FAQs

SHIELD Academy > Parents > FAQs

GENERAL INFORMATION

Shield Academy is a tuition-free, independent study program designed to meet the needs of families interested in homeschooling their children.  With the guidance of caring, credentialed teachers, parents are able to “personalize” the learning situation to the individual needs of the student.  Because of our beliefs, a “one size fits all” curriculum is not required and we allow parents to remain the authority of material affecting their child’s attitudes, values and beliefs.  It is important to us to empower families in how they educate their students and what curriculum they choose. At Shield, our goal is to partner with our families as they develop leaders who are mentally, emotionally and physically ready to take on life’s journey.  SHIELD – Supporting Homeschoolers to Inspire, Explore, Learn & Dream

To support our families, each student is allocated instructional funds for curriculum, materials and classes.  Parents, teachers and students work together to make purchasing decisions based on personal goals, learning styles and academic progress, choosing from a wide range of vendors offering educational products and services.

  • Parent-­Selected Curriculum
  • Tuition­ Free Public Charter School
  • Grades TK – 8
  • Instructional Funds to Support Learning
  • Subscription Package Included
  • Fostering Creativity & Leadership Skills
  • Wide range of Vendors
  • Credentialed Teaching Staff

Charter schools are schools of choice for parents, students, teachers, and administrators. Parents and students get to choose to enroll in a school that offers a unique learning environment, alternative learning methodologies, etc. California law gives charter schools autonomy and flexibility in exchange for increased accountability and less funding than brick and mortar schools.

Every charter school has an authorizer which, subject to state law, may be a local school or state board, local university, or other entity.  In our case, the authorizer is Nuview Union School District. Authorizers are responsible for holding charter schools accountable for compliance with their operating agreements (“charters”).

Like all public schools, charter schools are:

  • Tuition-free and open-enrollment
  • Non-sectarian and non-discriminatory
  • Held to state and federal academic standards

Charter schools receive less per pupil funding.  This funding inequity between charter schools and traditional school districts has been clearly documented by the State Legislative Analyst, Rand Research and others. The gap can exceed $600 per pupil in base state operating funds. These inequities are often more significant than reported, because charter schools do not have equitable access to funding, and often must pay for some things, such as any facilities, out of their general operating funds. Charter schools also rarely have access to local school bonds or parcel taxes that benefit traditional schools.  For this reason, most charter school will do a bit of fundraising to support their school.

 

Independent study is a different way of learning – it is an alternative instructional strategy for providing regular education from kindergarten through adult education. Independent study students take the same courses as students in regular classes. Each student is guided by a teacher but generally does not take daily classes with other students. As the name suggests, each student works independently.  

We understand the importance of educational options for parents and students.  This choice is for the parent who seeks to be very actively involved in their child’s education.  Parents should be fully committed to creating a compelling learning environment and to being the best primary instructor for their children.  Our caring, knowledgeable Educational Facilitators (EF) will partner with parents to support them every step of the way.  As partners, we share the responsibility for your student’s success and we want you to know that we will do our very best to support our parent facilitators and students.

We are a home-based, independent study program. Because we are a public charter school, we do not charge tuition.  Students work with their parents and credentialed Educational Facilitator (EF) to develop an educational plan based on the family’s educational philosophy and student’s learning style. Families meet with their assigned EF every 20 school days to discuss assigned work, progress, and to collect samples in various subjects. In addition, Allocated Funds are set aside for each student to use for approved, non-sectarian educational materials, curriculum, and services.

Students are monitored regularly throughout the school year to be sure that they are making appropriate progress. The Educational Facilitators are in regular communication with parents and guardians to keep involved and aware to help students continue to achieve.  The parent, as the primary instructor, needs to inform their Educational Facilitators (EF) when they feel students are not making adequate progress so that collaborative efforts can be made to remedy that.

According to Charter Law, we are obligated to set standards for success and academic growth which students must meet in order to continue with us. We will work with students and parent facilitators to give them the support needed so they may continue with our program, but if a student is not benefitting within this unique educational model, they may need to be referred back to their school of residence.

Attendance in an independent study program is done via time value of the demonstrated work products and not by time in a classroom as in brick and mortar school.  This is why logs, required samples and meetings are an important part of student attendance.

Our school is an open-enrollment public school, serving families who want more say in their children’s education. We believe that each student has his/her own unique learning style and learning strengths and we believe families need to use methods that will work with that learning style. Shield Academy seeks to provide a home for students who value innovation, exploration, learning and dreaming.

We are currently accepting enrollment for the 2016-2017 school year.  We will continue to do so as long as we have available “seats”.  Once we are full, we will begin a Wait List. At that point, priority will be given to students with siblings in our program and then students highest on the list, with geographical location also being taken into consideration.

Allocated Funds – (AF) – These are the funds that have been allocated by the state to support the student’s education. Together with the EF, the parent and student will determine the best use of those funds as they request the purchase of materials / services from our approved vendors.  Any items purchased with these funds are the property of the school.

Educational Facilitator – (EF) – An educational facilitator is a credentialed teacher who partners with parents and students to develop and guide the student’s educational journey.

Parent Facilitator – (PF) – The parent facilitator is the parent who will be providing the primary instruction in the home.

Educational Materials & Resources – (EMR) – These are vendors that sell materials such as books, curriculum, science kits, etc.

Instructional Funds – (IF) or Allocated Funds – (AF) – These are the funds that have been allocated by the state to support the student’s education. Together with the EF, the parent and student will determine the best use of those funds as they request the purchase of materials / services from our approved vendors.  Any items purchased with these funds are the property of the school.

Lead Facilitator – (Lead EF) – Lead EFs are highly qualified, credentialed teachers who support the EFs by training, inspiring and encouraging them.  The Lead EF also provides oversight to the EFs, and serves as additional support for parents on the very rare occasion that the EF is unavailable.

Learning Period – (LP) – This is the the date range of  instructional days between Learning Period Meetings.  There are usually nine or ten Learning Periods a year.

Master Agreement – (MA) – This is the year long agreement between the parent, the student and the school.  It documents the course of study, curriculum, and the time, manner and frequency of the monthly meetings. This document must be resubmitted at the beginning of each year and is needed before enrollment can begin.

Online Purchasing System – (OPS) – This is the system our school uses to place requests for orders and it is what the Vendor Team use to put in orders and manage the instructional funds, orders, invoices, purchase orders and inventory.

Student Information System – (SIS) – This is the system that schools use to entering student-related data such as attendance, grades, courses, enrollment information etc.

Vendor Course Instruction – (VCI) – These are vendor who provide educational services such as classes or lessons.

Western Association of Schools and Colleges – (WASC) – A committee of educators from within the state who evaluate and approve schools for accreditation based on the organization’s criterion. One of their purposes is to ensure educational best practices.

An Educational Facilitator (EF) is your caring, knowledgeable partner and your connection to SHIELD Academy.   The EF is a credentialed teacher whose primary focus is to ensure that students are progressing academically and are completing their work.  The EF will also be there to partner with parents to reach that goal.  EFs meet with parent/guardian and student(s) every 20 days to be an audience as the student(s) present what they have learned during the learning period.

Because the EF assignment is based on the date we receive your application and where you live, your EF may or may not live in your immediate area.  EFs are required to be well versed in different styles of learning and will work closely with you to best understand your child’s learning needs.  Our EFs are kind, caring individuals and we select wonderful EFs because we want to provide our families with an ideal situation.  Trust us, you will LOVE your EF.  Our staff is amazing!

MEETING WITH YOUR EDUCATIONAL FACILITATOR (EF)

It depends on when you enroll.  If you enroll during the summer, our teaching staff is on summer break.  You can try to reach out to them but do understand that they are on their much-needed vacations, so response time may not be immediate. They will contact you to discuss the first meeting.  Your first meeting may be at the Orientation Meeting and Vendor Fair in July, or it may be sooner as schedules allow.  During the summer, we have fun park events planned and you can meet some of the EFs at those events as well.

You will meet in a location that is agreeable to you both.  The majority of our families  will meet their EFs in locations such as a local libraries, coffee shops, cafes, parks, or another public facility.  We recommend a midway point between your residence and the EF’s residence.

The required Learning Period meetings take place once every 18-20 school days. The meetings take approximately 30 – 40 minutes per student, however if there are several students in one family, the total amount of time will change as the students may all be working with the EF simultaneously.

Our EFs schedule their meetings early in the year so as to give families plenty of time to plan ahead. A missed meeting will be recorded as a breach of contract (Master Agreement)  and may result in a probationary status.  Any other missed meetings or samples during the probationary period will result in an evaluation meeting with student, parent, EF, Lead EF and Director(s) to determine a different learning placement for the student, as outlined in the Master Agreement.

ALLOCATED FUNDS AND ORDERING

$2500 per student will be allotted to support the educational materials and services needed to help each student progress.   Allocated Funds depreciate daily from the first day of school, so the later in the year that you officially enroll, the lower the funds will be.

Yes.  However, students must show their EF that they have, or will have, enough materials and/or services in the core subject areas before enrichment classes will be approved.  Students must be current with samples and attendance logs for enrichment courses to be approved as well.

We want your children to have experiences that will help them progress and be well-rounded individuals contributing to society.  Art and music classes are very popular and help children in the area of spatial reasoning and math.  Chess, creative writing, technology, theater and makery techniques are also popular.

No.  These funds are allocated for student use, but they are still “school funds.”  Parent are involved in what the funds can be used for, within certain guidelines.  With the help of your EF, you will be able to make requests related to how you want to allocate those funds.  After your EF reviews your order, he/she will submit that to the Vendor Team for ordering.  All materials ordered are the property of the school (unless they are consumable) and if a student withdraws at anytime, materials will need to be returned to the EF immediately.

There are several vendors on our vendor list that you can select from.  The most popular is Rainbow Resource because they carry a huge variety of items.  Please remember to add approximately 20-25% to your materials order to cover any shipping, taxes and/or handling fees required by the company.  According to California State law, we must pay tax on out of state vendors – we ask that parents keep that in mind when ordering.

No, since funds are allocated by the state, all services and materials must be non-sectarian. It is very important that parents are sure the materials they order do not contain any faith-based content. Your EF can provide guidance in this area.

Materials are sent directly to the student.  A scan or photo of the packing list MUST be sent to the EF immediately. The EF must inform the school that the materials were received so that accounting can pay for the materials.  If a family does not consistently send a copy of a signed packing list to the EF, any subsequent orders will be sent to the EF for distribution.

If any item purchased by the school for instructional use is lost or broken by a student, the student must pay to replace the item.

The materials purchased with state instructional funds, are the property of the school.  The materials are loaned to the students while they are enrolled in the school and are for their use for educational purposes. Once the student withdraws, the materials must be returned within three (3) days, otherwise you will be billed and transcripts will be held.  Also, when materials are no longer being used by the student, the materials must be returned to the school via the EF.