ISA'S SEVEN PRINCIPLES
ISA's model is framed by 7 research-based principles that lead to improved student achievement and significantly increased high school graduation and college-going rates.
COLLEGE PREPARATORY INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAM
Beginning in the ninth grade, ISA schools encourage students to view themselves as future college students and, through their four years in high school, prepare them for admission to, and success in, college.
The ISA instructional program focuses on intellectual, social, and emotional development. Through an inquiry approach to curriculum and instruction, the ISA schools concentrate on rigorous intellectual development such as the development of critical thinking skills and the habits of work necessary for rigorous intellectual productivity such as time management skills...
Building a safety net of support services across the school
ISA’s unique model of Distributed Counseling™ ensures that all members of the school have a role in making it a caring community. All the adults in the school are responsible for knowing students well and providing a caring, safe and supportive environment for them. Students also take a proactive role in activities such as peer mediation and conflict resolution...
DEDICATED TEAM OF TEACHERS & COUNSELORS
Providing a consistent, four year support network
Throughout their four years of high school, students work with a consistent team of teachers and a counselor. This structure personalizes the school environment, creates strong, long-term connections between students and their teachers and counselor, and ensures that the support network is engaged and knowledgeable. The strong relationships generated by the team organization enables teachers to elicit higher levels of student performance...
CONTINUOUS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Establishing a professional learning community
ISA provides teachers and principals of small schools and small learning communities with continuous professional development opportunities including the ISA Summer and Winter Institutes and individualized coaching on issues ranging from classroom management strategies to the design and implementation of inquiry-based projects to performance and portfolio assessments.
The ISA Leadership Network provides principals and vice principals with a strong support network through interaction with other leaders of ISA small schools and small learning communities across the country.
Additionally, teachers’ content knowledge and pedagogical skills are strengthened through regularly scheduled common meeting time for curriculum planning, problem solving, and reviewing student work and progress...
EXTENDED SCHOOL DAY & SCHOOL YEAR
Extending personalized and challenging learning opportunities
Recognizing that learning continues beyond the traditional school day and year, the extended day and extended school year enable staff to provide students with structured time, individual attention and other supports necessary for their success with the school’s challenging, college preparatory curriculum. The extended time frame for learning provides additional opportunities for effective skill and talent development. Students have the time they need to get assistance with homework, test preparation, career- related activities, internships and community service projects...
Encouraging parents to participate in their children's education
ISA embraces and encourages parental involvement because of its positive impact on student achievement and satisfaction. Parents are encouraged to take an active role in school activities, to share their knowledge of their child with teachers and counselors, and to give staff feedback on their children’s experience and progress. Teachers and counselors keep parents informed of student performance, and work together as a team to provide strong support...
CONTINUOUS ORGANIZATIONAL IMPROVEMENT
Program Accountability: monitoring progress and refining program components
Striving for total quality management, ISA teams meet regularly to ensure that the program is aligned with the ISA Seven Principles and is fulfilling its goal to create and sustain an intellectually rigorous and caring, personalized learning environment. Schools use multiple mechanisms to assess their organizational and program effectiveness including: critical friends processes, peer observations, reviews of student work, analysis of student performance data such as course pass rates and attendance, and growth on ISA writing and math assessments, surveys of students’ attitudes and expectations about school and their future, and documentation reports on the implementation of ISA principles...