Ascent Classical Academy of Douglas County Granted State Waivers

Ascent Classical Academy of Douglas County appeared before the Colorado State Board of Education on October 11, 2017 for a hearing on its request for state waivers.  Waivers from state statute and rule are what provide the autonomy for a charter school to implement its own curriculum and academic program, remove restrictions on state licensing for staff, to allow a charter school to hire teachers with strong content backgrounds, and allow for operational autonomy.

The non-automatic waivers were approved by the State Board of Education on a 7-0 vote.

To view Ascent Classical Academy of Douglas County’s automatic and non-automatic waivers, visit the Financial Transparency page.

Information Meeting with Dr. Terrence Moore – September 28

Information Meeting with Dr. Terrence Moore – September 28

Dr. Terrence O. Moore

Dr. Terrence O. Moore, founding Principal of Ascent Classical Academy in Douglas County, will be presenting Thursday, September 28.  Dr. Moore is one of the leading advocates of classical education in the United States and its importance in the formation of our children.

Please invite your friends to attend to learn more about Ascent Classical Academy, opening in the fall of 2018 in northern Douglas County.

The event will be held at the Lone Tree Library, 1005 Library Way, Lone Tree, and begin at 6:30pm.

No “L” in STEM – How a Classical School Develops Leaders and Thinkers

No “L” in STEM – How a Classical School Develops Leaders and Thinkers

There Is No “L” in STEM:

How a Classical School Develops Leaders and Thinkers

As every parent knows, there is a great deal of buzz these days surrounding STEM education under the larger umbrella of “college and career readiness.”  Why our schools have not been preparing students very well for either college or careers over the last several decades—despite “innovation” in the form of fad after fad (many of them relying heavily on technology)—is a subject not brought up in polite company.  Nonetheless, we are assured that Every Child Left Behind a Screen is the new silver bullet for educational “excellence.”

There are many questionable assumptions built into this career-first approach to education.  For starters, it is far from established that the best way to study either mathematics or science is with a job in mind or by introducing technology as soon as possible.  How has giving calculators to students as early as the second and third grade honed the mental math skills of the nation’s youth?  Consider the last time you relied a clerk in a fast-food restaurant or coffee shop to make change with real money.

The larger concern, though, is what becomes of our children and our society when we view students as merely cogs in a large impersonal wheel.  The deliberate narrowing of our aims of education leads straight to a narrowing of human excellence.  A career-driven education (or training, really) fails to develop educated leaders and thinkers, the kind our nation badly needs.  Whatever modern innovations may strike our fancy, those in charge of schools should keep in mind certain permanent realities about the nature of human beings and their education.

The future of this state and this nation will be largely determined by the power and creativity of the human mind.  Jobs do not make the human mind.  The human mind makes jobs.

The human mind is largely the product of education.  The education that trains the human mind first and foremost inevitably creates leaders and thinkers.  The education that corrals young people into careers before their minds have been formed produces only technicians and job-fillers performing below their potential and little able to rise in the ranks of any career or profession.

The current chorus of “college and career readiness” is the siren calling youth to specific, predetermined careers but not to become leaders and thinkers.  For example, some states require programs that compel high-school students to choose “pathways” in specific careers, such as engineering.  Colorado is considering such programs.  Where is the pathway that invites a young person to become a judge, a military officer, a professor of history, a writer, or an entrepreneur?  Furthermore, does an entrepreneur, even one in the tech industry, not struggle as much with human problems as with technical problems in building an organization?

In whatever walk of life people choose, they must be guided by thought lest they act rashly.  Their thought must be informed by action to gain insights into human nature and achievement.  The best education in thought and action is the deliberate study of the greatest thinkers and actors of the past.  The most original thinkers in history have been those who have mastered the thoughts of the past: who have admitted themselves to be dwarves standing atop the shoulders of giants.  The greatest statesmen have been those who followed in the footsteps of previous heroes.

A traditional, liberal education—called these days a classical education—engages young minds with the greatest leaders and thinkers of the past.  The curriculum immerses the student in the written word, logic, rhetoric, moral and political philosophy, and the histories of great leaders.  Students must engage in Socratic discussion requiring them to formulate and express logical arguments in speech and in writing.  Students in a classical school encounter arguments, documents, philosophical positions, and examples of leadership not normally explored until college, if even then.

A thorough study of the sciences teaches one to observe, to understand, to live and thrive in, and often to wonder at, the natural world.  A thorough study of the human arts—of English and literature and history and government—teaches one to live and thrive in the human world and, when called upon, to lead.  Both courses of study are essential to human flourishing and necessarily support each other.  Both are taught well in any classical school worth its salt.

And, yes, the graduates of classical schools go on to get “good jobs” and often make their own jobs.  The mind trained on the classics will prove to be an agent of clarity and conviction in a confusing world.  The reader of Cicero will not fail to make his point in a modern business meeting.  The student of political philosophy who has learned to reason from first principles will not falter in writing her organization’s compelling mission statement.  The student of oratory who cut his rhetorical teeth on Patrick Henry will manage to make Power Point exciting—or even be so bold as to speak to, nay inspire, an audience without it.

Dr. Terrence O. Moore– Dr Terrence O. Moore – Founding Principal of Ascent Classical Academy of Douglas County

Douglas County Board of Education Approves ACA DougCo Contract

The Douglas County Board of Education approved Ascent Classical Academy of Douglas County’s charter contract at its August 1 meeting.  The school now has its 5-year agreement and the team is looking forward to the work ahead to prepare the school to open in September of 2018.

Included in the pre-opening conditions is the requirement to have the school 75% enrolled by January 31, 2018.  The school team will be working hard to enroll students early and will likely hold its lottery in late-October or early-November.  We will provide parents advance notice of the lottery and any important dates via our email newsletter.

If you have not completed an Expression of Interest yet, please do so today to ensure your child is included in our lottery.

 

Ascent Classical Academy of Douglas County Approved by School Board

Ascent Classical Academy of Douglas County was approved by the Douglas County Board of Education at its June 20 meeting.

Ascent Classical is a K-12 charter public school opening in the fall of 2018 with grades K-10.  The school is replicating the successful classical school model proven across the state of Colorado.  It is the first expansion under the Ascent Classical Academies network and is based on Golden View Classical Academy, the flagship school in Jefferson County.

Ascent Classical will offer direct, teacher-led instruction in the grammar school with a strong focus on literacy using an explicit phonics approach, the content-rich Core Knowledge sequence, and ability-grouped Singapore math.  Older students will participate in more Socratic learning studying primary sources and Latin to deepen their understanding of the English language.

Ascent Classical’s rigorous academic program and focus on developing good charter and virtue is designed to prepare its students to flourish in life.

With the school’s charter approved, founding principal Dr. Terrence O. Moore stated, “I’m looking forward to recruiting teachers well-versed in the liberal arts and sciences to teach this demanding curriculum and talking with parents about what to expect in a classical school.”

Derec Shuler, CEO of Ascent Classical Academies, hailed the decision of the Douglas County School Board for recognizing the strong demand of parents to have a classical charter school option.

The school will be finalizing its future campus location in northern Douglas County, near the I-25 corridor, in the next several months.

As a part of the Ascent Classical Academies network, the school is the second charter school in Colorado affiliated with the Barney Charter School Initiative at Hillsdale College.

To apply for the Ascent Classical Academy lottery, please complete a non-binding and confidential Letter of Commitment today.

Stanford CREDO Study Finds CMO Charter Schools Have Positive Impact on Student Performance

Stanford CREDO Study Finds CMO Charter Schools Have Positive Impact on Student Performance

CREDO logoA recently released report from CREDO at Stanford University looks at the effects of charter public schools associated with a charter management organization (CMO), a relationship used with Ascent Classical Academies and the recently approved charter school in Douglas County.

The findings show that charter schools partnered with a non-profit CMO using proven models demonstrate improved education outcomes for children.  The study also concludes that CMOs that maintain more direct control over school operations post higher gains than contracting out services to external third-party vendors.  CMOs show their strongest effect with traditionally underserved populations, that include minorities and children living in poverty.

Find the report Executive Summary here.

 

The High-Level Summary of CREDO Findings

1. On the whole, the analyses in this study show attending a charter school that is part of a larger network of schools is associated with improved educational outcomes for students. The history of CREDO’s research work has shown steady and consistent, even if gradual, improvement in charter school network performance. It is reasonable to expect current policies to result in continued improvement. However, there is still room for charter school authorizers to accelerate the rate of improvement by ensuring only the finest of charter school organizations are given the privilege of expanding their services to multiple schools.

 

2. The management arrangements of the network provider influence the typical gains that students make. Schools that contract with external vendors for much or all of the school operations post lower results than network operators that maintain direct control over their operations.

 

3. Charter school operators that hold non-profit status post significantly higher student academic gains than those with a for-profit orientation. For-profit operators have results that are at best equal to the comparison traditional public school students (reading) or worse (math).

 

4. Charter organizations have their strongest effects with traditionally underserved populations such as black and Hispanic students. This finding is consistent with previous CREDO research that shows minority students and students in poverty have the strongest gains from attending charter schools. Encouraging expansion of networks with a proven track records of success with these students has a strong likelihood of improving the quality of educational outcomes across the nation.

 

5. The effectiveness of charter school organizations varies across states. Several factors can contribute to these differences. One of the most obvious factors is differences in state policies around charter school practices and authorizing. While studies such as this can identify differences, there is a strong need for more qualitative research around state practices which lead to better out outcomes for students.

We Need Your Help – 3 Steps to Help Ascent

We Need Your Help – 3 Steps to Help Ascent

Attention all future parents and supporters, The Douglas County School Board will be voting our our charter application in June 20!

 

The District’s review team came back with a bizarre recommendation that our school be denied, based on a flawed process with shortcomings and omissions we have made the clear to the District.

 

This is an important meeting and we need your help to show we want a high-quality K-12 classical charter school in Douglas County.

Will you take the following 3 steps to help us with the Douglas County School Board?

Step One – Plan to attend the Douglas County School Board meeting on June 20, 2017.  The meeting are held at 620 Wilcox St, Castle Rock, CO.  The meeting will start at 6pm and we will send a link to the agenda when it’s released.  We are offering 2 volunteer credits that count toward Founding Family status if you attend and sign in.

Step Two – Sign up and make a public comment in support of our school.  You can sign up for public comment now at this link.  Helpful points include reminding the board our school has significant public support, telling your story of what school choice means for your family, any experiences you’ve had with classical education, and how charter schools have helped your child with special needs.  If you choose to make a public comment, please complete the below form so we know you’ll be speaking.

Step Three – Write the Board a Letter of Support.  We have provided a sample email to send board members expressing support for our school.

We appreciate your help and look forward to serving you and your family!

Email Letter of Support

Please take a couple minutes to send the Douglas County School Board an email asking them to support our charter application.

Below is sample text that you are welcome to modify.  It’s always a good thing to provide your own perspective in addition to what’s provided.  Thank you for your support!


Address to:

james.geddes@dcsdk12.org,annemarie.lemieux@dcsdk12.org, steven.peck@dcsdk12.org, david.ray@dcsdk12.org, judith.reynolds@dcsdk12.org, meghann.silverthorn@dcsdk12.org, wendy.vogel@dcsdk12.org, erin.kane@dcsdk12.org, support@ascentclassical.org

Subject:

Please Support Ascent Classical Academy

Body:

Dear Douglas County School Board Directors,

I am writing to ask for your support for Ascent Classical Academies and for you to approve their application.  The Ascent Classical model is one not available to Douglas County families, though it’s proven to be among the most successful programs in the state of Colorado.  Ascent Classical Academy of Douglas County has almost filled its available space though the school is still one year out from opening.  This is a clear indication of demand for this school and is attracting many families who have currently “choiced-out” of Douglas County public schools or do not currently live in our community.

As a replication school, Ascent has the support and experience to implement a strong program on Day One.  The Ascent Classical Academy proposal follows best practices and guidelines for replication and are committed to establishing an excellent school for our children.

Thank you for your time and I again ask for your support for this school.

Summer Reading Suggestions

Summer Reading Suggestions

Girl Reading in LibraryWith school out for the summer, many parents want to know what kinds of books their children should be reading.  The following suggestions are taken from our sister-school Golden View Classical Academy.


Download the summer reading list


Kindergarten – Second Grade

Kindergarten

The most important thing you can do to help your incoming Kindergarteners is to read to and with them. Devote some time every day to reading aloud with your child, and help your child think about the book by asking thoughtful questions as you go. For instance, why do you think a character does what she does? What do you think they are thinking about when they do something interesting or notable? If your child is especially interested in a particular character or passage, ask him or her to repeat part of the story to the rest of your family. Visit the library and explore new subjects. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes, by Robert Frederick Publishers
  • The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose, by Arnold Lobel
  • The Classic Treasury of Aesop’s Fables, by Don Daily

First Grade

As with Kindergarteners, students in the First Grade benefit greatly from reading aloud with parents. At this age, listening to a parent read will expand their vocabulary and broaden their interests. Here are some suggestions that a First Grade student might enjoy:

  • The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss. Other rhyming books are great, since rhymes help students hear, see, understand, and remember the building blocks of words.
  • Aesop’s Fables: The Tortoise and the Hare, The Lion and the Mouse, The Ant and the Grasshopper, etc. (By all means, keep reading fables if your child likes them; doing so will not spoil those read in the next grade.)
  • Curious George books, by H.A. Rey
  • Books by Beatrix Potter, including The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, The Tale of Tom Kitten, and The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck.
  • Fairy tales, including The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Ugly Duckling, etc.

Second Grade

As with Kindergarten and First Grade, students in Second Grade should read aloud with parents and, if they can, take turns reading. At this age, listening to a parent read will continue to expand their vocabulary and broaden their interests. Here are some suggestions that a Second Grade student might enjoy:

  • Aesop’s Fables: The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Dog in the Manger, The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, The Maid and the Milk Pail, The Fox and the Grapes
  • Stories by Hans Christian Andersen (Parents should read these ahead of time to make a good selection, since there are some more adult scenes.)
  • Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling
  • George and Martha series, by James Marshall
  • The Biggest Bear, by Lynd Kendall Ward
  • The Magic School Bus books about weather, magnets, tools, the body, insects, animals, and plants.

Third – Sixth Grade

Beginning in Third Grade, students are assigned one or two particular books as part of their summer reading.

To help students think about these books, here is a list of productive questions for every grade:

  1. Who are the important characters?
  2. What is the story’s setting? In what place and time period does the story occur?
  3. What are the major events of the story, and in what order do they occur?
  4. What conflicts arise, and how are they resolved? Do any remain unresolved?

Third Grade

  • Little House on the Prairie (ISBN: 978-0064400022)

Fourth Grade

  • Guns for General Washington (ISBN: 978-0152164355)

We also recommend the following books:

  • The Reluctant Dragon, by Kenneth Grahame
  • The Sword in the Tree, by Clyde Robert Bulla

Fifth Grade

  • The Shakespeare Stealer (ISBN: 978-0141305950)

We also recommend the following book:

  • Number the Stars (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), by Lois Lowry

Sixth Grade

  • The Golden Fleece (ISBN: 978-0689868849)

We also recommend the following non-fiction books:

  • Herodotus and the Road to History, by Jeanne Bendic
  • Archimedes and the Door of Science, by Jeanne Bendic
  • Augustus Caesar’s World, by Genevieve Foster
  • Up From Slavery (Dover Thrift Edition), by Booker T. Washington

Upper School

In the Upper School, students should make notes in the margins to develop a habit of slow reading. It is good practice to write questions where puzzling passages or ideas arise, when repetitions occur, when characters are introduced and developed, and in general anything that strikes them as important.

To help students think about these books, here is a list of productive questions for every grade:

  1. Who are the important characters?
  2. What is the story’s setting? In what place and time period does the story occur?
  3. What are the major events of the story, and in what order do they occur?
  4. What conflicts arise and how are they resolved? Do any remain unresolved?

In High School, there is a main question paired with each book that students must answer. Each answer must be one page and one-sided, typed, double-spaced, in Times New Roman and 12-point font size. These answers are due on the first day of school in literature class, and will be collected for a grade. The late policy for homework will apply.

Seventh and Eighth Grade students do not have assignments to turn in, but must be prepared to discuss the books on the first day of school.

Seventh Grade

  • Watership Down (ISBN: 978-0743277709)

Eighth Grade

  • The Last of the Mohicans (ISBN: 978-0120000302)

Ninth Grade

  • The Odyssey (ISBN: 978-0140268867) – What kind of man is Odysseus?

Tenth Grade

  • Beowulf (ISBN: 978-0393320978) – What kind of man is Beowulf?

Eleventh Grade

  • My Ántonia (ISBN: 978-0486282404) – What is the American West?

Twelfth Grade

  • Anna Karenina (ISBN: 978-0679783305) – What kind of woman is Anna Karenina?