Foundational Beliefs

Education is the catalyst for success in a child’s life.

The founding team of ALPS believes that when provided with the combination of a rigorous curriculum that focuses on background knowledge and civic engagement, highly-effective instruction, support, and a school culture that places a premium on long-term success, all students, regardless of background, can finish elementary school firmly on a pathway to secondary and post-secondary success. Through the following ways, ALPS’s teachers and students will act on this belief and prepare all students for future academic and professional success:

  • Teachers will:
    • Teach a rigorous curriculum facilitated by the foundational Core Knowledge Sequence, which places an emphasis on background knowledge and civic engagement and
    • Implement highly-effective instruction that meets the needs of all students, as determined by data.
  • Students will:
    • Demonstrate mastery of the rigorous Core Knowledge Sequence, which will provide learners with a wide background knowledge base in the arts, sciences, language arts, mathematics, and social studies and
    • Learn via best practice instructional techniques intentionally planned to lead to student mastery of content.

Through these aspects of the academic program and school culture, and a relentless mission-driven focus on preparatory academics, ALPS’s students will overcome the current demographic trends and achieve academic and professional success later on life.

College preparation begins in kindergarten.

Knowing that educational attainment is a leading indicator of students’ later success in life, ALPS is determined to do whatever it takes to ensure its students are best-positioned for these milestones. To ALPS’s students, families, and teachers, that means the preparation for college begins in kindergarten. By high school and middle school, key inflection points – such as math placement or consciousness about different college options – have already passed. In order for students to be ready for calculus in 12th grade, they must take algebra by 8th – and be successful in elementary and middle school mathematics along the way.

On campus, this means that:

  • Teachers will:
    • Continually tie lessons back to long-term college-and-career preparation goals;
    • Build a college-bound ethos in their classrooms; and
    • Provide high-quality instruction using the Core Knowledge Sequence, a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum.
  • Students will:
    • Visit colleges for field trips beginning in elementary school and
    • Reflect on the importance of college during lessons and throughout school by journaling.
Every child and adult in the learning community should be treated with dignity and respect.

It will take more than strong academics for ALPS to attain its goal of improving pupil achievement. A vast quantity of research has shown that school culture and climate have a powerful impact on students’ achievement. Positive, respect-based school cultures and climates are correlated with fewer disciplinary problems and suspensions, fewer absences, increased academic motivation, and improved student outcomes. This holds true for students, and for teachers as well. In order to maintain this strong, respect-based learning community,

  • Teachers will:
    • Explicitly model and teach core values, including dignity and respect,
    • Prepare instructional materials and deliver lessons that make explicit connections between the values of dignity and respect and academic content, and
    • Maintain and enforce high behavioral expectations.
  • Students will:
    • Make connections between the core values of dignity and respect and core academic content.
Every discipline has a body of knowledge that must be taught and skills that must be mastered.

Despite the stark statistics regarding educational outcomes, there is a very significant body of research regarding how people learn. This research suggests, clearly, that the process of learning is strongest when knowledge is taught in disciplines, and when the knowledge within the disciplines is presented in conceptual frameworks. In order to continue to build these conceptual frameworks, there must be a continual process of knowledge attainment. In short, when you know more, you can learn more – because the new knowledge can easily be meshed into existing conceptual frameworks made of existing background knowledge. Thus, the continual acquisition of knowledge is of paramount importance in schooling.

With this important research-based principle in mind,

  • Teachers will:
    • Organize their lessons into “domains,” or units, based on commonalities found in the Core Knowledge Sequence,
    • Prioritize the instruction of background knowledge while lesson planning, and
    • Ensure the direct instruction of background knowledge during lessons.
  • Students will:
    • Practice new skills using new knowledge in the context of concept-based domains.
The arts should be a part of every child’s educational experience.

As with the previous principles fundamental to the program of instruction, there is a vast body of research suggesting that the arts are critical to students’ academic and socioemotional growth. In John Hattie’s groundbreaking metaresearch related to the effectiveness of a variety of practices on students’ achievement, “creativity programs” had one of the highest positive effect sizes – meaning that the greater the successful implementation of such programs – including arts education programs – within the curriculum, the more successful students were. With that in mind,

  • Teachers will:
    • Teach the visual arts and music from the Core Knowledge Sequence,
    • Integrate creativity and arts-based practice opportunities into the core curriculum, and
    • Collaborate with community arts organizations to support rigorous, yet practical, curriculum planning.
  • Students will:
    • Participate in visual arts and music annually throughout their elementary and middle school experiences.
Civic knowledge and personal responsibility should be explicitly taught beginning in kindergarten.

Lastly, ALPS will emphasize civic knowledge and personal responsibility. Not only does this align with the requirement of the groundbreaking Arizona Civics Act, which emphasizes civic education, it also aligns with the Core Knowledge Sequence and the overall philosophy of TeamCFA, which is to educate the next generation of Americans. In line with this principle,

  • Teachers will:
    • Explicitly build civics content into their lessons, beginning in kindergarten,
    • Teach the Core Knowledge Sequence’s social studies domains with fidelity, and
    • Build classroom cultures that focus on modeling American civics principles (e.g. democracy) and responsibility
  • Students will:
    • Demonstrate mastery of content required for the Arizona Civics Test by the end of 8th grade through the Core
    • Knowledge Sequence, and
    • Participate in classroom and school-wide elections and self-governance exercises, when developmentally appropriate.