Academics Lower School Middle School
At DNA Prep Academy, we have adopted a student-centered theory of learning where students are active participants in the learning process. This means that our goal is to help each student experience meaningful opportunities to realize their fullest potential and ultimately motivate them to become life-long learners of knowledge.
Textbooks are tools for teachers and guides for students to facilitate instruction. In addition to textbooks, we use supplemental resources to enrich the curriculum which involve students in problem-solving activities, higher-level thinking questions, and extended activities.
Utilizing the methodologies and frameworks of experiential and project-based learning our curriculum is interdisciplinary and empowers students to apply knowledge of core content within and across curriculum areas. When students see the connections between individual subject areas, the material becomes more relevant. When these kinds of connections are part of planned instruction for a lesson or a unit, they are called cross-curricular, or interdisciplinary, instruction.
Examples of cross-curricular or interdisciplinary teaching can be found in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning and the more recently coined STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) learning. Other examples are cross-curricular investigations and assignments that include the humanities (such as English/Language Arts, social studies, and arts).
How does DNA Prep Academy measure student learning?
Students are assessed based on mastery and competence of a skill(s) or set of knowledge as articulated the CA State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards.
At the start of enrollment, students are assessed to establish a baseline for their current level of academic performance and set student goals. To monitor student growth and progress, students are also assessed quarterly so that teachers can adjust instruction as needed, and so that we are responsive to with student support.
We provide students with Individualized attention to build upon our curriculum. This helps in closing any learning gaps and increases motivation while expanding on the student’s strengths and confidence. In the future, this individualized attention will help students determine their career goals and post-secondary plans. This process starts in elementary grades 1-5 with an assessment of a student’s strengths and weaknesses, along with a determination on how to build a strong academic foundation for future success. This is followed up at the middle grades with a more comprehensive plan, which develops and incorporates the long-term goals of a student.
At DNA Academy, we have smaller class sizes. Our classroom size is designed for a 24-student maximum, with a student-teacher ratio of 12:1 to facilitate small group instruction. These smaller classrooms help our teachers provide a more effective education for their students. More benefits of smaller class sizes include:
- Students learn faster
- Students receive more attention
- Students receive more feedback
- Students receive more hands-on learning
- Students perform better on all subjects
Research shows that students do well in smaller class settings. This also gives them a chance to get to know their fellow classmates better. They benefit from their classmates’ comments and each student’s contribution is acknowledged among the group. Students learn from one another based upon the contributions they make during class, while also building their social skills.
DNA Prep Academy in its efforts to prepare students for a lifetime of learning, strives to balance the time a student spends in the digital and non-digital realms, prioritizing the unmatched value of in-person, face-to-face interactions with peers, teachers, and parents. Its use of technology complements these efforts by helping students to become thoughtful, knowledgeable, empathetic, and critical users of technology to achieve their larger educational goals.
We offer synchronous and asynchronous learning using a hybrid technology to facilitate student engagement and access. For our students who have to miss school due to extra-curricular activities, auditions, or illness, this flexibility will facilitate a live connection to the classroom while simultaneously allowing for travel and experiences that otherwise would not be possible within the confinement of a traditional school model.