How Was Method Schools Founded?

Here’s a quick look at Method Schools’ history and founding:

  • 2013: Method was founded by Dr. Jessica Spallino and Mark Holley.
  • 2013: Method was approved by Dehesa Elementary School District.
  • 2014: Method Schools began operations.
  • 2014: Method Schools K-8 and Method Schools High School were authorized.
  • 2015: Method Schools K-8 and Method Schools High School began operations.
  • 2018: Method was reauthorized by Dehesa.
  • 2018: After the merging of Method Schools K-8 and Method Schools High School, Method LA was formed.
  • 2019: The new Method LA was reauthorized by Acton-Agua Dulce USD.

What Is Method Schools’ Mission?

Method Schools’ mission is to develop effective tools and educational practices that promote growth for every stakeholder. Through the continuous advancement of self-created systems and processes, Method Schools aims to cultivate a culture of growth throughout every area of the organization.

Is Method Schools Accredited?

All of Method Schools’ charters are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) through June 30, 2024. This is the second accreditation term for Method.

Method Schools’ Authorization and Petitions

The school name, “Method,” includes two California charter schools: Method LA, authorized by Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District, and Method Schools, authorized by Dehesa Elementary School District. The most recent petitions, both approved, are below:

We Keep Striving to Improve Your Child’s Education

Each year, we set goals and initiatives to reflect our direction and areas of emphasis. However, our three "north star" goals that serve as a foundation every year are:

  1. Academic growth for all students 
  2. Enrollment growth
  3. Product and quality growth

Meet Our Team of Online Education Experts

Our online learning team is staffed by online learning experts and certified instructors. You can see our most current staffing org chart details here

Who Is Eligible to Learn at Method Schools?

Enrollment is open to all students in the below counties who are in grades K-12 and who aren't concurrently enrolled at another school: 

  • Los Angeles 
  • San Diego 
  • Orange 
  • Riverside
  • San Bernardino
  • Ventura 
  • Kern
  • Imperial 

Method does not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, academic level, IEP status, or any other factor. Method's racial composition closely reflects the population base we draw students from.

What Happened to Method Schools’ Learning Centers?

Method doesn't operate any full-service learning centers. The school does have a headquarters in Murrieta where students from both charters can visit with teachers and get on-site tutoring. If California Assembly Bill 1507 passes, the Murrieta headquarters will not have any students on-site. 

Because of the Shasta case, which impacted non-seat-based charter schools tremendously, Method closed its Arcadia center in 2017. For a short time, Method operated a small tutoring center in San Diego, but it was closed in 2015.

Today, Method students work from home or learn wherever they choose, which includes a variety of training facilities for student athletes. Method doesn't operate schools or learning centers in these facilities. Those students attend school online, and occasionally Method dispatches staff to their locations. Beginning in fall 2019, Method launched two "teach squad" mobile STEM labs to reach homeschooled and other non-seat-based students. This is in response to CA AB 1507 and to meet demand from students and parents.

At Method, teacher support is provided virtually, and opportunities for scheduled teacher support are available in Method regions. California law has become increasingly difficult to navigate for charter schools, and particularly for nontraditional independent study programs. 

Our Latest Budget Numbers

📥 Method Schools 2019-20 Adopted Budget

📥 Method Los Angeles 2019-20 Adopted Budget

How Do Method’s Instructional Funds Work?

In lieu of instructional funding awarded to students, a common practice for homeschool programs, Method provides "complements" to students' educational experiences. Complements include:

  • Field trips
  • Enhanced PE
  • Tutoring services
  • Music and art classes
  • And more

For the 2018-19 school year, Method experimented with a limited version of instructional funds in response to market demand and compliance research done by school staff and board members. However, it was discontinued in part because some purchase requests were deemed questionable by Method staff and weren't approved. The program was also discontinued because providing instructional funds closely imitates a voucher system, which isn't legal in California. 

Crafting a Personalized Experience Through Lower Student-to-Teacher Ratios

Both Method charters adhere to a 25:1 student/teacher ratio using California credentialed teachers. In 2019-20, both charters decided to lower the ratio to 20:1 and will monitor the results of this change. Measurement will occur by comparing internal assessments and state testing results of students who were a part of the 25:1 and 20:1 ratios. 

Wondering how we can afford to drop to a 20:1 ratio when teacher instruction is the biggest budgeted line item we have? We can lower ratios with a few major cost savers:

  • We use our own curriculum.
  • Instead of offering an employee pension plan, we offer a 403(b) plan, which helps us control benefits costs.
  • We don’t have a parent company.

How Purchasing and Homeschool Vendors Work at Method Schools

Method doesn't award instructional funds to students. Instead, the school purchases goods and services from vendors and merchants like any other business—or any school district, for that matter. 

Still, we aren't a district school and don't want to be. Things move a little faster at a charter school, but we've put systems in place to make purchasing work effectively and appropriately. Method expenditures are listed on the board page of our website as part of the board packet. We're also audited by an independent audit firm each year.

About Method Schools’ Attendance Track

Each year, Method features one enrollment track. The track essentially mimics an extended year schedule. Due to the nature of non-classroom-based operations, many students come and go during the year, but students can only be enrolled in one school at a time.

Our internal research shows that students who remain at Method for an entire school year achieve above-average academic results. However, eligible students are welcome to enroll at any time during the open enrollment period. Enrollment for the current school year normally closes on or around February 28 each year.

Method Schools’ Attendance Tracking, Reporting, and Policy Information

Method uses the SmartFox student information system to track and report student attendance. We credit attendance based on the Method board-approved attendance policy, which is aligned to California Education Code and independent study best practices. 

Method Schools Work Sample & Attendance Documentation Policy

Enrollment Qualification: Every student will demonstrate ongoing academic progress as monitored and evaluated by a credentialed teacher to ensure qualification for continuous enrollment.

Work Sample Policy: Method Schools’ staff will ensure the following criteria is met in order to claim ADA for each enrolled student:

  • Collect a minimum of two (2) work samples per course with the correct name, date, and course title per learning period, for every student.

Attendance Documentation Policy: If a student completes the Work Sample Policy as stated above, within the learning period (LP) the student will receive full (100 percent) attendance for that LP, assuming the student remains enrolled and actively working on an online curriculum.

If a student does not complete the Work Sample Policy as stated above but does complete online work, a teacher should use their professional judgment to decide the number of days the student was present, so long as the student remains enrolled and is actively working in an online curriculum.

Note: Per Ed. Code, for independent study, the student’s attendance is not based on hours logged into the course but rather work completed within a given time frame (i.e., a learning period). For example, a student can complete the whole course in one week of the learning period and receive full attendance for that learning period even though they did not log in to the course every day during the LP dates. The nature of independent study allows students more flexibility with asynchronous learning but requires proof of completed work.

For additional information, please refer to CA Ed. Code 51747.

What Makes Method Schools’ Curriculum Special?

We developed an integrated, advanced online platform, SmartFox, to make it easier to manage students information, pinpoint learning needs, and serve students more efficiently. We built SmartFox’s student information system (SIS) first because we couldn't find an SIS solution that worked for our needs. We then expanded the technology to include a learning management system (LMS) and online courses. Now, more than 140 of our internally built online courses are NCAA- and UC A-G-approved. The courses are mobile-friendly, intuitive, and built to keep students engaged. 

In addition to driving better learning outcomes, this advanced coursework also allows us to save money. Since we began building SmartFox in February 2016, we estimate that we've saved more than $5 million in online curriculum and course platform costs. 

Also, because courses are customized for our students, we can improve courses quickly, and we can see data that proves what works and what doesn't without having to rely on an outside curriculum vendor. Curriculum is a core competency of our business, and not outsourcing curriculum is critical to our success. 

Method Board Members

Dr. Steven Dorsey, President: sdorsey@methodschools.org

Shannon Clark, Vice President: sclark@methodschools.org

Tyler Roberts, Treasurer: troberts@methodschools.org

Gloria Vargas, Secretary: gvargas@methodschools.org

Carolyn Andrews, Board Member: candrews@methodschools.org

For more information: https://www.methodschools.org/board