Our Unique Approach

Students Learning at Options Charter School

Academics

Many students enrolling in Options enroll with different levels of completion of core academic hours. Often times the age of the student does not match up to the traditional credit hour requirements set by the State of Indiana. As part of the development of the ISP, the student and his/her advisor will create an academic plan that is designed to help the student complete all of the state required coursework.

All of the coursework at Options adheres to the Indiana Standards, but the manner of teaching and instruction has been adapted to ensure maximum comprehension and engagement by our unique student body.  We believe that student ownership of their academic path will create more engagement and success, so we allow students to have a voice in designing and implementing the strategies that drive their own learning.  Our instructional methodology goes beyond classroom instruction and includes laboratory assignments, experiential and project based learning, technology portfolios and practical demonstration.

There are three components to the Options educational approach: Foundations for Learning, Practical Applications, and Senior Institute.

As part of the requirements to receive a Core 40 diploma, students must complete 25 credits in the core academic areas: English, math, science, social studies, physical education, health, and eligible elective credits. Students will demonstrate proficiency in the standards to the classroom teacher before credit is issued.  If the student is unable to demonstrate proficiency, the teacher may consider the student for credit recovery through an extension of time allowed or additional learning activities. The process will repeat itself as many times as needed until the student has completed these 25 credits.

Once the student has achieved 25 credits, they progress to “Practical Applications”.  This portion of Options curriculum is designed to stretch the student beyond pure academic knowledge and into the application of that knowledge in a real life setting. The Practical Application portion is designed to prepare students for life outside of the classroom.

In this phase of the student’s academic career, students are required to complete projects in four areas: career exploration, college readiness, community service, and primary research.

Students may design their own projects, which must be submitted in writing and approved by the supervising teacher. This means that the teacher is responsible for providing assignments, but the student is responsible for constructing the entire project; establishing the proper contacts, following up on those contacts, meeting deadlines and obligations of the school, teacher and on-site supervisor, and creating and maintaining a portfolio that represents his/her learning.

Students can expect to spend a part of their day at school, and a part of their day on location. Most of the students at this level also need to complete required academic and elective credits. They may be enrolled in selected Core Academic classes to meet their Core 40 requirements.

During the first semester of Practical Applications, the teaching team works with the students, parents, and mentors to build student confidence and expectations for their future. Many, if not most of our students enter our program with no plans for continuing their education beyond high school. Often times, the exposure gained through the Practical Applications program can change their thinking. Project activities include college visitations, FAFSA preparation (college financial aid), and career and community research.

During the second semester, students participate in the Career Field Experience. With a targeted 90 hours of participation, students explore career fields through observations and internship experiences. The student may concentrate his research in one career area, or participate in multiple areas. The school staff and mentors assist with placement in each student’s field(s) of interest.

Primary research is centered on a student’s individual interests. “The Practical Applications English” credit may last one or both semesters. A student will work on this project until it is done well, at 75% or better proficiency. Here we raise expectations for work quantity and quality, with the goal of a student reaching college-level research and writing standards. The English specialist assists the students with topic choice, research strategies, and MLA formatting. The final project is a correctly formatted and documented research paper.

The Senior Institute forms the capstone for the Options academic program and is a requirement for all students to graduate from Options. At this point, students are expected to leverage the skills that they learned through their practical application experience to complete a project with minimal supervision. In order for a student to qualify for the Senior Institute, he/she must have: 1) accumulated more than 35 credits prior to the last semester before graduation; 2) been a full-time student at an Options Charter School the previous semester; and 3) be on track to graduate at the end of the term. Unless extraordinary circumstances merit a waiver. students who do not meet these requirements remain in the Practical Applications component.

The Senior Institute Project has four general guidelines. Students must demonstrate that they have followed these guidelines throughout the project.


Four Guidelines for the Senior Institute Project

1. The project must be interesting to the student.
We have found this to be the most important guideline of the four. The SI Project will most likely require more hours of dedication and focus than any one project the student has ever done. Therefore, the student must be interested and motivated. Like a profession to be chosen in the future, if a person enjoys the activity, the hours of commitment are exciting and don’t seem like a job or an assignment.

2. The project must benefit a community.
While we believe this project will benefit the student, it must also benefit others. Ideally, this project will be sustainable. A one-time shot to perform some temporary service is not adequate. That is community service, not an SI Project. This project should be of on-going value or it must be easily repeatable by others who can follow the plans to keep the program going. Many students continue to work with the non-profits that they have assisted post-graduation.

3. The project must demonstrate prior learning.
The student is earning a diploma by demonstrating he or she has acquired the skills expected of a high school graduate. Depending on the project, the student will bring in many of the skills taught K-12. This will include subject-specific skills as well as socialization skills. The senior must demonstrate that he or she can produce high-quality work, but must also demonstrate the ability to work well with others, communicate appropriately, make sound judgments and think critically to solve problems that arise.

4. The project must give the student a chance to learn something new.
While the project may involve a skill or interest the student has already acquired, the project must build new skills and new knowledge. This may be subject-specific, but it is more often related to new ways to organize and plan, new tools to aid communication, and new ways to deal with problems or obstacles.

Every student at Options will work with their dedicated counselor to develop their own personalized learning or service plan. This plan encompasses not only the academic progress that the student needs to address but also social and behavioral patterns that prevented the student from achieving success in their previous school. Many students come to Options with a significant credit deficiency and the individualized service plan (ISP) allows each student to follow a plan that will allow them to complete their high school requirements as quickly as possible.

Options allows students greater flexibility in when students attend classes. Students are required to be in the building anywhere from 3 to 6 hours a day depending upon the structure and requirements of their ISP.  Additionally, Options also offers evening classes at both campuses for students who need more assistance in end of course assessment (ECA) or in certain subjects.  This flexible scheduling allows students who are unable to regularly attend classes due to a medical condition or employment requirements, the chance to customize an educational schedule that works for them.

Options understands that students often work best when they have more personal attention. Our average class size is 15 students to one teacher. We cap our enrollment at each campus to fewer than 200 students to allow for a more intimate environment.

Options is not a virtual school. However, we recognize that some students need the flexibility that distance or virtual learning can provide. Options allows students as part of their individualized education plan the opportunity to complete assignments through an online education platform.

25% of Options students graduate with CTE credit