Rigorous Academics

Rigorous academics are the exception, rather than the norm, in alternative education.

Phoenix teachers embody a high expectations and college-prep mentality, holding all students to an incredibly high academic bar. Believing that all students can succeed under high expectations, Phoenix teachers challenge students to attempt every problem, extend every argument, and overcome individual learning obstacles with grace and courage. To ensure college success, the academic standards at Phoenix schools are high: students must earn a C- or better to earn class credit, and students are required to receive a college acceptance letter prior to graduation. In order to reach these academic benchmarks, students attend school from 9am-4pm 190 days each year.

Throughout our first decade, Phoenix students have pushed us just as much as we have pushed them. We’ve found that our scholars can master the demanding content of our most rigorous classes. They have driven us to radically improve our academic curriculum and philosophy to include the following:

icon-academics-ap AP for Anyone. Phoenix schools encourage all students to strive to take AP classes before graduation.
icon-academics-props Phoenix Readers on Point (PROPs). Many students enter Phoenix schools several grade levels behind in reading. PROPs began in 2011 as a sustained silent reading initiative to give students more time to practice reading and to engage students in the reading process. Teachers of all disciplines lead 35-minute PROPs sessions four days per week.
icon-academics-tutoring High-Dosage Tutoring. The Phoenix AmeriCorps Fellowship is an integral part of Phoenix’s academic model. Members provide daily, intensive 1-on-1 or 2-on-1 tutoring for all students preparing for the MCAS, as well as for students needing support in remedial math or reading, study skills, or English Language Development. Members create and utilize rigorous curriculum aligned with Common Core frameworks to ensure students have the opportunity to meet achievement benchmarks.
icon-academics-mixed Heterogeneously Mixed Classes. Students enter Phoenix with a variety of skill levels and challenges. Regardless of age, skill-level, or learning accommodations, all students learn together in the same classrooms. Phoenix schools employ an inclusion-based model for English Language Learners and all teachers are highly skilled in differentiating lessons, while many classes have AmeriCorps members who offer additional, push-in support.
icon-academics-categorized Categorized Classes to Ensure Framework Mastery. Across all disciplines, Phoenix’s rigorous curriculum is divided into three categories I,II, III). In this category progression, students do not advance based on seat time, but instead on the acquisition of specific skills based on proximity to graduation. For example, students in a Category I English class would be expected to master the fundamentals of short, expository writing, whereas in a Category III class they would be expected to produce a research paper without extensive teacher guidance. To ensure college success, students are required to pass classes in each Category, in each discipline, prior to graduation.
icon-academics-sat SAT and College Prep. College Services leads several initiatives to broaden academic support for students nearing graduation. While achievement in the classroom is critical for ensuring student access to college, the SAT remains an intimidating hurdle for many our students. SAT and college prep classes each quarter help provide our students the best chance possible for college acceptance, and persistence.
icon-academics-dual Dual-Enrollment in College Courses. To help our scholars prepare for college and acclimate to the post-secondary environments, we encourage students nearing graduation to dual enroll in college-level courses. These students remain fully enrolled at Phoenix but have the option of adjusting their schedule to include courses at local community colleges.

Phoenix seeks to change the definition of what is possible in alternative education. As our students excel in Advanced Placement courses, thrive in dual-enrollment classes at local community colleges, and consistently reach an increasingly higher academic bar, they prove that there is no reason for alternative schools to expect anything less from their students than academic excellence.