"Making Waves sets the gold standard in best practices for educating young people from low-income backgrounds. It is a model for raising achievement and attainment for less advantaged students that needs to be implemented in hundreds of communities nationwide."
Providing The Educational Opportunities That Change Lives
Curriculum and Instructional Design
Our goal is to ensure that every student, many of whom will be the first in their families to go to college, completes high school college- and career-ready. The Upper School has identified the skills and practices students need to master to avoid taking remedial courses their first year in college and to set them up for a successful academic and socio-emotional transition from high school to college.
While maintaining high expectations and an unwavering commitment to helping all of our students make college graduation a reality, we also acknowledge there are multiple pathways to college. For this reason, we look to help students identify what they are passionate about that can give us clues to potential careers they might be interested in. In this way, we think we can help students identify potential pathways to careers earlier, while also providing some context and relevance for post-secondary education.
In the Upper School, our approach maximizes the opportunities for students to engage in deep practice in a content area and across the learning program to ensure that students are "college-ready"and A-G eligible for admission to University of California campuses and competitive four-year colleges and universities. A-G eligibility pertains to students' preparation for and ability to fully participate in their first year of undergraduate coursework in the University of California system. By completing the necessary required courses in major subject areas during high school, students will have attained the general knowledge and critical thinking skills necessary for college-level work, without the need for remediation.
To this end, the Upper School will use the Knowledge and Skills for University Success (KSUS) standards, as well as partnering with organizations such as the College Board, to ensure that teachers and students are clear on the skills and expectations necessary for college success. The KSUS standards provide a structure to ensure that skills and curriculum are linked both vertically by content area and horizontally across curricula. Having both the Middle and Upper Schools on the same campus facilitates better communication to ensure that skills and curriculum are also aligned vertically with one another. In this way, Wave-Makers will have the opportunity to develop core skills and deepen practice over a longer period of time – from 5thto 12th grade.
For example, we want all students to develop the skills and habits of mind to be effective writers. The Upper School is developing common skills and expectations for writing that are aligned with California State Curriculum Standards and the newly adopted Common Core State Standards. These identified common skills will be vertically developed in a content area such as English Language Arts, identifying key writing skills students are expected to develop and master at each grade level. Horizontally, writing will be customized but standardized at each grade level so that specific and common writing skills will be developed and assessed in all of a student's courses, including math and art. Again, in this way, our students receive focused and concentrated deep practice in writing across curriculum and over a longer period of time.
The course offerings at MWA are designed with A-G eligibility and college readiness in mind. The most concrete way this happens in competitive high schools is exposure to Advanced Placement (AP) courses. If done with fidelity to the AP curriculum and year-end AP exam, students will enter college with a more rigorous and practiced set of college-ready skills. Planning backwards, courses in the Upper School and the Middle School are aligned to prepare students to engage and succeed in AP-level courses. All students will be expected to take one or more AP courses before graduating from MWA.