In Kinder through 5th grade at ACA, we focus on creating a solid academic foundation through engaging and dynamic classrooms for our students.
Creating Problem Solvers
At ACA we believe in so much more than memorization of facts. We want our students to become problem solvers and critical thinkers. Our approach to academics focuses on critical thinking and problem solving. We feel when students are able to participate in hands on dynamic activities within the learning environment, they are able to really grasp concepts rather than solely memorize facts
Fluency and Comprehension
In K-2 we focus on 1 hour of reading fluency and 1 hour of comprehension each day. This means we practice reading skills(decoding) for 1 hour at the students individual levels. Then, separately, we focus on comprehension at a much higher level for another hour. We discuss topics like US history and politics with our K-2 students in an engaging atmosphere. Studies show children can comprehend at a much higher rate than they can decode. So, we practice higher levels of comprehension in K-2 and then, by the time their decoding is matching up with their comprehension level they are able to read and comprehend high level informational texts.
In 4th grade the students rotate classes for each subject. ACA has found this model to be effective for both students and teachers. It allows for teachers to have a more focused lesson plan approach since they are only planning for about 2 subjects instead of having to lesson plan for 5 or more courses. Also, we tailor our professional development by area of focus. So, our English Language Arts teachers all participate in professional development together which allows them to hone and sharpen their skills in their specific area of focus even more.
At ACA we do quarterly benchmark testing for K-8th grades. We use a program called Galileo to perform all tests. They are an outside assessment system that handles all of the scoring. Parents can login to their own portal to view their students’ progress throughout the year.
In K-2 the testing gives us an idea of what they know and what areas they might need the most help. It helps us guide our instruction and empowers the kids to know exactly where they are with their mastery. It also shows us where we might need to improve our curriculum or grow our professional development.
In 3rd-8th the benchmark testing is fully aligned with AzMerit and it gives us very accurate predictions of how the student would perform and which areas they might need additional help. This also helps our students become familiar with the AzMerit testing format, so when the time comes for the actual test it greatly lessens the test anxiety.