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Get the Best Bang For Your Buck: Private vs Charter

In a previous post, we illustrated the difference between private schools, public schools, and charter schools. We have heard people ask, “Aren’t private and charter schools basically the same thing, only one is free and the other costs a lot of money?” Many people don’t understand the difference in value between the two. As a private school, we have the freedom to offer a unique education to your child, and that is worth the small price, and makes all the difference.

In breaking down the cost of 9 months of tuition at Arches Academy into 8 hour days, the cost is just $3.60 an hour for 6-9th graders, $3.38 an hour for PK-5th grade, and $1.99 an hour for part-time preschool students. This is much less than the cost of most schools in other states, and a tremendous deal for the value of education we provide.

Because we are a private school, we are not restricted by the same governmental regulations as public and charter that often lead to a “cookie cutter” approach to education. We are free to customize the academic experience to your needs!

Below are some of the unique things we provide at Arches Academy:

  • Strong, balanced curriculum - At Arches Academy, students don’t fit the programs—we carefully create our programs to best fit our students. We use the state core curriculum as a springboard, rather than a ceiling of what to accomplish in any given school year, and we teach well above and beyond minimum or mediocre, rigid standards. At Arches, student learning is not restricted or shaped by a standardized test; we never spend time “teaching to the test” as often happens in some schools. Rather, our assessment mechanisms zero-in on students’ current academic levels and give teachers valuable feedback to further individualize the design of learning experiences and ensure progress. Our Solid Core paired with rich elective offerings and targeted assessment delivers a balanced learning experience for well-rounded, well-educated graduates; students who are prepared for higher education and hold a lifelong thirst for learning.

  • Solid core - We have high expectations for students to develop and apply themselves in four core areas, and provide a strong support system for their success in these areas.

  • English Language

  • Mathematical Thinking and Problem Solving

  • Historical Awareness

  • Science Knowledge and Reasoning

  • We also employ a unique leveling approach to determine a student’s placement in core subjects rather than just their birth date alone. We believe every student has the right to learn at their own level, so we assess early to find out what students already know and what they are ready to learn next. During our morning core subject periods, students attend different math and language arts levels based on their assessed abilities.

  • As students engage our unique core curriculum, they develop critical thinking skills and demonstrate competencies in the key areas of listening, speaking, reading, writing, mathematical foundations, and computational thinking. Our teachers foster curiosity and a balanced intellectual appetite in each of these subject areas. Our success is evident in part by our test scores.

  • English and Balanced Literacy - Students in PK-5 learn to read, write, spell, speak, listen, and create through our Balanced Literacy program. Our literacy teachers truly love reading and carefully select books that will capture the attention of their students and inspire a genuine appreciation for great literature. Students learn through song, rhymes, reader’s theater, poetry, technology, class games, interactive centers, captivating read-alouds, and daily reading and writing instruction tailored to each student’s level. Students receive a high level of personalized support, enabling them to quickly progress to more advanced levels of reading and literacy development.

  • Middle School English Core and Communications classes provide the components necessary for students to become masters of written and oral communication. History, science, and current events are integrated into their reading and writing course work. Students are able to think deeply about literature themes in their book groups. Lively discussion and debate are a norm in our literature circles, where everyone participates and contributes to the conversation. Students create reports and other types of presentations to express their thoughts and knowledge of the topics they’ve engaged.

  • World Class Mathematics - The Founders of Arches knew that in order to create a world-class school, they needed the best math program in the world. As they examined over a decades’ worth of research with the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), one of the largest world-wide studies evaluating math programs, they found that Singapore consistently ranked highest across the grades. They looked deeper at the Singapore math curriculum, and discovered the secret to being ranked #1:

  • Singapore Math focuses on mastery, not memorization. Usually you can divide students into two groups: those who “get” math, and those who “don’t.” Singapore Math teaches visualization strategies that people who “get” math naturally possess, to the students who “don’t”, leveling the playing field and giving all students the tools to think like a mathematician. The sequence of topics in Singapore math has also been carefully constructed, based upon child development theory, to include a pictorial approach which is often missing in other programs. Students are able to solidify their understanding as they visualize and then draw math concepts as a representative picture.

  • History & Geography - History is not a dead, read-about-it-in-a-textbook kind of subject at Arches Academy. Rather, it comes alive for students as they re-enact a Civil War battle on the school green, transform their classroom into a native American village, create Viking helmets and shields, or set foot on actual sites upon which our forefathers walked. Students write historical fiction, keep a journal as a persona from a historical period, and portray their knowledge through wax museums or self-written plays. We use the Core Knowledge program to guide the curriculum for our history and geography classes, and teachers enrich the curriculum by integrating current events, global issues, fieldtrips, and literature and art from time periods and areas of the world for each unit in which their classes embark.

  • Science - Hands-on learning and understanding processes are keys to our strong Science curriculum. The Core Knowledge content is enhanced with live demonstrations, active student experiments, building of models, and field trips to intriguing educational landscapes such as the planetarium, aquarium, BYU Bean Museum, rock quarry, and more. Our science teachers are experts in their field and employ a variety of teaching methods, activities, and scientific materials to engage student attention, inspire curiosity, and increase their desire to ask questions and seek answers. Students learn the Scientific Method and apply each step as they participate in our annual Science Fair. The majority of our students become so jazzed about the sciences they opt to take the additional enrichment offerings in the areas of STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. Robotics, Advanced Technology, Math competitions, regional science fairs, Entrepreneurs, and 3-D printing are a few classes and options available for our aspiring young minds.

  • Experts in their Field - To accomplish this, teachers at Arches must truly be experts in their field. They are creative masters of the subject and know the academic terrain where they will guide student journeys. They also understand the dynamics of different learning environments and the operation of a school organization. Teachers stay abreast of emerging technologies and theories of development that can be instrumental in helping the specific students in their classes. They understand student social and character development and are committed to working with parents to nurture the whole child. At Arches every teacher either has a professional teaching degree or is on a path to that end. Several teachers have capitalized on their Arches experience to apply to or pursue graduate programs at top universities such as Georgetown and Harvard.

It is these kinds of teachers—teachers with real expertise and deep understanding, teachers that are free to adapt their methods to the needs of specific students, teachers that are incentivized to work as a team to create a comprehensive learning environment—that bridge a carefully crafted student body with uniquely constructed learning experiences. At Arches, teachers make the difference.

We can offer all of the above as a private school, free to create our programs within the guidelines of AdvandEd, a highly recognized accrediting agency. Charter schools don’t have this same opportunity; they are more similar to public schools than to private, in that they “operate under a written contract with a state, district, or other entity”. Charter schools are held under the same legal restrictions in their curriculum as public schools unless they are granted a waiver. A comparison chart of public, charter, and private schools can be found here.

What better start and experience could you give your child for just $3.60 an hour? There is all the difference in the world and we look forward to making that difference for your child.

To learn more about Arches Academy, subscribe to our blog here, download our eBook, or call 801-374-5480 to schedule a tour!

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