Frequently Asked Questions
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WHAT IS CITIZENS OF THE WORLD (CWC)?Citizens of the World is a public charter school that seeks to provide a socio-economically, culturally, racially and linguistically diverse community of students with an intellectually challenging, experiential learning environment that develops each individual student’s confidence, potential and responsibility as citizens of the world in which we live. There are two other CWC campuses in Los Angeles: Hollywood and Silver Lake. CWC Mar Vista is made up of a network of families who embrace the diversity of Los Angeles and want their children to attend an inclusive, dynamic school that values the culture, language and innate abilities that all children possess. We believe that public schools can and should play a unifying role in the community, particularly by bringing together people from different backgrounds with the same goal providing a high quality of education for each and every student
WHERE IS CWC MAR VISTA LOCATED?
HOW CAN MY CHILD APPLY TO CWC MAR VISTA?Applications typically open in December and close in mid-February, with the lottery held in March. Tours will be made available throughout the year. You can also contact our Community Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org, with questions about the application process. View more information here.
WHO CAN ATTEND CWC MAR VISTA?Currently, any California student who will be eligible to enroll in grades TK-7 in Fall 2018 can enter the lottery to attend CWC Mar Vista. Each year CWC Mar Vista will add another grade until it reaches Grade 8. Because CWC Mar Vista aims to build a school community that reflects the rich diversity of Los Angeles, it hopes to draw students from a variety of racial, cultural, economic and linguistic backgrounds. In addition to building on the strengths and addressing the needs of students from diverse backgrounds — including those who are not yet fully proficient in English — CWC Mar Vista is committed to serving students with special learning needs and/or (dis)abilities.
DOES CWC COST ANYTHING?CWC is a free, public school. Just like any other public school in California, CWC students who qualify are eligible to receive free or reduced-priced breakfast and lunch. Qualifying students will also be able to attend CWC’s after - school program at a reduced or no cost.
WHAT ROLE DOES FUNDRAISING PLAY?Although fundraising will be critical to keeping CWC afloat, parents are not required to make financial contributions to the school.
HOW AFFECTED ARE CHARTERS BY BUDGET CRISES?CWC has freedom to hire its own staff, from the principal to the teachers’ aides, which provides some budget flexibility. We will always be very careful to plan around budget constraints and ensure we do enough private fundraising to meet our needs.
ARE OUR TEACHERS MULTILINGUAL?It is a hiring priority to have teachers be multilingual. In order to foster the feeling of community inside and out, we actively search for staff who speak Spanish and other languages.
HOW DOES CWC ACCOMMODATE WORKING PARENTS AND THEIR SCHEDULES?CWC acknowledges that families are students’ first teachers and believes that all students bring valuable knowledge, experiences and resources for learning with them to school. Thus, CWC works hard to ensure that all families feel welcome at school. Opportunities for parent engagement take place at various times and with different emphases so that each parent can participate. Childcare is provided whenever possible. In addition, CWC offers a high quality, and flexible before- and after-school program that is available to all students.
ARE PARENTS REQUIRED TO VOLUNTEER?Parents cannot be required to volunteer, but we will strongly encourage all parents to volunteer. There are many ways to participate: in the classrooms, the school office, planning events, even working on school-related tasks at home. We want our children to see how much their families value their school and are willing to put in their own efforts to making it a success.
WHAT ARE CWC’S VALUES AND HOW DO THESE VALUES SHAPE INSTRUCTION?CWC believes that children learn best when they are members of a diverse community of learners. CWC also believes that all students can achieve at high levels, particularly when they have opportunities to participate in learning experiences that are engaging, responsive to them as individuals, and relevant to their lives. All CWC teachers use constructivist instructional strategies, such as project-based learning and hands-on approaches that promote problem solving, critical inquiry, and creative thinking for all students.
WHAT IS CONSTRUCTIVISM AND HOW DOES IT BENEFIT STUDENTS?
Constructivism is a learning theory based on the idea that new knowledge is “constructed” on top of learners’ existing knowledge. According to the theory, students are not “empty vessels” that need to be “filled.” Rather, students’ existing knowledge serves as an important foundation for new learning. This approach to teaching and learning requires that teachers take the time to get to know students in depth, and to integrate what they learn about students into their instruction. In other words, a constructivist classroom is a student-centered classroom.
A constructivist approach to teaching benefits everyone, but it is particularly valuable when it comes to facilitating the learning of students from diverse backgrounds. This is true for several reasons:
- First, one-size-fits-all approaches to teaching—and especially the rigid use of pre-packaged curriculum—tend to either overlook or demean the unique resources that students from non-mainstream backgrounds bring to school. While it is important for all students to master “official” school knowledge, this should never occur at the expense of students maintaining what they already know. A Constructivist approach encourages teachers to value and build upon all students’ existing knowledge, even if that knowledge seems different from the formal curriculum.
- Second, when students are recognized as possessing important knowledge, they are more likely to feel motivated, connected and confident. This positions them to engage in successful learning.
- Third, a constructivist approach does not assume that there is one “normal” way to learn or that “accommodations” need to be made for students who can’t keep up. Instead, the assumption from the outset is that each student learns in his or her own way. Therefore, instruction must be sufficiently open ended to support all backgrounds and learning styles. Thus, constructivist teachers often use project-based and hands-on approaches, allowing students to work at their own pace, to draw on their prior knowledge and to make meaning on their own terms as they learn.
- Fourth, a constructivist approach supports equitable and fair treatment of all students. Because instruction must build upon what students know, it must also begin with and remain centered on students.
- Finally, constructivism supports collaborative learning—students working with and learning from one another—and the development of a strong learning community.
DOES CWC’S CURRICULUM PREPARE STUDENTS FOR STANDARDIZED TESTS?
Our curriculum is based on the best thinking in education today about how children learn. We do not believe that one single strategy works with all children. Rather, we believe that education, in order to be successful, must take a truly child-centered approach and focus on each individual child’s needs and abilities. While one child may learn to read using a phonics-based approach, another may rely more on context and sight words. One child might see a math problem in her head while another needs to manually decipher the problem with objects or fingers. We do not believe that there is any right or wrong way. Rather, we want each child to understand how he or she processes information and learn how to employ those techniques to develop a true passion for learning.
While CWC will not “teach to the test,” all of our students will learn the necessary skills needed to succeed on state standardized tests. Most importantly, our school leaders will be constantly evaluating data derived from weekly, monthly and quarterly assessments - formal and informal — about students’ performance. They will look at individual students, sub-groups (e.g., special education, gifted and talented, English learners), and classrooms to see how each is doing in relation to both state and national standards, and our school’s broader goals. Teachers will refine curriculum continuously to meet individual and group needs, and the principal will ensure that each teacher has the skills and support he or she needs to help each child reach his/her full potential.
HOW DO WE KNOW THAT CWC MAR VISTA IS A GOOD SCHOOL?While achievement disparity is fairly common in diverse schools (which tend to generate good outcomes for some students and poor outcomes for others), standardized test scores as well as assessments that more accurately capture student learning indicate that a larger percentile of students at CWC Hollywood — the first CWC school, now in its sixth year — is achieving at high levels, compared to other schools with similar student populations. CWC Hollywood’s model, which includes small class sizes, multiple highly-qualified educators in each classroom, an emphasis on small group and individualized instruction, and the kinds of conditions that support teachers to do professional, high-quality work, has been implemented at the Silver Lake location and at the Mar Vista location, as well.
WHY SHOULD I CONSIDER CWC FOR MY CHILD?
CWC has a clear instructional vision, and because it is not affiliated with a school district, it has the flexibility to enact this vision. First and foremost, CWC believes in making instruction responsive to all students. Rather than relying on rigid, pre-packaged curriculum that can limit teachers’ freedom to make instruction accessible to everyone, CWC teachers collaboratively develop curriculum that allows them to address student’s social and academic needs. All CWC students also participate in art, music and physical education programs that are taught by specialists.
Because CWC has discretion over its budget, it is able to prioritize placing more than one adult in classrooms. Sometimes this takes the form of two teachers, while in other cases teachers work with highly qualified teaching assistants. Thus, CWC students have greater access to small group and individualized instruction. In addition, there is a 24-student limit in CWC classrooms.
CWC is especially committed to diversity and multiculturalism. This is evident in the content of CWC’s curriculum and in the instructional approaches that are used. As a result, CWC students have the powerful experience of observing everyone’s capacity to learn and all families’ uniquely important contributions to that learning. Students learn that an integrated learning community is essential and that everyone has an important role to play.
WHAT IS TK AND DOES CWC MAR VISTA HAVE IT?A TK or transitional kindergarten is the first year of a two-year kindergarten program that ensures the kindergarten curriculum is age and developmentally appropriate.
- Students are only eligible for TK if they will have their 5th birthday between September 2nd and December 2nd 2018 (inclusive)
- These students will be in a separate TK class and will not be in a mixed class with K students.
The TK program will be a social constructivist program that is more developmentally appropriate to an early childhood setting. The children will carry out short term and long term projects that will be based on an adapted K curriculum. There will be a strong emphasis on social and emotional skills and preparation of readiness for the K program, including peer collaboration.
The TK students will also participate in art, music and P.E.
The TK schedule will be 9:00 am to 2:30 pm with early dismissal at 12:30 pm on Wednesdays only.
DOES CWC MAR VISTA SERVE CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS OR AN IEP?
Yes. CWC Mar Vista is open to all students in the State of California, and CWC Mar Vista is committed to serving students with diverse learning styles and needs. Parents/guardians, teachers, and the students themselves work together to develop a plan for academic and social success. CWC’s model provides highly differentiated and personalized instruction. This approach is of particular benefit to children with special needs. Students with special needs are integrated into the mainstream classroom. CWC Mar Vista pulls students out for services or “push in” to assist students within their general education classes by collaborating and/or co‐teaching with the classroom teachers.
CWC Mar Vista provides special education services through credentialed individuals from professional agencies including speech and language therapy, adapted physical education, occupational therapy, resource and counseling. If, for example, a student is entitled to 2 hours per week of Occupational Therapy (OT), CWC will contract with a highly qualified Occupational Therapist to come to the school to provide the therapy. CWC Mar Vista will make sure that the OT knows about the unique character and mission of the school, how it works, and how to most effectively work within it.
To date students with IEPs at CWC Mar Vista are making great progress academically and socially.
WHAT ARE THE SCHOOL HOURS FOR CWC MAR VISTA 2018-2019 SCHOOL YEAR?Please see our Bell Schedule HERE