Resources at Nova
Academics at Nova are non-graded, competency-based and driven by what is meaningful and worthwhile to know and do. Students can create independent contracts and demonstrate competencies through independent inquiry projects and field experiences. Students have the option to request extra time on tests and assignments, extra support from teachers, alternative ways of completing assignments that still demonstrate competency. Students can create their own 3- to 5- year plan to finish high school based on the amount of time it takes them to demonstrate competency in all graduation requirements.
This approach requires personalized measurement for each student. When determining if student is making progress, we consider the following domains of growth:
- Are they making progress academically? Are they going to class, turning in work and earning credit?
- Are they making progress in guiding their own educations? Are they going to their advisory group, meeting with their teacher advisor, knowing where they are and what steps they can implement within their academic progression?
- Are they making progress in participating in our democracy (i.e. signed up for a committee, going to committee, discussing school issues in advisory group)?
- Are they making progress in participating in our community (e.g., not causing harm, positive contributions, supporting others, making progress to complete their school and community service requirements)?
If a student is not making progress, before moving to additional supports, we consider:
- Are the universal supports being provided fully?
- Is the student accessing those supports?
- What are the barriers to accessing those supports?
- How can we remove those barriers?
- What kind of accountability can the teacher advisor, student and family add to increase the student’s willingness to access those supports?
When we determine that additional supports are needed we have a two-pronged approach depending on if the student needs more accountability or more support. If a student needs more accountability, we create an alternative learning experience intervention plan. For more support, we engage a student intervention team.
Additional supports may include:
- Increasing the frequency of teacher advisor and individual and/or family meeting(s)
- Increasing communication between teachers, student, and family and teacher advisor
- Establishing clarity of expectations and healthy boundaries
- Support to improve organizational systems. examples include:
- A physical tracking system
- Regular quick planner checks with their teacher advisor and/or family
- Phone supports for remembering meetings/appointments and assignments
- Teacher advisor (aka coordinator) helping the student talk to teachers and getting back on track with academics
- Peer/staff tutoring
- Assisting in breaking down large assignments into doable tasks
- Drug and alcohol evaluation
- Evaluations for mental health, drug and alcohol and/or learning challenges
- Deeper assessment of needs and connection to resources, which may include more directed mental health or academic supports
- Support to complete community service hours for skipping committees/advisory group meetings.
If a student is still not making progress, we engage in a highly-individualized pathway where a larger team of supporters meets regularly with the student to determine how Nova can work better for them. The additional supports include increasing any of the aforementioned supports or highly specific supports related to these students’ immediate needs. We create a wrap team which might include counselors and community advocates, peers, other teachers and coordinators, administrators, and other supports as needed.
Students with Special Needs
As with any Nova student, those receiving special education services have input on the direction of their education. The coordinating system, with its personalization and support of each individual student, our small community, and the philosophy that students with disabilities should be with their typical peers as much as possible, allow many students in the special education program to participate in general classes.
Students who receive special education services have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that identifies the areas and amount of support needed for academic success. This serves as a guide for coordinators, teachers, and instructional assistants as they collaborate to help students develop a course curriculum to fit their needs.
Please call 206-252-2500 if you have questions or would like more information.
Transgender Resource Center at Nova
Nova’s Trans Resource Center was created and is maintained by students through the Action Faction committee to provide clothing, other resources, and support for transgender students, at and outside of Nova.