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STARS Academy’s curriculum consists of four core academic subjects (Humanities [English & History], Math, Science) and elective classes. While we create our own curriculum, we align our curriculum with many California State Content and Performance Standards, including the Common Core Standards, English Language Development (ELD) standards, and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
For the last two decades, cognitive learning research has emphasized that student success occurs in environments that foster problem solving and self-directed, inter-disciplinary learning. When these are coupled with strategies that focus on creativity and resiliency, student learning is maximized. By having an integrated approach to learning, our students are provided with collaborative, intellectual, and artistic experiences within and across subject areas. This fosters inter-disciplinary discourse in which all students can take ownership, entertain a variety of perspectives, allow them to draw on each others' strengths, and help them explore and refine their ideas in the school community’s shared understanding of the world.
In addition to cognitive learning, in order to foster academic excellence in all subjects as well as powerful literacy, STARS Academy uses artistic discipline as an alternative gateway. Our arts, sciences, mathematics, and humanities curriculum is integrated so that is accessible by all. This leads to engagement by faculty and students and fosters ongoing intellectual inquiry. Our program is designed to emphasize the development of literacy in all subject areas. STARS Academy students participate in literacy through an in-depth study of musical theater materials, text analysis (in all subject areas), and all stages of the writing process. There is an inter-disciplinary emphasis on all subjects to deepen understanding of both specific subject content and broader conceptual themes.
In order to differentiate our curriculum to serve the needs of all students, we use a Parallel Curriculum model as described in The Parallel Curriculum: A Model for Planning Curriculum for Gifted Students and the Whole Classroom (Palmer). This model ensures that all learners have access to content, competency, and appropriate degrees of challenge, based on their current levels of development, rather than their chronological age. Our faculty reinforces exploration of steadily increasing levels of intellectual depth and complexity. Core and supplemental learning materials are varied and adjusted to maximize intellectual access and full participation for all students. Through the use of developmentally appropriate textual materials and strategies, students at different levels of academic achievement are able to concurrently explore, discuss, and actively contribute to a shared understanding of fundamental themes and concepts, thereby reinforcing STARS Academy’s high-level expectations for all students.
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