Central Academy's School Profile
Central Academy opened in 1991 as a school of choice to parents and students in the Middletown City School District. Today, Central Academy Non-graded houses approximately 350 students ages 5 to 12 in grades K-6. The educational program at Central is based on the philosophy of multiage, non-graded education. With the exception of kindergarten, students are grouped by two and three-year-age clusters and move through the curriculum at their own individual pace.
The multiage, non-graded concept is based on research which shows students can progress at their own pace and are not bound by grade level restrictions. This philosophy also decreases the amount of competition between students and lets each student succeed at his/her own level. Students are grouped in classrooms according to age bands: after kindergarten, 6-8 year olds, 8-10 year olds, 10-12 year olds. This variety of groupings allows students to be placed where they will perform to the best of their ability. Curriculum is taught through Project-Based Learning. The same curriculum is followed as the rest of the district, but in a different manner. The skills are covered through hands-on learning, literature-based reading, developmentally appropriate activities, cooperative learning activities, journal writing, individual conferences and direct instruction. Skills and curriculum are assessed through authentic formative and summative assessments, including teacher observation, conferencing, rubrics, performance presentations, products, quizzes, and tests. Reporting to parents is done through the use of narratives rather than grade cards, and three to four required family conferences held throughout the year.
Shared leadership has always been valued at Central. The staff collaborates to make many decisions about building procedures, concerns, teaching strategies, staff development needs, building goals, and meeting individual student needs.
Parental involvement is a major factor in our success. Parents participate in three/four conferences a year in which goals are set for each individual student and narrative reports are given explaining their progress. The parent organization – TEAM, (Together Everyone Achieves More,) provides input into school issues, and coordinates volunteers for the classrooms. Volunteers help with classroom learning activities, as well as with teacher support. Volunteers help throughout the year on special projects such as field day, book fair, and family nights. TEAM also plans and manages fund-raisers in order to provide classroom materials, assemblies, and field trips.
From the youngest student forward, all students are asked to consider how they fit into the learning community, what they have to contribute, what their responsibilities are to each other, and how they can help others. As students grow older, that thinking reaches outward to consider the same questions about themselves and the school as a whole, the Middletown community, and the world. We seek to give students experience and critical thinking skills needed for being an active participant in a democracy. Applications to attend Central are open to all Middletown families, and students are accepted on a first-come first- served basis depending on availability of space. Students from other districts are eligible to apply through open enrollment.
Central continues to be a nationally recognized school. Visitors from many different states and countries have come to observe our multiage, non-graded school in action. Many of our staff members have been resource people for other schools, presenting at conferences and helping others to better understand progressive education.