansas.  After looking at the world through the eyes of others, students are then asked to write letters or compose fictional interviews to those characters or from those characters’ points of view. 

While not all of Le Petit Gourmet’s reading selections relate directly to gastronomy, they nevertheless fit within that site’s strong emphasis on cultural diversity which emerges from the study of international cuisine.  Menu planning for the site’s World Café is an authentic cultural diversity activity that requires students to research the cuisine of other cultures, and then create an actual menu that reflects the other culture.

Diverse learning opportunities.  The sample course schedule in Table 2 below illustrates the wide range of courses made available to students through NCS’s network of sites.  Following the table are two possible student scenarios reflecting ways that NCS’s unusual variety of learning opportunities can meet the needs of an increasing number of students in the  Eugene School District 4J. 

Table 2- Sample Course Schedule

 

MON

TUE

WED

THU

FRI

 Morning 1 Module, 8:15 AM ‑ 9:45 AM

LPG

Student Center

Food Service

Student Center

Food Service

Student Center

FC

Down and Dirty

 

Down and Dirty

 

Down and Dirty

NN

Restoration Ecology

Nature Guide Training

Restoration Ecology

Nature Guide Training

Restoration Ecology

CM

English

English

English

English

English

CAT1

Workplace Math

Welding‑Racks

Workplace Math

Welding‑Racks

Workplace Math

CAT2

Bike Lab

Computer Aided Design

Bike Lab (Spanish)

Computer Aided Design

Bike Lab

 Morning 2 Module, 9:55 AM ‑ 11:25 AM

LPG

English Lit.

 

English Lit.

 

English Lit.

CM

Math

Math

Math

Math

Math

FC

 

Down and Dirty

 

Down and Dirty

 

NN

Eco‑literature & Philosophy

Urban Ecology

Eco‑literature & Philosophy

Urban Ecology

Eco‑literature & Philosophy

CM

Art

Art

Art

Art

Art

CAT

Framebuilding

Industrial Sewing

Framebuilding

Industrial Sewing

Framebuilding

 Afternoon 1 Module, 12:45 PM ‑ 2:15 PM

LPG

Food Handling/ Food Science

Business Administration

Food Handling/ Food Science

Business Administration

Food Handling/ Food Science

NN

Hands‑on Biology

Bioregion Science

Hands‑on Biology

Bioregion Science

Hands‑on Biology

CM

Social Studies

Social Studies

Social Studies

Social Studies

Social Studies

CAT

Energy Awareness

Chainlinks Journalism

Energy Awareness

Chainlinks Journalism

Energy Awareness

 Afternoon 2 Module, 2:30 PM—4:00 PM

CAT

Video Production

Portfolio Preparation

Video Production

Portfolio Preparation

Video Production

LPG

Food Service

Food Service

Food Service

Food Service

Food Service

NN

Watershed Ecology

Many Paths to Learning

Watershed Ecology

Many Paths to Learning

Watershed Ecology

CM

Science

Science

Science

Science

Science

CAT

Energy Awareness

Chainlinks Journalism

Energy Awareness

Chainlinks Journalism

Energy Awareness

Curriculum Alignment with ODE Standards

Historically, the principal challenge facing experiential, work-based curricula has been matching work-based or project-based learning activities with academic standards.  Academic standards are by nature abstract and generalized.  The idea being that decontextualized skills and content are more transferable and therefore constitute a more useful education.  Much educational research over the past two decades, however, supports instead the value of context in learning resulting in a "situated cognition" revolution that is becoming institutionalized in national curriculum standards across all subjects (Lave 1989).

The new attitude toward effective instruction embraces learning in context, making connections with real world applications of knowledge, and building communications skills in all subject domains.  The latest ODE standards support this new connected approach to curriculum in many respects, which matches the philosophy behind NCS's approach to learning.  However, like most states, Oregon also maintains its allegiance to traditional decontextualized academic standards, due largely to the notion that this mode more easily fulfills the requirements for standardized testing.

In short, the new standards, though progressive in spirit, still support traditional, memorization-based classroom learning.  Nevertheless, NCS has mapped its currently available curricula to ODE standards and has found that the NCS member organizations, as a whole, include innovative learning objectives, which align with all of the ODE standards (see Appendix A. Curriculum 3. Standards Matrix).  NCS is working with Carmen Urbina, Executive Director of Centro Latino Americano to further develop and improve our Spanish language curriculum.  The following section describes how authentic, contextualized, work-based curricula align to a predominantly conventional set of academic standards (see Appendix A. Curriculum 5. Curriculum Alignments for English and Math).

Alignment challenges in work-based curricula.  The embedded, mostly invisible nature of academic concepts and skills in everyday problem solving or project completion enables experiential educators to address academic content through authentic learning activities. At the same time, the very embeddedness of academic content in problem solving activities requires an extensive analysis to reveal the ways in which those activities connect with state standards.  Alignment of high school mathematics content with state standards is provided in the following example.

To obtain the necessary credits for a diploma outcome, a student would have to take one of the course sequences shown in Table 3 - NCS Sample Program Options.  Each program path begins with the least advanced course and leads to the most advanced course.  These courses are designed specifically to meet the Benchmark 3 competencies through Certificate of Initial Mastery (CIM) competencies defined by ODE.  The courses are designed to work with a range of students, varying in age and ability levels, while fulfilling the content standards required for their respective grade levels. All students will have the opportunity to participate in all of the learning activities.  However, 10th grade students who want a diploma will be required to demonstrate proficiency in the CIM competencies, while 8th grade students will have only to demonstrate competency in the Benchmark 3 mathematics competencies.  As previously stated, the academic concepts are infused within the course content. The alignment of standards to course content for one of these paths, Technology, is described below and in Table 4- Sample Alignment.

Table 3- NCS Sample Program Options for Fulfilling Requirements

PROGRAM

LEVEL 1

LEVEL 2

LEVEL 3

Technology

CAT: Bike Lab

CAT: Welding

CAT: Computer Aided Design

Creative Arts

CM: Art

CAT: Video Production

CAT: Portfolio Production

Environmental Studies

NN: Hands-on Biology

NN:  Restoration Ecology

NN:  Urban Ecology

Sustainable Economics

FC: Down and Dirty

CAT:  Workplace Mathematics

CAT: Energy Awareness

Technology path to college prep mathematics.  The first course in the Technology program mathematics sequence is Bike Lab, an introductory course in bicycle repair.  As its name suggests, Bike Lab is conducted primarily in an inquiry/troubleshooting mode.  Students identify and analyze bicycle repair problems, then devise appropriate solutions to them.  In a problem-solving context, NCS students first learn the underlying mathematics—the very same mathematics denoted by ODE standards, but without calling it by its formal subject name—and then they learn the symbol systems and formal names for the mathematics that they have become competent in.  This inversion of the typical mathematics pedagogy (which introduces symbolic mathematical skills) before advanced problem solving skills helps students who grow up in households or cultures in which abstract, symbolic mathematics has typically been misunderstood, or considered unimportant.

For example, students in a fourth week Bike Lab unit on caliper brake repair learn specific estimation, direct measurement, probability and statistics, and geometry concepts in addition to advanced problem solving skills such as problem representation, strategy, communication, and verification of results.  Many of these mathematical concepts are used without formal quantification.  For example, Bike Lab lessons might ask students to improvise measurement units rather than use standard units such as millimeters and inches. When replacing a piece of brake cable housing, a novice mechanic will often use the old piece of housing itself as an improvised unit rather than take the time to measure both the old piece and replacement piece with a ruler. Such improvisation of measurement units is common in construction and mechanical repair trades. Learning how to improvise a measurement unit gives a student a greater personal connection to the measurement process and underscores the idea that mathematics was historically created by people who had practical problems to solve. In general, this personalization of mathematics furthers NCS's strategy of making mathematics meaningful to students, which in turn enhances their motivation to learn.

All mathematics instruction in this course occurs in the context of bicycle shop work activities.  Students learn and become proficient in the practical use of mathematics concepts and skills by applying them in the course of doing bicycle repair work.  The Bike Lab course meets different ODE mathematics standards in varying degrees as described in Table 4- Sample Alignment.  Computation, estimation methods and skills, measurement tools, direct measurement, and problem solving, for example, receive very strong emphasis.  In fact, several lessons in Bike Lab and Rackworks, another Technology course, give students practice in using all of these skills (see Appendix A. Curriculum 4. Planned Course Statements for Bike Lab and Rackworks).

Table 4- Sample Alignment of Two CAT Courses with ODE Standards

ODE Mathematics Content Standard - Grades 8 & 10

CAT Course/Lesson

NCS Sample Learning Activity

Computation

Bike Lab-various

See Direct Measurement std below

Real numbers

Bike Lab - wheels unit

Problem: replace broken spoke (see also Estimation std.)  Measure spoke length using both fractional inches & mm.  Convert English standard to metric and vice versa.  Add or subtract fractional inches to length of trial spoke to match actual spoke within 1/16" tolerance.

Estimation

Bike Lab - multiple units

Work task: practice fast method of obtaining appropriate replacement part by estimating size, quantity, magnitude, or mass.  (See also Measurement units/tools).  Students first estimate a measurement, then measure it precisely with the appropriate tool.  Quantities measured include air pressure (dial gauge), frame tube diameter (slide caliper).

Number theory

Rackworks & Bike Lab - business skills or bookkeeping units

Work task: explore iterative arithmetic operations on integers 0-100 using the copy and repeat commands in Excel spreadsheet.  Explore iterative multiplication using x2 and x3.

Measurement units/tools

Bike Lab - multiple units

Problem: given several possible measurement tools and methods for determining size of a replacement ball bearing, select the most appropriate method for various possible shop situations.

Direct measurement

Rackworks & Bike Lab - multiple units

Problem:  find replacement part or perform repair procedure within 1-10 percent tolerance, depending on situation.

 

Indirect measurement and Geometry

Bike Lab: Mapping your neighborhood

Problem: determine the shortest path between two points comparing automobile geometry (right angle turns only, must stay on street) with cyclist geometry (diagonal shortcuts allowed where possible and safe).

Algebra

Rack Works: parts purchasing

Problem: determine maximum value (return on cost) of parts order considering multiple variables including projected demand, quantity price breaks, free shipping beyond minimum, and variable percentage price markup.

(See Appendix A. Curriculum 3. Planned Course Statements for a course description from each of the member organizations).

 

5.  Assurance that the public charter school will complete and submit a school improvement plan within one calendar year of its opening. The school improvement plan must include baseline data, improvement goals, an action plan, and a procedure for evaluating the public charter school’s progress toward meeting its goals and action plans. The school improvement plan will be updated annually and reviewed as a part of the school board’s annual review of the public charter school.

The Network Charter School will create a comprehensive school improvement plan based on our mission and the needs of the school community.  The plan, developed cooperatively by students, parents, teachers and administrators, will include baseline data, improvement goals, an action plan, and a procedure for evaluating the public charter school’s progress toward meeting its goals and action plans. The plan will be updated annually and reviewed as a part of the school board’s annual review of the public charter school. The initial plan will be complete by September 2004.

6.  A description of the expected results of the curriculum and the verified methods of measuring and reporting objective results that will show the growth of knowledge of students attending the public charter school and allow comparisons with public schools.  A public charter school must participate in all state assessments, including work sample requirements, and reporting procedures required of district schools. A public charter school that does not contain grades that participate in the required state assessments must annually assess those students who are in the school’s highest grade using a standardized test mutually agreeable to the district and to the public charter school.

Expected Results

The expected results of the NCS curriculum will be as varied as the achievements of each student.  The core of the NCS academic accountability plan relies on the personal relationship we build with each student; our mission statement and our commitment to helping each student achieve his or her “personal best.”  Consistent with our views on what knowledge is and how it is best acquired, organized, and managed, we will develop with the students and their parents/guardians goals about what the student should know and be able to do.  In general, we believe they should acquire skills and knowledge that will enable them to fulfill their productive potential, address everyday challenges, and solve social and technical problems. 

There is a core of knowledge which we believe all students should have, but rather than define a specific range of knowledge content, we prefer to identify certain fundamental, key skills which will lead students to develop their own, culturally-defined core concepts.  Specifically, we

believe students should be able to judge information, make decisions, and solve problems based on their own responsibly developed sense of accuracy, validity, and authority.  The core experiences of NCS will include the following concepts:

These categories are designed for two purposes, (a) to accommodate the vast diversity of learners and their distinct educational needs and (b) to define a fundamental set of skills that will allow learners to responsibly determine their own futures.  Responsibility, as embraced by NCS, includes responsibility to self, family, school, and community.  These general concepts run through the NCS curriculum as continuous themes. 

Ways of knowing.  What was until recently regarded as a fixed, universal constant—how we know what we know—has been split into many forms and has been shown to be culturally variant.  Ways of organizing knowledge, even the very rules of logic, will differ between Western and non-Western cultures and across other cultural boundaries including class, gender, region, and age.  Knowing is taught as an active, not a passive skill. Through its activity-based curriculum and formative assessment methods, NCS introduces students to a variety of "ways of knowing" while helping them to understand knowledge in terms of their own individual psychology and cultural backgrounds.

Gardner categorized ways of knowing into seven different "multiple intelligences", thus broadening the notion of intelligence and knowledge types and helping immensely to make learning more accessible and schooling more sensitive to different types of students (Gardner).  Historically, the seven intelligences were integrated into everyday activity, but modernization and the division of labor tended to separate intelligence types into different activities.  School became a place to practice linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences nearly to the exclusion of other forms.  Experiential learning at NCS reintegrates the seven intelligences, particularly those less commonly emphasized such as the bodily kinesthetic, spatial, and interpersonal (ability to understand one's own feelings and motivations) through project-based, practice-oriented learning activities.

Ways of thinking.  The most versatile skill that students learn at NCS is how to be more effective thinkers.  We will teach students to think critically, not how or what to think.  Much of the NCS coursework is aimed at developing critical thinking skills.  For example, the Chainlinks Journalism course enables students to judge the reliability and validity of reported information, and to recognize bias and business interests in all forms of mass media, and to view all media including all forms of communication, entertainment, and literature in a more critical light.  This perspective is particularly useful and appropriate to the study of history, science, or social studies, media literacy, and cultural studies where the texts are more of a reflection of the author’s perspective and bias than the actual events. 

Students are encouraged to pursue paths of inquiry within NCS course activities, outside of school, and throughout life.  NCS students will learn how to find different perspectives and tap productive sources of knowledge in their communities.  Even test-taking skills are taught in the context of “ways of thinking” including: strategies for success, techniques to reduce test anxiety, and analysis of the types of tests and the reasons for testing.  Centro Latino Americano’s Executive Director Carmen Xiomara Urbina and a group of other key community leaders have come together to create the Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee for NCS (see support letter Appendix D. Endorsements & Community Involvement Section 4. Community Members and Organization Endorsements).  This group is helping NCS to integrate cultural sensitivity and diversity into the development, implementation and evaluation of every aspect of the school.  We are working together to ensure that ethnic diversity is respected and celebrated.

Ways of taking care of oneself. Sternberg identified a broad category of knowledge, which he called practical-experiential, or common sense.  Certainly youth need to develop this kind of knowledge and the requisite skills of being able to assess risks and learn from mistakes (Sternberg).  Sternberg was interested in valuing the more informal kinds of learning that occur all the time yet have not been well researched.  NCS students will have access to learning opportunities and resources that will help them to gain the skills necessary to take care of themselves physically and emotionally.  Through our strong connections to various community groups, NCS has a unique ability to address the following statistic.  For example, NCS is partnering with Planned Parenthood’s Joanna Alba to bring the Rights, Respect, and Responsibility program to our students (see support letter Appendix D. Endorsements & Community Involvement Section 4. Community Members and Organization Endorsements).

The statistics concerning teen poverty, pregnancy, substance abuse, homelessness, violence and suicide in our community are disturbing:

Clearly, youth need help to learn how to take care of themselves and keep themselves safe.  It is important to note that ALL teen-aged students are “at-risk,” because the root causes of these problems are endemic in our society.  The Network Charter School will support its students through access to resources, personal advising, and courses in personal responsibility, health, nutrition, self-defense, esteem building and body image.  They will learn how to become effective and compassionate allies to peers.  Students will learn to care for their community by taking care of themselves.  NCS is partnering with Planned Parenthood to incorporate their Rights, Respect, and Responsibility program to expand students understanding about themselves and other students their age around the world.

NCS’s approach is to custom fit an education program to each student.  NCS Resource Coordinators will advise students before their first enrolled term to map out a Personalized Educational Plan, then have follow-up appointments on a regular basis to help students implement their plans and manage changes to the plan which often happen on an ongoing basis.  Through this attention to making thoughtful educational decisions, NCS aims to help students discover their highest levels of interest, motivation, and productivity.  Student productivity is NCS’s answer to problems of student boredom, negative attitude, and attention problems. 

Measuring and Reporting Objective Results

NCS will use a variety of assessments to evaluate student learning and to know whether our students are achieving or attaining the goals and standards specified in our charter.  Two of the nine goals of charter schools under the Oregon Revised Statutes are to "encourage the use of different and innovative learning methods" and "create innovative measurement tools" (ORS 338.015).  It is NCS's intent to support these goals through the use of authentic assessments such as portfolios (hard copy, CD and DVD form), collections of evidence, and student checklists aligned with scoring rubrics.  NCS will also assess students under ODE guidelines for statewide testing by offering them a choice, when appropriate, of Standard Administration, Technology Enhanced Student Assessment or Juried Assessment, as described in the ODE publication Oregon Standards, 2002-2003 School Year. 

This diversity of assessment methods will offer a broad evaluation of student learning at NCS.  The idea of assessment has recently been whittled down in the public mind to mean multiple-choice testing, when that is, in fact, only one facet of assessment.  As Grant Wiggins has noted, "...assessment is the documentation...that the student has done something significant."  While traditional pen and paper tests are efficient and economical ways to test student recall of information, other assessment methods allow students to formulate their own questions and then try to find answers for them (Burke), or create products rather than plug information into blank spaces.  Students who have not performed well with traditional testing deserve the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills using other reliable assessment techniques.

Authentic assessment is the direct examination of student performance on worthy intellectual tasks (Wiggins). This kind of assessment "...mirrors the priorities and challenges found in the best instructional activities: conducting research; writing; revising and discussing papers; providing an engaging oral analysis of recent political events; collaborating with others on a debate, etc." (Wiggins).  In addition, authentic assessment is typically used by employers or managers in the adult work world to evaluate employee performance.  The CAM (Certificate of Advanced Mastery) also requires or allows the use of authentic assessments in all areas except for the CIM knowledge and skills tests in Reading.  In addition, most PASS (Proficiency Based Admission Standards System) criteria require authentic assessments, and secondary teachers will choose to receive ODE training to be certified as PASS evaluators.  NCS will use a variety of authentic assessments to evaluate project-based and hands-on learning in workplace environments and community organization settings.

Checklists

For each NCS course offering, a scoring rubric of knowledge and skills will be developed, and a concomitant checklist will serve to individually evaluate each student.  The checklist will serve as a baseline indicator of the student's ability at the beginning of the course as well as a progress check through the term.  The four status indicators will be EE (exceeds expectations), ME (meets expectations), NI (needs improvement) and US (unsatisfactory).  A fifth indicator, UTE (unable to evaluate), will be used when a student has been absent for a prolonged period of time or is otherwise unable to complete the required coursework.

Portfolio

NCS will also provide authentic assessment opportunities for all students through portfolio development.  A student's portfolio may contain work samples including but not limited to those appropriate for CIM requirements.  In addition, exhibitions of proficiency that cannot be materially included in a portfolio will be documented in the portfolio after the exhibition.  For example, a student's demonstration of ability in welding, a three-dimensional student sculpture, or multi-student performances and hands-on projects would be evaluated and noted in the portfolio.

Collection of Evidence

In addition, all NCS students, not just those who intend to achieve CIM and CAM as outcomes, will be encouraged to demonstrate extended application through a collection of evidence in all courses.  This CAM requirement is appropriate even for middle school students who will undertake individual projects related to a course theme.  The application of both academic and career-related knowledge and skills to a student's personal, academic and evolving career-related interests is at the heart of the NCS mission to provide work-based learning and self-directed study opportunities through an educational network.  Such individual projects will be included and/or documented in both a portfolio and a Personal Education Profile.

PASS

NCS will also use PASS (Proficiency-Based Admission Standards System) and PREP (Proficiency for Entry into Programs) criteria to evaluate student performance.  PASS has been developed by the Oregon University System as an admissions framework for students to demonstrate proficiency in six academic areas, in order to prove their readiness to enter any of Oregon's public universities.  Most PASS criteria require authentic assessments, and secondary teachers can receive ODE training to be certified to provide PASS teacher verification.  CIM and CAM standards have been aligned with PASS, and ODE now accepts evidence of meeting PASS standards as an alternative way to meet some CIM requirements.

PREP

PREP has been developed by Oregon's Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development to provide high school students with the necessary proficiencies to enter professional-technical programs at Oregon's community colleges.  PREP uses a set of proficiency statements for each vocational area offered as a two-year or certificate program at the community college level, but each college can adapt the proficiency statements to their own requirements.  PREP is aligned with CIM, CAM and PASS, and demonstration of PREP proficiencies will be used in vocational and career-related classes at NCS.

Standards for Assessment

Each academic year, students at the required grade levels will participate in state administered assessments as per ORS 329.485 and the Federal No Child Left Behind Act.  NCS intends to offer the reading/literature and mathematics Knowledge and Skills assessments via TESA (Technology Enhanced Student Assessment), the web-based computer testing option used by ODE.  Students who prefer or require the pen and paper version of the Oregon Statewide Assessments will have that option as well.  Under limited circumstances students may also elect to participate in Juried Assessments as an alternative to the Oregon Statewide Assessments at the CIM level.  The ODE Juried Assessment Manual states: "As an alternative assessment to the Oregon Statewide Assessment, the Juried Assessment will allow students with unique learning characteristics or exceptional abilities to provide evidence produced in an atypical format or through an alternative means of communication."  ODE Juried Assessment options currently include Collection of Evidence, Juried Modification and the PASS (Proficiency Based Admission Standards System) Transcript.  NCS will ask the Eugene School District 4J to submit an Intent to Submit form to ODE for each student that requests a Juried Assessment option.

Gather and Monitor Performance Information

NCS will gather and monitor the necessary student performance information by administering diverse assessments.  The scoring rubric developed for each NCS course will be used to evaluate students' knowledge and skills on a continuous basis.  The teacher will consult with students on a regular basis to determine the appropriate status indicator (EE, ME, NI, US or UTA) for each checklist category involved in the week's instruction.  At the end of each term, the teacher and student will confer to determine a final status indicator for each checklist category.  The final checklist will be included in the Personal Education Profile as an indication of the student's accomplishments in the course.

Student portfolios will be updated each term at the student's conference with an advisor or the resource coordinator.  Students may add work samples, documentations of proficiency, or collections of evidence at any time during a term; the conference, however, will serve to assess both the quality and the purpose of the inclusions.  A student's Personal Education Plan will then be updated to reflect remaining and additional educational goals.

TESA and Oregon Statewide Assessments will be administered according to the ODE schedule each academic year.  Students choosing Juried Assessment will also adhere to the appropriate ODE timeline.  Results will be reported to students and parents, and included in each student's Personal Education Profile.  Student progress will also be reported to the Eugene School District 4J, the State Board of Education and the community at large via press releases and NCS publications.

Set and Measure Progress Toward Performance Information

NCS will set and measure progress toward student and school performance information by choosing and evaluating appropriate assessments.  In accordance with state statutes (ORS 338.095), the NCS will report annually to provide proof of compliance with the granted charter. This information will include all necessary documents, including but not limited to: attendance reports, financial reports, portfolios (as requested), and educational goals.  An on-site visit and evaluation from local and/or state representatives will also be completed, as arranged with the state and Eugene School District 4J.

The Board will conduct a formal annual performance review of the school based on previously identified and agreed-upon goals and benchmarks for determining whether such goals have been met.  The faculty, staff, parents, teachers, partners and community will provide confidential feedback regarding the leadership strengths of the Director.  The formal evaluation will document the school's achievements and shortcomings, and help the Director understand the areas where improvement is needed or better communication with the board is called for.  The Executive Committee of the Board will lead the evaluation process, report on the evaluation to the entire board, and recommend appropriate steps for the next year.

Because the Director will be the individual principally responsible for the management of NCS, this evaluation will inevitably be linked to the evaluation of the school’s performance as a whole.  The Board will accordingly incorporate evaluation of the Director into its Annual Report on the school's performance and the goals that it sets for each succeeding school year.

NCS holds itself accountable to students, families, teachers and the community including the Eugene School District 4J and the State ODE.  Annually, NCS will create an Accountability Plan that will include academic accountability.  We will use student and school performance information to create an Accountability report card as part of our Annual Report to the school community and the wider community including the Eugene School District 4J and the State ODE.  Performance information will also be used to develop school improvement plans.

Accreditation

NCS will also become accredited through the Northwest Association of Schools and of Colleges and Universities.  We are committed to meeting the rigorous standards considered essential for quality education.  We recognize that holding accreditation assures the public that we are meeting regional standards of academic and school excellence and that we have the management, resources and vitality necessary for continual improvement.  Accreditation also ensures that our credits will be transferable to other regionally accredited schools and will be accepted by colleges and universities.  We will submit to the Northwest Association of Schools and of Colleges and Universities an application form containing the resolution by the governing body approving the application and accepting the regulations, standards, and principles of the association by the Summer of 2003.

 

7.  A description of the instructional material and textbooks that will be provided to students, pursuant to ORS 337.150.

Instructional Materials and Textbooks

Students at NCS will supplement their learning experiences with readings from customized manuals, field guides, professional literature including journals and monographs, trade books, reference volumes as well as standard middle and high school level textbooks.  Each network site has its own reference library of specialized literature.  Students are also encouraged to use other libraries and information sources within the community including public libraries, the university and college libraries, and specialized collections in other public institutions or nonprofit agencies. 

NCS students will learn how to use the Internet to locate reliable information and to access online journal articles.  Some courses will use other instructional materials such as films, videos, compact discs, DVDs, and software, as appropriate.  Regardless of the medium, students will learn how to find, judge, and assemble their own lists of information sources rather than rely solely on lists of reading required by the instructors.  When students locate individuals within the community as a primary information source (local writers, speakers, performing artists, manual trades practitioners), they will be encouraged to use a variety of recording media, as available, to immediately capture new information as it is created.  For example, the Chainlinks photojournalism course at the Center for Appropriate Transport teaches students in the use of digital audio and video recording.  Recently, students videotaped a sewing machine technician explaining how to repair the schools machines.  The making of the video is a teaching tool and the final video is also a teaching tool.

Readings and adopted texts

Instructors consider a full range of available instructional materials and textbooks when choosing required course readings.  Subject area classics are sometimes preferred over more contemporary titles.  Instructors tend to select primary rather than secondary sources for required readings: original authors of ideas, methods, and theories instead of interpretations of those original writings.  Specific examples of readings and text adoptions are listed below by subject area and are drawn primarily from courses offered by Nearby Nature, Center for Appropriate Transport and Full Circle Community Farm to demonstrate the range of academic areas that will be adequately covered at a single network site.

Language Arts

Because reading and writing skills instruction is mostly integrated within other coursework, whole language instruction is the preferred mode for the study of English language and literature.  This pedagogy fits well with the experiential learning structure of all the network sites.  Most courses within NCS have a strong practical or manual skills emphasis.  Therefore a frequent source of incidental reading involves the reading of printed instructions, user manuals, and other tool or equipment documentation.  Writing is also taught from a whole language position and usually involves instructor-critiqued writing exercises without the use of supplementary texts. 

Basic language arts instruction will be provided to students needing or desiring a more conventional classroom approach through Creative Minds, the NCS member organization which specializes in remedial academic instruction.  Creative Minds uses the following texts for a course that meets CIM standards for English literature:

An Eco-Literature and Philosophy course at Nearby Nature demonstrates the integration of literature study into an environmental studies course:

Selected and excerpted works:

Journalism and photography courses integrate media production and language arts:

Mathematics

Students needing or desiring a more conventional classroom-based approach to mathematics instruction will enroll in courses offered by Creative Minds. Creative Minds uses the following textbooks for Geometry, Pre-Algebra, and Algebra instruction.

NCS plans to enlarge its collection of custom written lesson plans for its hands-on math classes to reduce its dependence on externally produced texts.  However, to adequately meet ODE academic standards in mathematics during the transition period and to prepare students for standardized tests, certain NCS sites plan to use lessons from the following texts for a pre-algebra, geometry, algebra sequence:

Both of these series approach mathematics pedagogy from a perspective that complements the experiential, hands-on philosophy behind NCS courses.  The Connected Mathematics series is more flexible and more adaptable to project-based learning and authentic assessment.  It is the preferred series for mathematics.  The other series, CPM,  emphasizes symbolic abstraction and the development of competency in communicating mathematical ideas.  While it may appear that such a focus conflicts with NCS’s emphasis on concrete, product-oriented learning activities, the CPM series in fact complements NCS’s focus on collaboration, communication, and group learning skills.  Despite NCS’s emphasis on hands-on learning, it wholeheartedly values the early acquisition of abstraction skills.  Hands-on activities are designed as a means to accelerate abstraction skills, not to displace them.

The Tools of the Policymaker and Developer:  This applied math course would offer an introduction to policy and profit analysis tools like statistics, data gathering, marketing surveys, finance, interest theory, and more. Real world problems would draw upon themes like sustainable forestry vs. clear cutting; urban sprawl development vs. compact growth; conventional vs. organic farming; globalized vs. bioregional production and distribution, etc.  The problems encourage students to find out how decision makers justify their investments and policies, relying heavily on math skills.  Lessons will be based on introductory books on finance, statistics, interest theory, and natural resource management; case studies will be taken from local natural resource institutes.  Excerpts from specific publications may include:

Technology:  This course focuses primarily on advanced problem solving and mathematics concepts in relation to engineering and manufacture in the bicycle industry.  Mathematical concepts of measurement, computation, probability and statistics, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry will be taught though bicycle repair work, framebuilding, and the manufacture of bicycle racks.  Instructors will utilize excerpts from manuals and books that supplement the hands-on demonstration and practice will include:

Science

Physical sciences courses will use engineering-related, industry-based literature including customized manuals, reference guides, and user documentation that demonstrate the relationship between theoretical and applied sciences.  Selections in life sciences and earth/space science are exemplified in the following course descriptions.

Restoration Ecology: a practical study of theory, investigation and techniques to restore areas to native habitat. This is a very multidisciplinary topic involving knowledge of hydrology, climate, soils, botany, zoology and ecology, with particular emphasis on invasive and native plant characteristics. Each situation requires thorough investigation prior to action. Classes will undertake restoration projects, and assist in the development of a native plant nursery.

Oregon Bioregions and potentially a course on North American or International Bioregions: A survey of bioregions, and their hydrological, climatic, and biological features around the state.

Geosystems:

Hands-On Biology: An introduction to biology, perhaps with a weighting towards local flora and fauna. Genetics, mitosis, immunology, and public health issues will be included. Texts may include one of the following, or a collection of readings from the following:

Nature Guide Training: Students would join in on the training sessions, and shadow or assist with nature walks until they develop proficiency to lead their own walks. Nearby Nature’s 180-page training manual would serve as a basic text.

Ecological Agriculture:  A course with both a hands-on and theoretical component including farming, life cycles, soil science, animal care, nutrition and health, cooking and ecology.  Readings may include excerpts from one or more of the following:

Focus courses: ethnobotany, entomology, freshwater ecology, or a combination. These courses would use primarily excerpts from professional monographs, reference works, and journal articles.

Social Studies

Readings and texts will vary according to course, instructor, and network site. Writings by social theorists, planners, economists, historians, political leaders, public administrators, anthropologists, psychologists, philosophers, educators, and others will be used for study and discussion.  Contemporary magazine and news articles pertaining to local issues will also serve as cases for analysis.  NCS will emphasize the critical readings of texts, analysis of perspectives, and assessment of policy and action options.  Materials and books may include:

Transportation Policy:  This course will include the study and analysis of current local and regional issues concerning transportation and the civic and community debates, regulations and statutes that are formed in response to such issues.  Selected readings may include excerpts from:

8.  A description of the governance structure of the public charter school.

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors’ roles and responsibilities include:

The Board of Directors must establish the corporation’s policies, review and change those policies as necessary, oversee its programs and activities, supervise its staff director, authorize its expenditures, oversee its financial affairs, and ensure the proper management and use of its assets and property.  The Board must also ensure that the corporation properly employs the necessary corporate formalities to make its decisions, that it prepares and submits all required state and federal reports, and that it operates in compliance with relevant state and federal laws.  Board members must diligently prepare for, attend, and participate in the meetings of the Board of Directors and any Board committees as needed in order to carry out these tasks.  The role of the Board does not include direct management or conduct of the daily operations of the organization, or the supervision of staff members other than the staff’s executive director.

Number of Directors: The Board of Directors will consist of no fewer than three and no more than thirteen members. The specific number of directors within this range must be set and may be changed by resolutions passed by a majority of the directors in office.  The Board may in this way increase the size of the Board and then may elect new directors to fill the newly created director positions.  (See appendix B. Governance 3. Bylaws).

Composition:  Nominees for positions on the Board of Directors must have exhibited an interest in and commitment to the purposes of NCS.

Each of the six initial founding member organizations of the Network Charter School shall have the power to appoint one member of the Board of Directors, so long as that organization formally agrees to be a contracted educational provider of the Network Charter School within thirty (30) days of the corporation’s approval of the standard contract for its educational providers.  If any of these organizations fails or ceases to be a contracted educational provider, then that organization shall lose the power to appoint a Board member and the person that organization appointed to the Board shall automatically cease to qualify for continued membership on the Board. The six initial founding organizations of the Network Charter School are: Center for Appropriate Transport, Full Circle Farm, Le Petit Gourmet Culinary Arts Program, Materials Exchange Center for Community Art, Nearby Nature, and Skinner City Farm.

Additional directors may be elected by the unanimous affirmative vote of the members of the Board of Directors who were appointed by the founding organizations.

Additional Requirements:

Selection of Directors:  The initial members of the Board of Directors have been appointed by the Incorporator, and each of those initial members represents one of the six nonprofit organizations that are the founders of the Network Charter School.  Those founding organizations are Center for Appropriate Transport, Full Circle Farm, Le Petit Gourmet Culinary Arts Program, Materials Exchange Center for Community Art, Nearby Nature, and Skinner City Farm.

Subsequent directors shall be appointed as follows:  Each of the six initial founding member organizations of the Network Charter School shall have the power to appoint one member of the Board of Directors, so long as that organization formally agrees to be a contracted educational provider of the Network Charter School within thirty (30) days of the corporation’s approval of the standard contract for its educational providers.  If any of these organizations fails or ceases to be a contracted educational provider, then that organization shall lose the power to appoint a Board member and the person that organization appointed to the Board shall automatically cease to qualify for continued membership on the Board.  Additional directors may be elected by the unanimous affirmative vote of the members of the Board of Directors who are appointed by the founding organizations.

Process for adding and removing member organizations

From the beginning, Network Charter School's (NCS) process for approval of new member organizations has been highly structured and formatted to enhance accountability.

To add a member organization, NCS works to find partners that will provide for the needs of the school and its students. The prospective group's representatives then meet with NCS staff and or the board president several times to review the charter, answer any questions, and determine 1.) does the group provide quality services, staff, and programs that NCS has a need for; and 2.) does the group possess a mission and vision that is compatible with NCS's mission and vision?

Once these two items are determined to be true, NCS requests each group and its board fill out a informational Matrix Worksheet. The Matrix Worksheet was created for groups interested in working with the Network Charter School (see Appendix B. Governance 6. Partner Matrix). The Matrix is a compilation of concepts and questions that consultants and the state suggest groups answer when they consider creating a charter school programs. The information shared in the Matrix Worksheet helps the group and the NCS Developers by clarifying what they have and what they need.

The Matrix is then thoroughly reviewed and discussed by the NCS board and staff. Then NCS board votes on a resolution to approve or deny adding a group as a member organization.

The process to remove a member organization is addressed in the bylaws, contract, personnel policy, and working agreements.  A member organization may be removed by board approval from NCS if there is a breech in the contract by that group.

Committees

The Board may establish any committee, including standing committees or temporary committees, by a resolution of the Board.  Such resolutions must name the committee and the purpose of the committee, must state whether it is a "Board" committee or a "non-Board" committee, and must state what powers, authority, and duties have been delegated to the committee, how the chair of the committee is appointed, how the members of the committee may be appointed, and what procedures, if any, the committee must use in carrying out its work.

The Board of Directors will always have the power to amend, alter, or repeal the decisions of its committees, subject to limitations on the unilateral amending of contracts, interference with third-party rights, and other legal limitations.

The Board will establish "Board” committees to which are delegated part of the power of the whole Board to authorize expenditures, adopt budgets, set policy, establish programs or make other decisions for the corporation.  Such committees are established by resolution by all directors then in office.  Board Committees must consist of two or more directors, and must not have any members who are not members of the Board of Directors.

The Board will elect an Executive Committee.  The Executive Committee will have the power to make decisions between Board meetings, including financial and budgetary decisions.  The Executive Committee must comply with the provisions of the bylaws concerning the full Board as far as those are reasonably applicable to the Executive Committee.  All Executive Committee decisions must be recorded in official minutes, which must be submitted to the full Board.  Any director may be a member of the Executive Committee.

The Board will establish "non-board" committees, including working committees or advisory committees, which do not have the power to authorize expenditures, adopt budgets, set policy, establish programs, or make decisions for the corporation.  Such committees are established by resolution by the directors present at a properly called meeting.  Any person may be a member of such a committee, whether or not that person is a member of the Board of Directors.

The Board shall work to establish, work closely with and receive guidance from the following Advisory Boards:

  1. Student Advisory Council
  2. Parent Advisory Council
  3. Educators Advisory Council
  4. Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee

9.  The projected enrollment to be maintained and the ages or grades to be served. A public charter school must maintain an average daily membership of at least 25 students.

The first year, NCS will enroll 60 or more students ages 11 to 21. In predicting enrollment for the period of the initial charter, the NCS has developed a projected and a reduced enrollment scenario for enrollment (see Appendix C. Financials 2. Notes: On Projected Budget, 3-Year Financials, and Cash Flow Analysis).

10.  A description of the target population of students the public charter school will be designed to serve.

The Network will serve students in Eugene and surrounding communities aged eleven to nineteen and will work to include every Lane County student and family interested in our educational programs (see Appendix D. Endorsements & Community Involvement 5. Prospective Students Contact List).  The Network Charter School will include students from diverse backgrounds, including those with special needs (see Section 21 below).  The school will not discriminate in admissions, hiring, Board membership, or full participation against any persons based on race, ethnic or national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or family background.  Students who qualify for Title I through 5 and other services will be identified by parent questionnaires using qualification for free and reduced price lunch based on family income.

11. A description of any distinctive learning or teaching techniques to be used in the public charter school.

“Learning anything is learning.  It doesn’t have to be what people want you to learn.  I will learn more sometimes on a break at my other [regular] school than in class, because I just learn from people sometimes better than I learn in class.  I don’t think there’s any learning that isn’t valid.  As long as you’re learning something, it counts.”

-Rio, 15-year-old student at Center for Appropriate Transport

NCS’s organizational and educational philosophies are closely intertwined, reflecting the conviction that education is more than just a means for creating human capital and instead represents a pervasive, lifelong learning process that is inseparable from economic, cultural, and moral aspects of humanity.  Our mission’s focus on “learning by doing” reflects a close tie between action and knowledge.  The practice of physically producing artistic forms or fabricating industrial products reveals more about what many students know and are learning than typical written tests and homework assignments.  Engaging students in the mental activity of solving environmental, social, or community problems gives them a chance to learn sophisticated interrelationships of language, mathematics, economics, politics, history, science, and creative arts.

Project-based pedagogy.  A list of teaching and learning practices characteristic of NCS network partners is provided in Table 5- NCS Key Pedagogical Practices.  All network partners embody some of these distinctive practices.  Such a combination of innovative practices fits well with the NCS philosophy of student-centered learning.

Table 5- NCS Key Pedagogical Practices

Key Practice

Description of Practice

Experiential learning

Activity-based lessons in a laboratory format

Youth-centered

Moves the focus of education from adult expertise to youth understanding

Culturally appropriate

Activities focus on elements of diverse ethnic and family traditions

Constructivist learning

Students actively build conceptual understanding in their minds.  Knowledge is constructed and produced internally

Authentic learning

Educational content seamlessly connected to real-world concepts, practices, and institutions

Cooperative learning

Team achievement skills are developed along with individual achievement goals

Critical thinking skills

Activities emphasize learning how to think critically, not just store and repeat factual knowledge from memory

Inter-generational

Employment and volunteering opportunities for wide range of ages, backgrounds, and talents.  Community focus encourages carefully guided interaction between youth and adults

Enhance Multicultural awareness

Intensive work-related interaction of different ethnic, age, and socioeconomic cultures heightens awareness of multiculturalism and promotes intercultural understanding and communication

Gender equality

Promotes awareness of gender equality through placement of students in nontraditional roles: females as mechanics, males as sewing instructors, etc.

We believe that human society demands such a broad “social ecology” perspective on how to make human institutions work together more effectively.  NCS’s network structure has been integrated with its educational program to work on that level as an organization and to educate students in this interrelational perspective.  The following examples of overarching curriculum themes illustrate this principle.

Resource sources.  Where do everyday objects come from?  Do they have a history that disturbs or instructs our sense of economic or political justice?  Where do they end up when we are finished with them?  What are the various paths that resources take on their way into our lives?  How will we manage our lives and our institutions in ways that conserve limited resources and reduce accumulation of waste?

Practice-based knowledge.  Extremely rich kinds of mathematical knowledge are embedded in everyday activities from grocery shopping (Lave) and basketball (Nasir) to carpet-laying and carpentry (Masingila).  Language competency is accelerated through practice, particularly in contexts that youth find highly motivating.

Research-based pedagogy.  Experiential education, or learning by doing, is an approach to education that has been valued among U.S. schools and educators for at least a century since Dewey championed the method in his laboratory school at the University of Chicago (Dewey).  However popular the method, it has not been widely adopted into U.S. schools because educators find it impractical for meeting formal academic standards.  The kind of knowledge acquired in practical activities is difficult to classify into modern categories, especially in the current era of high-stakes testing and the quantification of knowledge. 

Each member of the NCS network has developed a successful approach to teaching students experientially.  NCS represents an attempt to organize those respective individual successes into a coordinated educational program that will produce standard outcomes such as diplomas, GED, CIM/CAM, or other principal benchmarks.

Learning by doing: knowledge is embedded in practice.  For example, we are so accustomed to thinking of mathematics as abstract formulas in a textbook that we have trouble seeing the mathematics of everyday problem solving.  Intricate mathematical relations and processes including estimation, maximizing and minimizing functions, and statistical distributions occur in the otherwise simple act of planning a bicycle construction project, or assessing the impact of watershed management policy on local wildlife populations, or building a shed for animal husbandry from recycled resources.

Promoting the natural inclination to learn.  Adolescent youth are natural, congenital learners.  The trouble is, that they tend to learn only what they are motivated to learn.  When these young people choose to exclude typical curriculum skills and concepts, they become low academic achievers.  The NCS program will provide students an unprecedented level of choice that will allow them to pursue curriculum and outcome options that conform to their areas of interest.  Our collective experience in approaching students in this manner through our experience with private alternative education referral students has demonstrated the power of allowing students to shape their own lives.

 

12.  The legal address, facilities, and physical location of the public charter school.

455 West 1st Avenue, Eugene, OR 97401

13.  A description of admission policies and application procedures.

A public charter school sponsored by District 4J must meet the following criteria:

District 4J residents shall have priority for admission into the public charter school and shall be allowed to fill all enrollment slots in the school, but a minimum of at least 80 percent of the students who attend must be residents of the district.

A minimum of 80 percent of the students who attend NCS shall reside in Eugene School District 4J.  NCS shall give the Eugene School District 4J residents priority for enrollment until this legislative rule sunsets in January 1, 2004 per ORS 338.125 Section 16.

Children selected for enrollment in a charter school must be at least five years old by September 1 of the school year they will be enrolled in the public charter school unless they have met the district’s criteria for early enrollment.

Children selected for enrollment in the Network Charter School must be at least five years old by September 1 of the school year they will be enrolled in the public charter school unless they have met the Eugene School District 4J’s criteria for early enrollment.

A public charter school must comply with the provisions of ORS 339.115, Admission of Students.

The Network Charter School will comply with the provisions of ORS 339.115, Admission of Students.

A public charter school must submit a copy of the plan for the recruitment of students that gives wide visibility and the opportunity for parents to meet the application timelines.  The plan must describe the process the public charter school will use to allow an equal opportunity for enrollment by any resident of the district within the age and grade range served by the school.

Due to the diversity and scope of the Network’s partnership, students throughout the community will have access to information about the NCS.  Through outreach with both new and existing networks and alliances, we will reach youth in our community from diverse backgrounds (see Appendix D. Endorsements & Community Involvement 6. Prospective Students Contact List).  We are working with existing organizations that serve children and families, to offer information and access to new opportunities.  Information will be spread through brochures, posters, articles and advertising in local papers, radio interviews, open house events and other methods.

The Network Charter School’s admission process will include an informational meeting to describe the program.  This will allow students and families to understand how the program is run, what will be expected of the student and what they can expect from the program. These meetings will be held several times a year.  Students and families will be invited to tour the various facilities.  They will meet teachers and students and see first hand the diversity and flexibility of the NCS.  If they chose to enroll, they will meet with a resource coordinator from the network to establish an education plan, which will include schedules, goals, requirements and interests.

If there are more students than spaces, an equitable lottery will be held based on Eugene School District 4J’s lottery policy as described in detail in the Eugene School District 4J’s Handbook. In subsequent year enrollments, priority will be given to returning students and their siblings, with all new students following the above procedure and access to new opportunities (see Appendix E. Personnel and Programs 4. Sample Recruitment Plan).

14.  The statutes and rules that shall apply to the public charter school.  A public charter school sponsored by District 4J must demonstrate how it will comply with all statutory requirements of ORS, Chapter 338, including those not specified in this policy, and all district policy and state law specified in this policy.

(See Appendix B Governance 7. Regulatory & Statutory Compliance Chart).

15  The proposed budget, a three-year financial and enrollment plan, and a three-year cash flow projection for the public charter school and evidence that the proposed budget and financial plan for the public charter school are financially sound.

(See Appendix C. Financials 1. Projected Budget, 3-Year Financials, and Cash Flow Analysis).

16.  The standards for behavior and the procedures for the discipline, suspension, or expulsion of students.  A public charter school must comply with ORS 339.240 through ORS 339.280, Student Conduct and Discipline.

NCS and its contractors will model Eugene School District 4J’s standards for behavior and procedures for discipline, suspensions or expulsion of students.  Enrolling students and their parent/guardian will review and sign a copy of the standards for conduct and the procedures for discipline subject to NCS oversight.  Contractors will be responsible for the enforcement of rules and discipline procedures.  NCS will require discipline reports from Contractors.  Annually NCS’s students, staff, board, member organization and advisors will review and revise these rules and discipline procedures to set standards for the coming year.  These standards will comply with ORS 339.240 through ORS 339.280.

17.  The proposed school calendar for the public charter school, including the length of the school day and school year.  A public charter school must meet the requirements for instructional time established in OAR 581-022-1620.

The Network Charter School intends to have a calendar that parallels the calendar at Eugene School District 4J, with 171.5 days of instructions, with no less than 900 hours of instructional time for grades 6-8 and 990 hours of instructional time for grades 9-12.  In view of the small class sizes envisioned for the NCS, we request that the time requirements to ORS 336.615 to ORS 336.665 be applicable for small and medium sized classes.  The tentative schedule, subject to modification, will be as follows:

8:15 AM 9:45 AM Morning Module 1
9:45 AM 9:55 AM Cognitive Transition
9:55 AM 11:20 AM Morning Module 2
11:20 AM 12:20 PM Lunch & Cardio Vascular Break
12:20 PM 1:50 PM Afternoon Module 1
1:50 PM 2:00 PM Cognitive Transition
2:00 PM 3:25 PM Afternoon Module 2

18.  A description of the proposed staff members and required qualifications of teachers at the public charter school.  A public charter school must demonstrate that at least 50 percent of its teaching and administrative staff is TSPC licensed and that the remaining staff is otherwise qualified to provide instruction through a combination of experience and training.

At least 50 percent of all employed and contracted teachers and non-classified administrative staff in NCS will be TSPC licensed. The Network Charter School intends to include in this formulation teachers certified under OAR 584-042-0006, Professional Technical Teaching License.

Both the Oregon Educational Act for the 21st Century and the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act highlighted the need for Professional and Technical Education especially in regards to CAM. The goals of the 2000-2004 Oregon State Plan for PTE are to include:

The ODE has stated that upon State approval of PTE programs within the Network Charter School an Instructor Appraisal Committee, in consultation with ODE/ Office of PTE, may recommend that the Associate Degree requirement be extended, modified or waived based on the applicant’s training, work experience, industry certification/ licensure, completion of a related registered apprenticeship program or other qualifications.

Eugene School District 4J currently contracts with three of the member organizations in order to provide services for students with needs that the District cannot accommodate.  Many of the staff of these organizations has years of experience in their fields as well as many years of instruction serving as alternative education providers.  The professional experience within the NCS is extensive. We have culinary experts, photographers, bicycle framebuilders, non-profit executive directors, business people, farmers, artists, historians, biologists and many others with years/decades of hands-on, real world professional experiences.  Many of them are nationally known for their accomplishments. We believe that this State endorsed recognition of professional and technical experience in conjunction with the experiences of our instructors warrants inclusion of this licensure in the 50 percent threshold.

Teachers, staff and contracted groups who wish to work with the charter school will encompass a wide range of characteristics, some of which will be familiar as characteristics of “teachers,” and some which will be non-traditional:

See Appendix E. Personnel and Programs 2. Resumes: NCS Prospective Teachers.

The NCS Personnel Committee will work to hire staff with demonstrated skill, abilities and experiences.  The NCS Director will supervise and evaluate staff while working closely with each organization’s administration. This will include on-site visits, discussions with students and families as well as peer evaluation. Evaluations will include written staff performance reports.

Training and developing professional staff will include many areas of focus including classroom management, fiscal management, conflict resolution, multicultural education and competency, curriculum as well as other topics to be determined by the staff themselves.  Group development, growth, and individual development will be key to retaining committed, qualified staff.  Opportunities to access professional growth will include professional speakers, training in particular subject areas, workshops and in-service meetings dealing with overall school development and individual program development.  We will meet the requirement that 50% of teaching and administrative staff hold certified teaching licenses.  Funds are budgeted for this.  We will access applicable training and expertise through Eugene School District 4J and Lane ESD.

19.  A copy of the public charter school’s personnel policies and salary schedules.  A public charter school must assure compliance with local, state, and federal employment laws.  The public charter school shall be the employer of any employees of the public charter school.

The Network Charter School will comply with local, state, and federal employment laws (see Appendix E. Personnel and Programs 1. Personnel Policy).  By July 2003, the NCS board will work with the director to determine and approve the Personnel Policy and a detailed salary schedule with salary rates that are in accordance with the terms of this charter. A proposed salary schedule is contained in Appendix C. Financials 2. Notes: On Projected Budget, 3-Year Financials, and Cash Flow Analysis.

20.  The date upon which the public charter school proposes to begin operation, which shall be at the beginning of a new school year.  For the purpose of this policy, the beginning of a school year shall be any time between July 1 and September 15.  The starting date of a public charter school shall not have an adverse affect on the operation of local public schools or on the financial situation of the school district.

NCS will follow the Eugene School District 4J calendar and will start classes on the first school day of the Eugene School District 4J school calendar in September, 2003.

21.  The arrangements for any necessary special education and related services provided to children with disabilities that may attend the public charter school.  Since the district maintains its basic responsibility for the provision of education and related services of students who are eligible for special education under IDEA, all plans and procedures for the provision of special education shall be approved by the district.

The Network Charter School will partner with the Eugene School District 4J to determine eligibility and services for students with special educational needs.  The Eugene School District 4J shall be responsible for providing any required special education or related services to the students.  NCS will serve students with special needs identified by the Eugene School District 4J as requiring Individualized Educational Plans (IEP's). An IEP/placement meeting will be conducted for students with disabilities to determine if a placement to at NCS is appropriate to meet the student’s individual needs.  NCS will notify Eugene School District 4J of suspected needs for IEP assessment using standardized forms developed by the district.

22.  Information on the manner in which community groups may be involved in the planning and development process of the public charter school.

The “network” of the Network Charter School will extend deep into its own facilities and out into the community in many ways.  NCS students will be asked to participate on the Board to help plan curriculum, assist in school improvement plans, and assess the school’s performance.  Students will play the role of peer counselors to help with orientation of new students, help draft policy for code of conduct, and sit on a jury for peer court to help resolve internal disputes among students (see Appendix D. Endorsements & Community Involvement 2. Student Endorsements).

Parents will play a vital role in the health and stability of NCS. Each family will be informed of the many ways they may volunteer throughout the school.  We will look to our parents to act as Volunteer Coordinators and to organize our Fundraising activities.  Parents will be invited into the classroom to share their skills and professional expertise with the students.  Parents will also be asked to sit on the Board, plan Curriculum and help with the formation of a Parent-Student-Teacher Organization. (see Appendix D. Endorsements & Community Involvement 1. Parent Endorsements).

NCS will invite teachers, community members and groups to lead workshops, create apprenticeships and job shadow opportunities for our students. NCS will take advantage of the rich internship program through the University of Oregon and Lane Community College to provide specialized training for our students (see Appendix D. Endorsements & Community Involvement 3. Teacher Endorsements and 4. Community Members and Organization Endorsements).

NCS is fortunate to have the expertise and leadership of the members of the Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee (MCAC).  The goals of the committee are to:

Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee Members

Jose Luis Alonso
(541) 485-2711

Martha Cruz
(541) 687-2667 

Dr. Charles Martinez
(541) 485-2711

Cynthia Shallenberger
(541) 607-6904

Carmen Urbina
(541) 510-0302

Joe Bradford
(541) 337-7616

Anne Johnston-Diaz
(541) 689-1650

Guadalupe Martinez
(503) 537-4783

Maria Thomas
(541) 682-4788


Currently, we are conducting focus groups with Latino students and parents to introduce the Network Charter School students and parents, gauge their level of interest in NCS, and gain a better understanding of what their students enjoy and find challenging about learning (see Appendix D. Endorsements & Community Involvement 6. Student Focus Group Presentation Outline).  We are also working with key members of the MCAC to translate our outreach materials into Spanish.

NCS will work with partners to hold public forums to discuss education issues and encourage dialogue on how to get the funding Oregon schools deserve.  NCS will work with a variety of partners to provide Multiple Enrollment opportunities for students.  The network will reach beyond the initial member and partnering organizations to refer students to neighborhood schools, alternative educational sites, and other education programs when appropriate with the student’s PEP.  NCS would like to establish agreements with the Eugene School District 4J in order to develop Multiple Enrollment options with other programs in the district.  NCS would like to work with the District to plan, develop and promote adequate and responsible statewide school funding.

23.  The length of the initial charter shall be for two or three years depending on the quality of the initial application and information about the applicant's fiscal and program management experience.  If the applicant is requesting a renewal of an existing charter, the charter shall not exceed five years.

The charter term will be for three years of operation, renewable by joint agreement between Network Charter School and Eugene School District 4J.

24.  The plan for performance bonding or insuring the public charter school, including buildings and liabilities.  A public charter school must demonstrate that it is able to maintain adequate levels of coverage for property, business interruption, extra expense, liability, and workers compensation insurance.  The district will provide the exact insurance requirements for each applicant.

The Network Charter School will maintain adequate levels of insurance to protect the Eugene School District 4J as required under the Oregon Student Charter School Law.  The insurance plan will include:

The district will reserve the right to change the insurance requirements from time to time to be consistent with district practices.  Evidence of this insurance coverage issued by a company satisfactory to the district shall be provided to the district by way of certificate of insurance before a public charter school begins operation, and subsequently on request.  The public charter school must assure that it will provide the district with any notice of insurance cancellation.

The Network Charter School will provide the Eugene School District 4J with notice of insurance cancellation.

A public charter school shall be required, to the fullest extent of the law, to defend, indemnify, hold harmless, and reimburse the District from all claims, demands, suits, actions, penalties, damage expenses for liability of any kind, including attorney fees, resulting from the conduct of the charter school.

The Sponsoring School District shall be additionally insured on sections 1 & 3 and the policies shall provide for a ninety (90) days written notice of cancellation or material change.  A certificate of insurance evidencing all the above insurance shall be furnished to the sponsoring district.

See Appendix B. Governance 4. Sample Contract, for contractor’s proposed insurance requirements.

25.  The manner in which the program review and fiscal audit will be conducted. A public charter school must conduct an annual audit of its accounts in accordance with Municipal Audit Law.

See Appendix C. Financials 3. Financial and Investment Policy.

26.  A description of accounting and financial record keeping procedures, including financial reports, cash handling, and investments.

See Appendix C. Financials 3. Financial and Investment Policy.

27.  The written student and employment nondiscrimination policies and the process to be used by employees and students to file a complaint of discrimination based on disability, race, color, gender, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, religion, marital status, socioeconomic status, cultural background, familial status, physical characteristics, or linguistic characteristics of a national origin group.  The written policies and complaint procedures of a public charter shall be substantially similar to the district’s policies and procedures.

NCS will comply with Eugene School District 4J School board Policies 2430 (Equal Employment Opportunity and Nondiscrimination) and 5205 (Nondiscrimination and Harassment).  NCS will utilize the nondiscrimination complaint process outlined in the Eugene School District 4J’s Student’s Rights and Responsibilities Handbook.  NCS will not discriminate based on disability, race, color, gender, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, religion, marital status, socioeconomic status, cultural background, familial status, physical characteristics, or linguistic characteristics of a national origin group.

28.  The written safety plan.

The Network Charter School considers the safety of every student and employee to be extremely important.  We will utilize the outline of the Emergency Procedure Manual of Eugene School District 4J.  All contracting agencies, teachers and staff will be educated in its use.  Staff will hold current CPR/first aid cards.  Emergency permission slips will be updated yearly.  Each contracting organization will have emergency supplies and first aid equipment that is on site and portable in case of school evacuation.  Earthquake and fire drills will be practiced as required.  In the event of a major emergency, sign out procedures will go into effect to account for all students and staff members.  The Network Charter School will review the yearly safety audits of all providers to ensure that the current plan is meeting the needs and standards for continued student and employee safety.

29.  The written policies showing compliance with ORS 419B, Oregon’s child abuse reporting requirements.

The Network Charter School and its contractors will comply with ORS 419B, Oregon’s child abuse reporting requirements.  School employees will report to the Services to Children and Families (SCF) or a law enforcement agency if they have reasonable cause to believe that that any student with whom they have come in contact with has suffered abuse, or that any adult with whom they have come in contact with has abused a child.  Staff members may not inform parents of these reports.  School staff will cooperate with investigations of possible child abuse being conducted by SCF or a law enforcement agency.

30.  The written policies showing how the public charter school will comply with the requirements of the public records and public meeting laws, and the provisions of OAR 581-021-0220 through OAR 581-021-0420, the state’s administrative rules related to student records.

The Network Charter School will comply with ORS 192.610-192.690, the open meeting law.  All board meetings will be open to the public and all persons will be permitted to attend any meeting except as otherwise stated in ORS 192.610-192.690.  As of the date NCS has an approved charter, this policy will become effective. The Network Charter School will comply with ORS 192.410-192.505, the public records law, and OAR 581-021-0220 through 581-021-0420, the state administrative rules relating to student records.  The School’s policy will be School Board Policy 5500 (Education Records).

31.  The provisions for providing transportation to students who attend the school. The public charter school shall comply with the transportation requirements for students who participate in district sponsored alternative programs and who transfer between neighborhood schools.

The public charter school shall comply with the transportation requirements for students who participate in Eugene School District 4J-sponsored alternative programs and who transfer between neighborhood schools, to the extent that this complies with ORS 338.145.  Currently this means that parents are responsible for the transportation of their children to and from school programs.  NCS will refer parents and student to ORS 338.145, which allows students to board any Eugene School District 4J bus on any existing bus line.  Because NCS must work through the Eugene School District 4J to capitalize on state funded transportation reimbursement, the NCS seeks to work with Eugene School District 4J to obtain LTD bus passes on a basis that is consistent with ORS 338.145 and/or is revenue-neutral for the Eugene School District 4J.  Appendix C. Financials 2. Projected Budget, 3-Year Financials, and Cash Flow Analysis.

In addition, the NCS and the Center for Appropriate Transport will actively work with parents and students in lining up appropriate transportation for all students with multiple enrollments in the schools that make up the NCS.  Lane Transit District bus passes will be provided to all students.  Working with Lane Transit District, the NCS will assist students with tips on how to utilize the public bus system.  Bicycle repair workshops will be available to all students.  Bicycle safety classes and supervised rides will be provided for students in order to provide them with the skills to navigate city streets by bicycle.

32.  The alternative arrangements for students, teachers, and other school employees who choose not to attend or be employed by the public charter school if the applicant is proposing to convert an existing district school.

Not applicable.