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Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy presents a full spectrum of high school courses through challenging hands-on projects known as learning expeditions. Students engage in intensive studies utilizing a compelling topic or theme, such as water quality, the civil rights movement or the industrial revolution. Teachers collaborate to design learning expeditions that align with Arizona Standards, emphasizing high achievement through active learning, character growth and teamwork.
This innovative and research-based approach to teaching and learning has been shown to motivate students to learn more in depth, work harder and accomplish more than they thought they could do.
What is Expeditionary Learning?
Expeditionary learning involves rigorous academic work centered on compelling topics that are both interesting and relevant to high school students. At different times, subjects are taught together; for example, math and science might focus on a common topic and work together. Teachers help set up fieldwork experiences, taking students off campus to gain rich knowledge that can be applied to the learning expedition. Not only do teachers work together to create a culture of teamwork, but students are fully immersed into the concept of Crew - meaning that none of us are passengers - building community is of the highest priority!
In our schools...
learning is Active. Students are scientists, urban planners, historians, and activists. They investigate real community problems and collaborate with peers to develop creative, actionable solutions.
learning is challenging. Students at all levels are pushed and supported to do more than they think they can. Excellence is expected in the quality of their work and thinking.
learning is meaningful. Students apply their skills and knowledge to real-world issues and make positive change in their communities. They see the relevance of their learning and are motivated by understanding that learning has purpose.
learning is public. Through formal structures of presentation, exhibition, critique, and data analysis, students and teachers build a shared vision of pathways to achievement.
learning is collaborative. School leaders, teachers, students, and families share rigorous expectations for quality work, achievement, and behavior. Trust, respect, responsibility, and joy in learning permeate the school culture.
What is the difference between a theme and an expedition?
(Click to view PDF)
What you can expect at an Expeditionary Learning school:
A positive school culture
Our schools are safe and respectful learning environments. The motto “we are crew, not passengers” guides our schools as they build cultures of respect, responsibility, courage, and kindness — where students and educators are committed to quality work and citizenship. Students take responsibility for each other and for their learning and build leadership skills that help them excel.
A great teacher in every classroom
We work closely with schools to provide the training and resources necessary to provide every student with a great teacher. Our teachers are trained to tailor instruction to help a diverse range of learners achieve. Research shows that our teachers are closing critical achievement gaps for English language learners and for Hispanic, African-American and low-income students.
Learning with a purpose
Our students are highly engaged learners, motivated to master academic content and produce high quality work. Their learning expeditions — which may
result in original scientific reports, presentations to government officials, or urban renewal projects — contribute beyond the classroom. Learning with a purpose helps students develop the academic skills and work ethic that prepare them for college and beyond.
High expectations for all students
Our students are outperforming state and district averages on standardized tests and, in our high schools, 100% college acceptance is the standard. Our college-bound students learn inquiry skills, research skills, and habits of scholarship that motivate them to work independently, think critically about the world around them, and persist with their work until it is of high quality.
To learn more about Expeditionary Learning and it's impact on student achievement, click to watch the EL video
The success of Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy (NELA) is easily seen, heard, and felt. After graduating its first group of seniors in May of 2010 and 100% college acceptance rate, the Prescott, AZ school has developed a reputation of solid academics that infuses engaging learning where students are gaining knowledge both within and beyond the classroom walls. Students are performing and parents are very satisfied as evidenced within recent surveys where 96% of parents give the school an “A” or “B” rating.
To hear more from what students say about their Northpoint experience check out:
Now in it’s fifth year of existence, NELA has transitioned from a high school within the Prescott Unified School District to an independent charter school; a move that will allow more flexibility and autonomy. NELA families have accepted this transition with excitement evidenced by the highest enrollment at the school in five years. Because of the high quality charter application and the NCA accreditation the school has already received, NELA was awarded the highest federal start-up grant possible for new charter schools, now given through the state of Arizona---
This grant, along with strong local support, will help Northpoint continue to offer its established high quality programming. This includes laptops for every student and a week-long wilderness experience which helps kick-off the school year and establish the strong culture that supports academic rigor within a safe and nurturing environment. There are many areas to highlight where NELA shines as a model example of both an Expeditionary Learning high school and a high school of the future. One example would be the high quality digital portfolios that all Northpoint students construct. Using their laptops, students store evidence of academic achievement and growth and then share their portfolios with a panel of community members at the end of their 10th and 12th grade school years. Students must present their portfolio with excellence in order to move on to the next grade or graduate. Also, students at NELA get to participate in Intensives (held at the end of each semester), which are two-week classes that focus on an “elective” subject area. Students are traveling all over the state, the country and abroad bringing their learning back to the Prescott Community. In the last four years, NELA teachers have taken students to South Africa, Mexico, Germany, and Cambodia. To learn more about Northpoint’s intensives check out:
Besides the culture building, quality work, and phenomenal experiences NELA students are having, they are also scoring very well on a variety of academic measures. In 2009-10 the Northpoint seniors scored 12% higher on the ACT (college readiness test) than the national average. On statewide tests, the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards, NELA had 90% of their students scoring in the “Meets” or “Exceeds” level for Language Arts—significantly better than district and state counterparts.
NELA has become an Expeditionary Learning mentor school within the EL network, implementing the EL model with fidelity proving that academic achievement and character development can and should be a part of the high school experience.
"I would have never been able to survive at a traditional high school. If Northpoint was not here, I do not know where I would be."
"Hands on learning means being able to get an in depth experience of what you are learning by going out into the field, instead of sitting in a classroom."
"Sunlight or fluorescent light?"