How is NGL Academy organized?
NGL Academy is a 501(c)3 organization founded by Joe Ricketts to operate a high school powered entirely by the innovative Opportunity Education Next Generation Learning Platform and Curriculum. Building from Opportunity Education’s decades-old experience in impactful education, NGL Academy will be governed by a Board of Directors with each location managed by a Director of School. The school will be supported financially by Joe Ricketts and through a no-cost license to use the Opportunity Education Next Generation Learning Platform and Curriculum.
Do the founders of NGL Academy have a track record of successfully operating high schools?
Opportunity Education has supported over 1,500 schools worldwide over the past 12 years. The founding school team for NGL Academy has over fifty years of experience working with schools across the U.S., including creating the Online High School at Stanford University, a fully accredited independent high school that has been ranked #3 in the United States among all private schools. So not only does the team have experience operating high schools, they have experience successfully realizing new visions for education.
Is NGL Academy an Online School? Is it a computer-based school? How is the technology used?
NGL Academy is a brick-and-mortar school with a distinctive approach to education that prioritizes students working independently and in small groups. Curricular units are organized in “quests” and student interaction with, and progression through, this curriculum is governed by a series of applications that provide a visual interface and playlist functionality. Student achievement is also tracked and displayed within this application. For more detailed information on the technology, see the NGL Platform website.
Will NGL Academy by a full high school? When will you add 10th, 11th, and 12th grades?
NGL Academy will be a full high school. As is common with the opening of new schools, the first year NGL Academy is open there will only be a ninth grade. Tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades will be added in the following years, one at a time, to ensure that students are able to remain at NGL Academy through the completion of their high school diplomas.
Does NGL Academy offer the same academic building blocks – e.g., Algebra, Biology, Chemistry, English, etc. – as traditional schools?
Yes. NGL Academy’s curriculum covers the concepts and skills that the standard high school curriculum covers. However, it does not take a silo approach in doing so. Whether one looks at the history of knowledge, or the application of knowledge in the world, one does not see a strict separation between the disciplines. This type of separation tends to happen only in academic institutions where, borrowing a phrase from the great 20th-century philosopher W.V.O. Quine, there is a tendency to confuse the compartments of the universe with the departments of the university. Students graduating from NGL Academy will have had the opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of the disciplines they have chosen to study and will be well prepared for success in college or career.
If my child completes four years of studies, will he/she receive a high school diploma and be eligible for college?
NGL Academy, like any other high school, awards a high school diploma to students who complete the graduation requirements. NGL Academy works with students from the moment they enter the academy to develop an individualized academic plan that makes clear the student’s goals and ambitions. This plan serves as a blueprint for what the student will study while in NGL Academy. While this plan will be periodically revised to reflect changes in goals, it plays an important role in keeping students focused on what needs to be accomplished to attain their long-term goals.
What assistance will NGL Academy provide to help my child apply to college or to secure a job after graduation or even during his/her time at NGL Academy?
NGL Academy maintains a standard counseling office that is equipped with both college admissions counselors and with vocational and professional services counselors who will ensure that students pursue an appropriate course of study to achieve their ultimate goals.
NGL Academy will work closely with colleges and employers to ensure that they are familiar with NGL Academy and with the quality of the education that the Academy provides. Part of the long-term vision for NGL Academy is that it would be common for students while still in high school to attain internships or apprenticeships as a way of allowing students to pursue their interests in a structured manner that still advances them through a project-based curriculum. Similarly, students who have completed the high-school level content in a subject area will be able to move into university-level course coursework while still in high school.
Are there letter grades at NGL Academy? If not, how will I know how my child is doing?
Students and parents in NGL Academy receive continual feedback throughout the year on how students are doing. These assessments are based on authentic student work and are evaluated by mentors using formal rubrics. Letter grades are optional at NGL Academy and students who wish to be evaluated on an A-F scale may elect to be so, though we advise doing this only when preparing to apply to institutions that are not yet ready to evaluate the more comprehensive and substantive NGL Academy transcript.
Will the Academy offer physical education classes?
The biology curriculum and the self-skills curriculum collectively contain the basic elements of health science that students need to know as part of being well-educated individuals. For physical education, each student will be required to enter into a physical education contract in which they account for how they have achieved 400 minutes of physical activity every 10 days. This can be from solo pursuits or organized sports. Specialized quests have also been developed as part of the self-skills curriculum to provide guidance to students who are otherwise unable to meet this requirement.
Will there be sports?
The Academy will not have its own organized sports teams. However, the schedule of the Academy will be such as to allow for students to play for club sports teams or other organized leagues.
Will there be art classes?
While students will have the opportunity to study the arts, and to experiment with creating art and engineering projects in the studio and the Makerspace, formal instruction in the arts will be within the context of the broader set of quests and journeys that students pursue. NGL Academy is an environment in which a student of an artistic bent will be able to freely pursue the arts across the curriculum and in greater depth in the later years of the Academy.
Does NGL Academy accept children with learning disabilities or learning differences and, if so, what provisions are there for their special needs?
NGL Academy has been designed for students who are able to be self-directed, self-managed learners when working in close proximity to mentors. The role of the instructor has been recast as “mentor” with a focus on providing guidance to students while they work through the material. Students who need extra support services in the context of a traditional school will likely need similar support services in NGL Academy. Students who require constant support and who find it difficult to stay focused on a task may find their needs better served by alternative models of instruction. On the other hand, because of the independent nature of lessons in NGL Academy, it is much easier for students to review material and repeat material as they need. For this reason, we encourage parents of students with learning difficulties or disabilities to make an individual appointment for consultation.
Can my child transfer from/to a public school or private school without losing academic progress?
Students in NGL Academy are always able to transfer from/to another school. We understand that circumstances arise that may cause a child to change schools in the middle of year and, for this reason, we have closely aligned NGL Academy curriculum with state and national standards so that a student coming to/leaving NGL Academy will be able to slot into courses at his or her new school without undue difficulty.