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Frequently Asked Questions

How much does this school cost?
NELA is a FREE public school. There is NO tuition.

How many students attend Northpoint?
Northpoint has about 175 in grades 9 through 12.

What if all spaces are filled?
Students will be placed on a lottery list. If spaces open, they will be filled by lottery on the first of each month.

Where can I get an application?
Applications are available online, or attend an info session, or in the Northpoint school office.

Is it true that ALL NELA students use laptop computers?
Yes, NELA has a 1-to-1 computer program, allowing all students to use a Macbook laptop or similar.

What are the class sizes?
There are between 15-25 students per class.

Where is the school located?
The school is located at 551 First Street, in the former Mata Dexter School facility, in close proximity to downtown Prescott.

How does this school differ from a traditional high school?
NELA is significantly smaller. NELA has a curriculum that connects the learning through the use of learning expeditions, which are deep investigations of interesting topics, based AZ State Standards. The 2006-07 compelling expeditions at NELA were focused on the issues of immigration and water. Learning is hands-on and active where the focus is on creating high quality projects. Students at Northpoint spend a significant amount of time off-campus doing research and outdoor activities. ALL NELA students will be fully prepared to be successful in college.

What percent of EL graduates go on to college?
The expectation is that 100% of the students apply and are accepted to a post-secondary school of their choice. Students will graduate fully prepared to excel in college. NELA is also creating a system that will support students while IN college as well, expecting that 75% of those that enter college will graduate within six years (compared to the national average of 31%).

How are students assessed in a way that is meaningful to colleges and scholarship providers?
Students are assessed using standards and learning targets which are translated into grades. Passage portfolios are also used to evaluate and measure growth along with serving as a prime method for sharing learning with colleges.

Do students receive grades that colleges understand?
Yes, students receive both an academic and character grade that reflects mastery of standards and learning targets and fulfillment of character norms.

What extracurricular activities are offered?
NELA places significant value on extra-curricular activities. For this reason, a variety of both sports and academic extra-curriculars are offered. In the 2006-07 school year, Northpoint students participated in an Intramural program that offers several sports including basketball, volleyball, GSA, soccer, and mountain biking. Also, Student Government, Yearbook/Publications, and Model United Nations were offered to the initial Northpoint student body.

Is the school calendar the same as surrounding districts and schools?
Yes, the calendar is similar, with coordinated breaks. There may be extended learning time added for additional opportunities.

Are classes taught in 50-minute class periods?
No, classes are taught using blocks of about 80 minutes in length.

Does NELA offer services for students with disabilities?
Yes, NELA is open to any student, regardless of disability, academic, or credit standing. The entrance interview provides clarity as to the expectations of NELA students and helps parents know if this is the best environment for their child.

Is lunch time a closed campus?

Does the school day start and end at the same time as surrounding districts and schools?
The start and end time is very similar to the surrounding districts and schools.

What evidence is there that this is an effective model?
Extensive research on the Expeditionary Learning model, along with small school success statistics, indicate that the model is very effective for all types of students.

Who are the teachers? What are their credentials? What qualifies them to teach in this kind of school?
All teachers at NELA are certified and obtain extensive training (supported with the Gates Foundation grant) before the school year begins. Also, NELA has a school designer that works closely with the staff, supporting the innovative work they are doing. For more information on the current staff, visit NELA's Faculty and Staff Bio Page.

Are there a lot of field trips? How do they work and how much do they cost?
Students at NELA do field WORK, which leads them off campus at various times. They also get a chance to participate in team building activities off campus. For example, all NELA freshmen participated in a 5-day wilderness experience at the beginning of the school year. A student activity fee is collected at the beginning of the year, helping to cover various off-campus opportunities. Tax credit donations are used to cover some of these costs. The fees should be discussed prior to enrollment.  All students have the opportunity to fundraise for costs of extra trips.

Where have other EL schools been started?
Currently, there are around 150 EL schools within the U.S.; ten of those schools are in Arizona, but only NELA has received the distinction of being a Gates supported High School. See the website for more info at

How do I know which high school is best for my child?
If you are looking for a school that is on the cutting edge within education, utilizing best practices that include hands-on activities, fieldwork outside the classroom walls, service, and adventure, then NELA could be a good fit. NELA is a college-prep school that utilizes small class sizes and a culture of collaboration.

Can anyone attend?
Yes, NELA is a free public school. An entrance interview will be completed with parents and the student after receiving the application.

Parent/teacher communication?
Consistent parent communication is a high priority for NELA.

Parent responsibilities? Family involvement?
Parents are asked to share any expertise that they and the school find appropriate. Parents are expected to serve on a variety of school committees during the course of their son/daughter's HS experience. Parents are expected to attend all student-led conferences.

Does Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy meet state standards and employ AIMS testing?
Yes, all learning expeditions begin with the state standards which are infused throughout the HS experience. NELA abides by all state and national mandates that pertain to public schools.

How is EL different from Outward Bound?
Outward Bound is an adventure wilderness organization that works with youth on 7-28 day intensive experiences. Expeditionary Learning uses some of the O.B. design principles but is dedicated to creating rigorous schools that prepare students for post-secondary education and experience successful relationships.

How is service incorporated into NELA?
All students are expected to fulfill a service requirement. Often, service opportunities are embedded within learning expeditions and the daily schedule.

Is Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy NCA accredited?
Yes, Northpoint was accredited in 08-09 and renewed in 13-14 (see for more info).

Is it easy to transfer back and forth between PHS and Northpoint?
Because NELA will be NCA accredited, all credits earned at Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy would transfer to other high schools and middle schools and vice versa. Student progress is evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine justifiable credit. Transferring to other high schools and middle schools will not be a problem, but students can only transfer to NELA if there is room.

Images of Northpoint

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Northpoint  Academy | 551 First Street | Prescott, Arizona 86301
928-717-3272 | Fax 928-541-2294 | Charles Mentken, Director