Frequently Asked Questions
What makes North Star unique?
North Star is a Mead School District Parent Partnership Program designed to serve parents who want to be the primary educators of their children. Families who choose this program prefer to provide the bulk of their child's academic instruction at home. They access this program to round out the curriculum, selecting clubs which primarily enrich, rather than replace, academic instruction at home. Our clubs are rich in content, but do not replace instruction at home. Teachers and parents work together to design an education specifically suited to each child...with a combination of educational activities and clubs as well as off-site courses. The site-based classes are designed according to parent input and reflect the needs of our particular families. We honor parents and partner with them to provide support.
What is the mission statement for North Star?
We collaborate with parents to customize education in order to prepare students for life's responsibilities, challenges and opportunities.
What are the options available through North Star?
Families can choose from core and enrichment activities offered at North Star or access activities that are more suited to a large group, like drama. Families can get to know other like-minded families and form a support network. From the curriculum library available through the Mead program, parents can review various curriculum to select those that are a good fit for their children. Our certified teachers have experience in alternative learning, homeschooling and learning challenges. They are an excellent resource for finding and evaluating resources in relation to the particular needs of individual students and families. Becoming involved with North Star will enable you to access the resources of a school while being part of building innovative and creative options for families in a setting that honors the unique and beautiful individuality of each child and family.
What kinds of classes are available?
Class activities are offered based on input from families. We offer class activities that focus on enriching the core subjects taught off-site. PE, fine arts, drama, hands-on science; project based history clubs; life skills and job-focused clubs; and innovative technology class activities that integrate a variety of topics are made available based on parent preference. To see current offerings, check our class schedule and our course descriptions.
What are the basic requirements for enrolled students?
North Star operates under the rules of Washington State's Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) program Laws. ALE rules enable public school students to pursue a more flexible educational schedule in an individualized setting. Although Washington State requires that all learning be supervised by a certified teacher. In an alternative program, learning may take place outside the traditional school setting. Our teachers meet the documentation requirement by tracking and documenting student progress and achievement using WINGS. As a participant in publicly-funded education, families and students experience the flexibility, choice and control offered through our ALE programs and need to work with a consulting teacher to plan and document each student's unique learning path. Learning happens all the time so our approach is flexible. However, the law does require that we meet the following requirements:
- WSLP: Each student must have a student learning plan, written by the teacher in collaboration with the parent.
- Weekly direct student/teacher contact: Each student must receive a minimum of one hour (this may change) per week of instruction from a certified teacher. Contact by phone or email must occur DURING THE SCHOOL WEEK in the case of an absence.
- Monthly Progress: a monthly report must be completed on each child each month by a certified teacher.
- Annual Assessment: Each full-time student must receive some form of assessment each year.
These requirements are described in more detail in the right-hand column of this page.
Who teaches the site based classes?
Instructors are hired based on their knowledge and passion about their subject; their experience with alternative home-based education; their ability to serve multi-age classes with flexibility and warmth; their support for families and their ability to provide a highly engaging class. Some instructors are certificated teachers, others are not.
Are the students at North Star public school students?
Yes, North Star students are alternative public school students of the Mead School District.
Do all students take the Washington State Tests?
All full-time ALE (North Star) students must be assessed every year by Washington State law. Usually, this is accomplished through the Washington State SBAC or EOC tests.
Part time students (0.8 public schooled/0.2 homeschooled) are not required to take state tests, but are assessed during monthly progress meetings through a review of student work and reading/math probes that are brief assessments, which generally take place during progress meetings.
What is a WSLP?
ALE rules require that every student in an alternative school program complete a WSLP, or Written Student Learning Plan. This document describes what will be learned, how instruction will be provided and how learning will be assessed over the year.
As part of the enrollment process, a WSLP is established for each student in WINGS. Shortly after enrollment, the parent or guardian will meet with a teacher to develop the WSLP to personalize and more accurately reflect the student learning goals. The student learning plan must include the following:
- A beginning and ending date for the learning plan. These dates are automatically generated by WINGS.
- Estimated number of hours per week that the student will engage in learning activities to meet the requirements of the learning plan. This figure will be determined by WINGS when the percentage of full-time enrollment is indicated.
- A description of how weekly contact requirements will be met.
- A list of the essential instructional materials.
- A description of specific learning goals, performance objectives, essential materials, timeline and methods of evaluation for each subject and the Common Core Standards or EALRs addressed within each subject.
- A description of anticipated educational activities related to each subject of study.
has available a full array of educational resources for parents as they help their students reach their personalized WSLP goals.
Families meet with certified teachers monthly to evaluate progress and share successes. With the parent and student(s), the certified teacher will review the summary of progress entered into WINGS by the family and review work samples in each subject area. This is a great time to celebrate learning, ask questions and brainstorm creative approaches to learning. This process meets the state requirements and allows us to work closely as a team.
To meet state requirements, progress notes must be reviewed each month. A very specific format is required. Each subject listed on the WSLP must be addressed. The topics most recently studied, the progress competed and the quality of the work must be addressed. On-site clubs/classes are mentioned as activities for the course. PE must include at least 100 minutes per week. Here is an example:
In math, he has now completed 16/120 lessons with an average of 85-90% accuracy. He recently studied measurement, fractions and money. In Language Arts he has completed through page 20/36 in Explode the Code 2; completed Dailygrams 3 days per week and read from library books daily. He is currently enjoying the Billy and Blaze series. He is writing sentences to summarize his learning in science and social studies. He participates in a site based creative writing class as one of his activities. He works to mastery level. In science he has been working through his 3rd unit study, this time on butterflies and has completed entries in his nature journal. He participates in 2 site-based science classes paper week for extension and application. In social studies he has listened to and discussed 3 chapters a week in Story of the World 1. Recently he learned about the Egyptian pyramids and he created several related hands-on projects. He can answer comprehension questions at 80% accuracy. In fine arts he has worked on painting and sketching, completing several projects using leaves. He also participates in a site-based club for pottery as one of his learning activities. In PE he has been playing soccer for 3 hours per week and participating in martial arts and gymnastics clubs on-site.
Does North Star have open enrollment or a waiting list?
We do not currently have a waiting list, but the following is our policy:
North Star exists to support the instruction of students receiving part of their educational instruction at home. In alignment with our goal of facilitating competency-based learning as opposed to contact time for students, we have the following enrollment criteria should a wait-list ever be needed:
- Siblings of currently enrolled North Star students will be placed at the top of the wait-list , whether they are in or out of district.
- In-district students
- The final group to be accepted is new, out of district families.
When an opening occurs parents will be notified and they will have five (5) full working days to notify the school of their desire to enroll. If they refuse enrollment or if they fail to respond in the allotted amount of time, they will be removed from the waiting list.