Method was founded in 2013 by Dr. Jessica Spallino and Mark Holley. Method Schools was approved by Dehesa in 2013, and began operations in August 2014. It was reauthorized by Dehesa in June 2018 for a second five-year term. Method LA was formed in 2018 after the merging of Method Schools K-8 and Method Schools High School. Both of those schools were authorized in 2014 and began operations in July 2015. The new "Method LA" was reauthorized by Acton Agua Dulce USD in May 2019.
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:
Both Method charters are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) through June 30, 2024. This is the second accreditation term for Method. You can learn more about WASC here: http://directory.acswasc.org/directory-searchlist.php
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 facet of the organization.Our Mission
Each year we set goals and initiatives to reflect our direction and areas of emphasis. However, our 3 "north star" goals that serve as a foundation every year are 1) academic growth for all students, 2) enrollment growth, and 3) product and quality growth.
Enrollment is open to all students in grades K-12, who aren't concurrently enrolled at another school, in these counties: Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Kern, and 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:
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. Due to 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. This was closed in 2015.
Method students work from home or wherever they are, 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 at times Method dispatches staff to their locations. Beginning in Fall 2019 Method will be operating two "teach squad" mobile stem labs to reach home school and other non seat-based students. This is in response to CA AB 1507 and demand from students and parents.
At Method, teacher support is provided virtually and opportunities for scheduled teacher support in Method regions. California law has become increasingly difficult to navigate as a charter school, and particularly as an non-traditional independent study program.
In lieu of instructional funding awarded to students, a common practice for home school programs, Method provides "compliments" to students' educational experience. Compliments include field trips, enhanced PE, tutoring services, music/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 the board members. However, it was discontinued because some purchase requests were deemed questionable by Method staff and weren't approved, and because providing instructional funds closely imitates a voucher system, which isn't legal in California.
Both Method charters adhere to a 25:1 student/teacher ratio using California credentialed teachers. For 2019-20 both charters are lowering 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. How do we afford to drop to a 20:1 ratio when teacher instruction is the biggest budgeted line item we have? It's through saving money by using our own curriculum, by not offering a pension (we offer a 403b plan instead, which helps us control benefits costs) plan to employees, and by not having a parent company.
Method doesn't award instructional funds to students. Rather, the school purchases goods and services from vendors and merchants like any other business, or school district for that matter. That said, we aren't a district 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.
Method’s Track A (Amber Track) was conceived as a way to maximize enrollment opportunities at the school by serving a wider array of students and was done to compensate for the fluid nature of non-classroom-based independent study. However, rather than design the track to maximize attendance only, the goal has always been to build the best possible online school option for students. To do this it required us to partner with, rather than compete with, traditional public high schools and school districts. Track A, now called Amber Track, is one of two attendance tracks at the school.
We partner with, rather than compete, with local schools and districts to help their students catch up and/or get ahead in order to graduate. Traditional schools aren’t always experts in online learning, just as we aren’t experts in traditional seat-based delivery, but as a non-classroom-based school that develops its own content, Method is. As a result, there are opportunities to work together for students.
Amber track runs a full school year for grades 9-12 and begins in July. Amber Track is often referred to as "summer school" or "Track A," but in reality it's a full 175 day track and always has been. However, most students who attend Amber Track use the program to catch up on credit or get ahead, then return to their previous schools.
Blue track begins in August, is also for 175 days, and is for students in grades K-12. Blue Track's calendar closely mimics a traditional school year. Blue Track focus areas include mobile steM, thematic field trips, compliments learning extensions, service learning, and the mobile "teach squad." These features are available for students in both tracks, but due to the traditional calendar format of Blue Track there's an enhanced emphasis on these features.
Below are 2019-20 attendance calendar for both Method tracks:
Method uses the SmartFox Student Information System to track and report student attendance. Attendance is credited based on the Method board-approved attendance policy, which is aligned to California Ed Code and independent study best practices.
Method Schools Work Sample & Attendance Documentation Policy
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 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 LP the student will receive full (100%) attendance for that LP. assuming the student remains enrolled and actively working in 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 opinion to decide the number of days the students was “present” so long as the student remains enrolled and is actively working in online curriculum
*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 and asynchronous learning but requires proof of completed work.
For additional information, please refer to CA Ed. Code 51747.
We developed SmartFox as a Student Information System first because we couldn't find a SIS solution that worked for our needs. We then expanded to include a Learning Management System (LMS) and online courses. Over 140 of our internally-built online courses are NCAA and UC a-g approved. The courses are mobile-friendly and intuitive. They also allow us to save money (since we began building SmartFox in February 2016, we estimate that we've saved approximately $2.7 million in online curriculum and course platform costs. Another great benefit is that the courses are customized for our students, we can improve courses quickly, and we get the data on what works and what doesn't - not an outside curriculum vendor. Curriculum is a core competency of our business, and not outsourcing curriculum is critical to our success.
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