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Question: Why apply to the Open School?
Answer: The Open School is an amazing place of learning for children. But please don’t apply here because we have high test scores. Make sure this school’s curriculum fits your child and your family. This school is right for most children but we want to make sure that it is right for all of our parents. Make sure you are comfortable with our non-traditional, yet highly effective teaching style.
Question: What is the difference between a magnet and a charter?
Answer: Being a magnet school brings the Open School our diverse population. Being a charter school enables us to develop our innovative curriculum. As a charter school, Open School has a mandate to experiment and devise its own innovative, rigorous, standards-aligned curriculum that is authorized by LAUSD and approved by the state of California. Because Open School is also a magnet, the district takes responsibility for liability, physical plant administration, and supplies so that the staff can concentrate on their internal organization and teaching. The district also provides transportation to all students living beyond 2 miles from the school. The district also administers the admissions process through the Choices application.
The Open School was one of the first LAUSD magnet schools and we were the very first LAUSD charter school.
Question: Why are the students taught in clusters with two grades?
Answer: Students are taught in clusters with two grades because the Open School believes that dividing children strictly by age and grade doesn’t serve the child best because age levels are arbitrary developmental assignments. Each child develops at his or her own pace. Multi-age groups enable teachers to observe children’s progress and adjust the class curriculum to each child accordingly so each child is working at his or her own level. Also, if your child is the youngest in his or her grade, remaining in a cluster for another year gives that child a chance to be the oldest and a leader.
Question: If my child stays in the same cluster for a second year, won’t s/he be bored?
Answer: Each cluster adjusts the curriculum from year to year so students who stay another year won’t repeat the same work. Some clusters do a clear A/B curriculum, switching off each year to with each. Others adjust specific aspects to make the school year different each time.
Question: How many kids are in the school and each class?
Answer: TOTAL: approximately 410 students
- Green Cluster/Grades K-1st: 48 students
- Red & Silver/Grades 1st-2nd: 48 students
- Orange & Indigo Cluster/Grades 2nd-3rd: 48 students
- Yellow Cluster/Grades 3rd-4th: 48 students
- Blue & Purple Cluster/Grades 4th-5th: 60 students
Question: What is Open School’s ethnic breakdown?
Answer: Approximately (data changes yearly) African American: 30%, Latino: 15%, Asian: 15%, White: 40%
Question: My child is biracial. Which race gives my child the best chance of getting in?
Answer: There is no way to determine that because it depends on the makeup of the applicants that year.
Question: The class sizes seem so big. Are 48 or 60 students taught at one time?
Answer: The classes may seem big, but because there are two teachers in the classroom, the student-to-teacher ratio is actually the same as other LAUSD classes, and even better for the 4th and 5th grades. (One teacher per every 35 students in 4th – 5th grade in LAUSD vs. 1 teacher for 30 students at Open.) Throughout the day, the children are broken up into smaller groups to learn various topics and go to their specialty classes in halves. There are also 2 part-time aides in the classroom.
Question: What is your behavior management/discipline philosophy?
Answer: We work very hard to make sure discipline is equitable and fair. We’re proactive in terms of establishing a community of respect. There’s no tolerance of bullying and teasing.
Children are encouraged to use their words and if that doesn’t work, they’re encouraged to find the nearest adult. All parties involved in an incident sit down and write about the incident, then the principal or assistant principal sits down with the kids to discuss both sides to determine what happened and come to an agreement. When children are disciplined, the punishment they receive is not based on who they are as individuals but on what precedent has been set in similar situations so that no one is favored or unfairly penalized.
Question: What about field trips?
Answer: We believe in fostering learning outside of the classroom. Each cluster goes on three field trips a year, sometimes more.The 4th/5th grade clusters go on multi-day field trips each fall; one to Catalina Island and the other to an environmental camp in the mountains of Santa Barbara or Santa Cruz.
Question: How is reading taught?
Answer: The Open School uses a mix of phonics and whole language. We focus on individualized reading and meeting the child’s interests as opposed to each child reading the same book. We use Literature Circles and Reader’s and Writer’s Workshops. We use the Socratic Method and Junior Great Books. Children are required to read (or be read to) a certain amount of time each day, depending upon the grade.
Question: How is math taught?
Answer: We use hands-on math instruction, problem solving, and real life applications, which include math programs such as Context for Learning, CGI (Cognitively Guided Instruction), and Singapore Math. Math instruction is integrated into the themes of the clusters. We also utilize the computer-based program ST (Spatio-Temporal) Math to promote math comprehension and proficiency through visual learning.
Question: What are the school hours?
Answer: School begins at 8:05 am every morning. School ends at 2:30 pm everyday except Tuesdays, when school ends at 1:15 pm because of teacher trainings.
Question: How is your school governed?
Answer: The Open School is governed by a 24-member Governing Council consisting of 12 parents and 12 teachers and administrators. The Council determines how funds raised by the parents are spent, provides advice on curriculum and staff hiring, plans special programs for Open School families, and organizes site improvements, among many other activities.
Question: How involved are the parents/caregivers?
Answer: The Open School is a wonderful school because of the incredible involvement of the parents. Through Friends of Open School, parents help to raise over $260,000 per year to pay for the teacher specialists, field trips, and many other activities. Parents also help out daily in the classrooms, assisting teachers with a variety of activities. Parents tutor students in reading through the Wonder of Reading program. And parents are involved in the governance of the school through the Governing Council.
Question: Does the curriculum meet the standards?
Answer: Yes, every classroom’s curriculum complies with the state standards for those grades. Our students also participate in mandatory standardized testing.