News and Announcements

"Schools of Choice"  How One Public District is Embracing Options

A recent Spokane Inlander article entitled "Schools of Choice" describes how the Spokane Public School District has implemented a vast array of educational options, including the move to Core Knowledge Curriculum in two elementary schools.


The Principal at Balboa Elementary, one of the schools to implement Core Knowledge, is quoted as saying, "The staff that piloted [Core Knowledge] has continually, since September, been coming in and showing me data around student learning. It is truly delivering deep content knowledge to kids starting in kindergarten."  She goes on to note, "Uniquely, Core Knowledge doesn't compartmentalize subject matters like most other curricula. ... It's all completely integrated." 


The Principal at Longfellow Elementary, another school that implemented Core Knowledge, explains why they adopted this curriculum, "Eighty-three percent of our students are students of poverty. By fifth grade in high poverty schools, you often see a slip in reading scores. There's a switch, the vocabulary and the text complexity really ramps up. They don't have background knowledge or access to the vocabulary."


The article further explores the Spokane School District's move to offer a vast array of educational options.  "The world of education is moving toward consistency.  No Child Left Behind, state standardized tests and the Common Core standards all represent the ways in which schools across the country are becoming more and more uniform. But on a local level, Spokane Public Schools is moving in the opposite direction.  Where districts across the state lined up to officially oppose allowing charters to exist at all, Spokane Public Schools rushed to become an authorizer:  The first charter school authorized in the state not only got approval from the district, the district assisted the school's creator every step of the way."


"'Options' is the catchphrase in Spokane schools.  Enthusiasm is building among teachers, administrators and parents for the new slew of options."


To read the entire article, please click here


Highlights from Recent Pivot Charter School Meetings
Pivot Charter School has held three public meetings to date with information presented by Pivot's Executive Director, Jayna Gaskell, charter school pioneer and  visionary, 
Dr. David Patterson (view video of his CCSA Leadership Award), Rancho 5th grade teacher, Kevin McDonald, and teacher and past charter school principal, Jennifer Avelino

The formal presentation summarized Pivot's history, mission and leadership and reviewed the laws governing "independent study" charter schools, including why Pivot is legally authorized to open a center in Novato.  Key program elements were also covered, notably the use of Core Knowledge as the program's curriculum and a "flipped" classroom model.

Core Knowledge is a detailed, sequential exposition of the content to be delivered in each grade, and knowledge "spirals" from year to year in an age-appropriate way. Kevin and Jennifer explained a "week in the life" of a student in Pivot's proposed program, noting the breadth of subjects a student would be exposed to and how that differs from more traditional curricula. Please review this summary of Core Knowledge by Grade for a better idea of content covered in K-8 in a Core Knowledge program.

"Flipping" a classroom requires a subtle change in teaching methodology that can have an enormous impact on learning and individual student achievement. The basic idea is to flip homework and lecture. Students view content/lectures, such as short videos made by teachers or content from third party providers (e.g. Khan Academy), at their own pace, outside of the traditional classroom. Then, in class students apply that knowledge by solving problems and doing practical work. Flipping the classroom transforms teachers from "sage on the stage" to "guide on the side," allowing them to work much more closely with individuals or small groups to differentiate learning and to address individual needs. Please watch this short video to better understand the flipped classroom model and its significant benefits to learning outcomes.

Last week's meeting brought lively discussion about similar sounding "Core Knowledge", which provides content standards, and "Common Core", which provides skills standards. Core Knowledge a is robust, comprehensive and content-rich curriculum that meets and exceeds the Common Core State Standards that many districts are currently trying to implement.  For more on this subject, please read the Marin IJ Op-Ed piece written by Kevin McDonald.

Proposed Pivot Charter School K-8 Program in Novato
Pivot Charter School, North Bay is proposing a new independent study resource center opening in Novato for the 2014-2015 school year. This elementary and middle school program would be free and open to any interested North Bay family and will feature: 

- Core Knowledge, a rigorous, detailed and sequential curriculum that is aligned with Common Core State Standards

- A “blended learning” or “flipped” classroom model that allows teachers to focus on individual student needs and achievement

- Common school-wide instruction allowing students to learn at their ability level vs. grade level

- High academic and behavioral expectations, with a focus on global studies

- Caring teachers 

For more information, interested parents are encouraged to visit or call 707-843-4676.