Academics

Overview:

Compass offers a dynamic college preparatory program with an array of accommodations and modifications tailored to each student to ensure mastery of challenging content. We use many excellent research-based instructional programs for students with learning differences that incorporate multisensory instruction into their designs. We offer a team approach in which teachers, speech and language specialists, and occupational, and psycho-therapists collaborate on an integrated, individualized program.

Organizational strategies and school routines are consistently implemented to ensure that Academics students practice and master essential skills. Our homework policies and support build independence and self-advocacy skills. Student’s educational experiences are enriched through experiential, hands-on activities, including vibrant arts and athletic programs.

Priority Admission
Deadline, Feb. 1

College Preparatory Academic Curriculum
For students interested in continuing their education at two- or four-year colleges or universities upon graduation, Compass offers coursework that meets the “a-g requirements” necessary for entrance into the University of California (U.C.) and California State University (CSU). The College Preparatory Curriculum provides students with a rigorous course of study in a supportive environment.  Our small class size and multisensory instruction enable students to master advanced content, and achieve success with our flexible approach to grading, testing, and homework. For students in need of additional challenge in their areas of strength, we individualize instruction to offer students challenging assignments, honors options, and dual enrollment in college courses with teacher support.
Essential Skills Program (ESP)
Our Essential Skills Program (ESP) is a distinctive program that provides research-based, targeted support for the development of skills in reading (decoding, fluency, and comprehension), composition, study skills, social skills, and transition to higher education and work. Each course pairs respected instructional programs (like Slingerland, Visualizing and Verbalizing, Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking, Step up to Writing, and the SMARTS curriculum for executive functioning) with cutting-edge assistive technology tools. The ESP courses are comparable to educational therapy and counseling support but in a small group setting and for over four hours per week and they are included in our tuition. This combination of expert instructors, research-based curriculum, and significant time, results in impressive growth in literacy, executive function, and independence.

These five intensive courses are offered as electives, and each Compass student must take at least two of the Essential Skills courses to graduate.

Experiential Learning
One core component of the Compass program is our dedication to experiential learning. We believe that students need to learn by doing, moving, interacting, and being creative. We avoid a lecture and textbook-based approach in favor of Socratic Seminars, interactive lessons using our Smartboards, art activities, experiments, field trips, and role play, among many other examples Students can teach a class, design a product, take on a leadership activity, or get involved in a community-based organization or project in order to apply their learning.

At Compass, we dedicate three weeks per year at the end of each quarter to engage in more intensive hands-on, community-based experiences. The overarching goals of our trips during these Intersession weeks are to push students to try new things, to get them out of their comfort zones, to provide team building experiences that will nurture closer

relationships and support between students and with their teachers, to work on life skills and independence, to do community service, and to learn in the outdoors and in in our local community.

Every day students hit the road to see the world they have opportunities to get creative, to get dirty, and to have thrilling adventures. Here are the highlights of previous Intersession Programs:

  • A historically focused trip on local war memorials and artifacts
  • A teambuilding ropes course looking out on the beautiful pacific ocean
  • A whale watching trip in Monterey focused on local marine biology
  • An environmental-science trip to explore the ecosystems of Costa Rica
Electives
Elective courses at Compass offer engaging, structured, and challenging opportunities for students to become skilled while pursuing various interests. Clustered in three areas (the arts, physical education/health, and technology), our elective courses do not require any background knowledge or previous experience. Students’ preferences are regularly surveyed to determine elective offerings.

Homework
At Compass, we recognize that students who learn differently often experience intense struggles with homework for a variety of reasons. Weaknesses in executive functioning (planning, initiating, organizing of time and materials, etc.) and academic skills have often contributed to difficulties with homework. By the time they reach high school, many students lack the motivation and confidence to complete homework consistently.

Our homework philosophy is to provide a supportive, structured and manageable homework load. We ensure that students have recorded their assignments and due dates, and have made a plan for completing the work. We offer an online reference for homework. We assign roughly half the homework that is typical in high schools, about one to one-and- a-half hours per night.

We also provide a quiet place where students can work on homework with assistance. This is the Homework Center. The Homework Center is open from 3:30pm to 5:30pm every day. Cost is $12/hour, calculated on a quarterly basis. Please contact us for additional details.

Accommodations and Modifications
We are always seeking the sweet spot of learning, that place where students are challenged and stimulated but not frustrated and overwhelmed. Accommodations are variations in the way content is taught without changing the academic standards. We offer students many accommodations and we don’t insist that students ask for them.

We promote self-advocacy and a growing awareness of what strategies and accommodations work best for each student. For students in need of additional support, accommodations

may include: extra time, space to work alone, alternative tests, readers, scribes, supportive notes, texts written at a lower reading level, many supports for time and assignments management, assistive technology, checks for understanding, as well as alternative assignments.

Modifications are changes to the content that significantly simplify instruction. Some students require alternative curriculum, problem sets, tests or courses that do not satisfy college entry requirements. With our robust accommodations, modifications are often not necessary. When we think a student requires a modified curriculum, we confer with the family to make the decision together.

Accreditation and Certification
Compass is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

Phone:  +1 (650) 720-4248
Fax: (888) 239-3542
Email: admissions@compasshigh.org