- 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.
- 2017: SmartFox, custom LMS/SIS and built by Method is launched, saving Method millions in software licensing per year
- 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.
- 2019: Teach Squad mobile stem labs launched
- 2020: Method enrollment grows to highest ever levels due to Covid-19 pandemic
- 2021: CIF sport teams are formed and Method begins competing against other schools athletically
- 2022: Method's largest ever senior class graduates
- 2022: Method curriculum experts beginning upgrading instruction to Competency Based Education standards
- 2023: Dehesa Method Sports Academy formed
- 2023: SmartFox 2.0, a massive upgrade to our SmartFox system, launches.
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.
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.
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:
- Academic growth for all students
- Enrollment growth
- Product and quality growth
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:
- 2018 Dehesa Elementary School District Charter Petition
- 2019 Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District Charter Petition
Charter authorizations are the ultimate accountability check for charter schools. If a school doesn't meet certain requirements (and those requirements seem to get more stringent as time passes), the school will be forced to close down. Charter terms are typically five years, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic terms were extended by two years.
We're always on the lookout for opportunities to bring Method to more students. However, a moratorium on new California non classroom-based charter schools is in effect until 2025.
Meet our Team of Online School Experts
Method does not operate with a salary schedule because we don't believe it's effective at motivating or taking care of our team. It also limits financial flexibility during outlier revenue years. Our team works hard, and we do all we can to pay above average salaries (because we hire above average employees). We do, however, strive for salary equity among our employees.
- Average teacher salary (2022-23): $77,461
- Benefits: Method offers full-time employees (30+ hours per week) comprehensive medical benefits and a 100% match 403b up to 5% of salary.
- Executive team salaries can be found on the Finance/Budget page by accessing our most recent IRS 990 forms. Click the "View Reports" button near the top of the page and use the IRS filter. Executive team benefits are the same as all other full-time staff members.
Who Can Attend Method?
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
- San Bernardino
- Santa Barbara
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.
In recent years, marketing has been a hot discussion in public education. It's important to note that charter schools, unlike school districts, do not have a "built in" enrollment base. As a result, charter schools need to be adept at branding, messaging, and basic product marketing. We're no different. We minimize marketing costs by focusing on good content creation that drives traffic to our website. In 2022, there were 816,261 unique visits to the Method website, with 6,271,174 website page views.We also place a heavy emphasis on online reviews. We don't engage in any traditional media advertising. Periodically, we will advertise on social media or engage in limited search marketing campaigns.
In short, our marketing philosophy is to listen to our customers, act on their suggestions, and make it easy for them to provide honest reviews about our school online and to their family and friends.
Finance & Budget
Our financial and budget strategy can be found here. But to summarize, we focus on our financial "Pillars of Fiscal Strength," which are:
- Maintaining a rainy day fund
- Incurring no debt
Starting out, having no debt isn't a realistic goal. However, we paid off all debts by our fourth year of operations and we've maintained no debt of any kind since then. It's allowed us to be flexible and to maximize our instructional outlay.
In accordance with finance best practices, we rotate auditors every 3-4 years. Our current auditor is Clifton Larson Allen (CLA). Copies of previous year audit reports can be found here, by selecting "Audit" in the drop down menu.
Why No Learning Centers?
Method doesn't operate any full-service learning centers. The school does have a headquarters in Murrieta but no students attend or receive academic support there due to various laws and regulations that charter schools in California are required to operate according to.
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.
Student to Teacher Ratio
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.
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, SmartFox, which has saved Method over $6 million since 2017.
- Limited administrative overhead costs
- 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.
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 March 31 each year.
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.
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.
Local Education Agencies (LEAs) are required by the California Department of Education to use a tiered approach to absences and lack of academic movement. The multi-tiered approach using actionable support systems to improve engagement and reduce absenteeism.
- Tier 1: Provides students and families with direct interventions, strategies, and information regarding their progress and challenges.
- Tier 2: Reinforces supports and expectations with ongoing personalized supports including but not limited to daily check-ins, academic goals, and specific deadlines for improvement.
- Tier 3: Intensive actionable goals are set and provided to families as well as an evaluation for best options and academic needs moving forward.
- Tier 4: In rare cases the intensive personalized supports and goals have not resulted in increased academic performance and ongoing absenteeism; a finding that independent school programs may not be the best option for a student’s academic needs.
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 2017, we estimate that we've saved more than $6 million in online curriculum and course platform costs. That's money we allocate toward lower class sizes and additional instructional pros we call Student Success Managers.
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.
Dr. Steven Dorsey, President: email@example.com
Shannon Clark, Vice President: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tyler Roberts, Treasurer: email@example.com
Gloria Vargas, Secretary: firstname.lastname@example.org
Carolyn Andrews, Board Member: email@example.com
For more information: https://www.methodschools.org/board