A Sense of Community
Aspire believes in small schools to help create a community where each student is known personally.
- Small Schools: To ensure teachers know each family well, Aspire elementary schools typically have no more than 360 grade K-5 students; secondary schools are targeted to serve no more than 400 grade 6-12 students.
- Small Class Sizes: To allow teachers to give each student enough time and individual attention, Aspire maintains a 20:1 student-teacher ratio in kindergarten through third grade and a 28:1 ratio in grades four through twelve. Secondary students also spend part of each day in seminars with a student-teacher ratio of 15:1.
- Advisory Groups: Beginning in the 6th grade, each student is assigned to an advisory group of 15 students that meets daily with an adult advisor. The group stays together through graduation, and provides a support structure for students. The advisor is an important bridge between the school and the students’ other communities (e.g. family, work, clubs, social service agencies).
More Time for Learning
Aspire provides 15% more learning time than the average California public school, and uses time more effectively during the year and day to maximize in-depth learning.
- Longer School Day: Aspire schools have, on average, a seven-and-a-half hour school day for grades 1-12, and five-hour school day for kindergarten—resulting in about one hour more instruction each day than students in traditional California public schools.
- Longer School Year: Aspire schools provide 190 days of instruction, ten days more than traditional public schools. Some of these additional days are on Saturday, when parents can attend class with their children.
- Modified Traditional Calendar: When possible, Aspire schools use a modified traditional calendar (trimesters with shorter summer recess) to decrease the loss of learning during extended recesses.
- Intersessions: Intersessions are 1-2 week periods of deep exploration in a single topic. Aspire secondary students have 3-4 intersessions during the year, including at least one on a topic chosen by individual students according to their own interests.
- Block Scheduling: The daily schedule at Aspire’s secondary schools is organized around blocks of 90-120 minutes, so students can delve more deeply into subjects.