“The first thing that struck us was the flexibility. Teachers are willing to do whatever students need.”
The word I most often hear students, parents and faculty use to describe RPA is flexible. What does “flexible” mean?
Flexibility is a key aspect of RPA in many ways. It means designing the high school education in a student-centered way to serve each student's needs. It can be found through the classes we offer and the schedules students can create for themselves; through the ways we accommodate learning styles and the myriad ways students can demonstrate proficiency; through opportunities to create independent study projects or internships, and the ability to recognize jobs or volunteering with credit.
RPA students have the opportunity - and guidance - to participate in sports in their home district. RPA has student athletes representing nine schools throughout Central Oregon and they’ve competed in state competitions, OSET competitions and even competed as world-class and Olympic athletes.
Easy transportation is available for you through RPA's partnership with Cascades East Transit (CET). CET has hubs in every town in Central Oregon that run on regular schedules, making it easy to catch the bus and get to our campuses.
No! Students are expected to attend every class, every day.
However, RPA offers flexible schedules so our students can take advantage of outside learning experiences such as music classes, sports, part-time jobs, volunteering, and internships (and earn credit for these, if they choose). RPA students are not penalized when they need to miss class. It is part of their responsibility to manage their time. But we do emphasize that attending class is a necessary part of their learning process. In addition, we do ask students to respect their teachers expectations and to email or text their instructors if they are unable to attend class for any reason. Additionally, parents can always sign into their Alma account to check their student's attendance.
I’ve heard that RPA students have a lot of flexibility in creating their own projects and independent study programs. Is this true?
Yes. RPA recognizes that many students have interests, talents, and skills beyond what is offered in the master schedule. We also believe they perform better and demonstrate proficiency more quickly and at higher levels when they are engaged and excited about their learning opportunities.
How does RPA ensure that special projects or independent study programs contribute to learning the curricula?
Students interested in a special project or independent study work closely with a faculty advisor to design the study plan and define the educational outcomes and measurement tools. We’ve seen some amazing results when students’ creativity and commitment to a subject are given (almost) free reign.
At RPA, students can take as little or as much time as they need to achieve their own academic goals. Each student, having chosen a unique class schedule, moves forward based on the goal of mastering concepts. If students need more time, they arrange this with their instructor. If they have finished, they move on to new challenges. In addition, a student who feels they already know the material may test out of the class, earning an acceptable grade to get credit for the class. The proficiency model is very flexible.
At the beginning of each term, students work with their advisors to create their learning plan for the year and to ensure that it aligns with their graduation plan. Students will select classes that achieve their goals for the year and choose a time the course is offered from the master schedule. Once students have a draft schedule in place they will get a parent signature and attend arena scheduling to sign up for their desired courses.
At RPA, our students can be dually enrolled at RPA and COCC, earning college credit as well as their high school diploma. So, RPA offers Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes and Tuesday/Thursday classes to align with COCC’s schedules. This also helps to ready RPA students for the demands of managing time and priorities in the college environment.
My student has several times during the day when he/she isn’t scheduled to be in class. What are they supposed to do during those times?
Here’s a scenario to explain how this works. At RPA (as on a college campus), students may have a class on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8am, then another at 9am, then at 10am they might have a break until noon. Maybe they have another two classes at 12 pm and 1 pm. In between classes, students have opportunities to study, take an outside break, or tuck themselves away at a local coffee shop. They may grab a bite to eat, take a walk, or consult an instructor about a sticky point in class. Or maybe they go to Centennial Park to get some fresh air, or to the skate park to get some exercise.
Many students also have jobs, volunteer, or have internships during their “off time.” Not only does this help them understand the demands of the adult world, they can also earn credit for these real-life experiences.
Starting their freshman year, RPA teaches students to use their free time productively. Choice and consequences are important lessons learned early on, helping them build a foundation for a successful and balanced academic life in high school and beyond.