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Saturday, February 05, 2011

NOVA Exhibition Night

The NOVA Project invites you to...

Exhibition Night

Tuesday, February 15, 6-8pm

Exhibition Night is The NOVA Project's annual open house for prospective students.

Students will be leading tours throughout the evening and students, parents and teachers will be available to answer questions about the school. Teachers will have activities in their rooms, including ceramics, science projects, silkscreening and poetry readings.

Find the event flier and more details at the NOVA PTSA website.
http://novaproject.my-ptsa.org/

The NOVA Project is one of the District's three option high schools and one of the District's three Alternative Learning Experience programs. Located in the Meany building on Capitol Hill, NOVA is open to students from all parts of the district. This public high school offers innovative challenging coursework, alternative pedogogy, project-based instruction, arts, in a close, welcoming community. All kinds of students find themselves at home at NOVA.

Don't let the relaxed atmosphere make you think that NOVA is slack. The students call the teachers by their first names, but hold them in great respect. NOVA does not use grades, but students must master the Standards to earn full credit for a course. "D" and "C" work will earn full credit at another school, but not at NOVA. NOVA classes are determined democratically at the beginning of each semester, and the classes don't have the same names as the traditional courses, but NOVA students need to meet the graduation requirements to earn their diploma. NOVA boasts some of the highest average SAT scores in the District, year after year. Every year NOVA students are accepted at competitive colleges all across the country. NOVA students can make their own path, and the school will support them every step of the way.

If you have a student finishing middle school and about to enter high school, you absolutely owe it to your child to visit and explore NOVA.

If your child isn't finding satisfaction with the traditional high school experience, you absolutely owe it to your child to visit and explore NOVA as a possible transfer.

Disclosure: my daughter has been at NOVA for all three years of high school. She absolutely loves it and has been extremely successful there.

24 comments:

ParentofThree said...

I have a question about NOVA. I have heard they don't have grades. When it comes time for college how does that work in terms of the students transcript and GPA?

Charlie Mas said...

It is true. NOVA does not use grades. However colleges are used to this and prepared for it. It isn't an issue.

Charlie Mas said...

I am surprised by the number of folks who don't even know about NOVA. I am not surprised, however, by the number of people who think that NOVA is just for the odd, the emo, budding rock stars, fashion designers, and comic stip artists, the tragically hip or sexual minorities. NOVA has its share of all types of students, including those who would not stand out at a traditional school, some just catch the eye more than others.

I remember going to Exhibition Night at NOVA in the Mann building before my daughter enrolled. Sure, at first I saw the flamoyant students and the ones with more color in their hair than their wardrobe. But when I went into a math teacher's room I found quiet kids rolling multi-sided dice and playing an RPG. In a language arts teacher's room I found quiet students talking about great books and how their writing had developed under the teacher's guidance.

All of these students are members of a single community that embraces all of its members.

NOVA is totally democratic. It is operated by the community. There are governing committees that make the decisions about the school's budget, hiring, and day to day administration. Membership to the committees is open. The one rule is that the majority of votes in any committee must be cast by students. The community decides what classes to offer each semester and let me tell you, each semester when the class schedule is written, I hear the names of the classes and I want to take them all.

ParentofThree said...

Can you elaborate on how colleges are prepared for this? I really don't understand how this works, you seem to be saying every college in the country knows about NOVA and they have no problem evaluating a transcript with no grades or GPA. What does the student submit to the schools?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I can't say how Nova does it but I would suspect the counselors write a letter of explanation (Nova is not the only high school in the country like this). I do know that Nova students have some of the best SAT scores for our high schools.

Sahila said...

many top colleges dont need SAT scores for admission

Charlie Mas said...

As Mel wrote, NOVA isn't the only high school in the country that doesn't use grades. There is surprising variation in grading among districts and schools. For college admission offices this is their business and they know their business.

hschinske said...

It's essentially the same way they look at homeschooled applicants, really. If you're interested in going to Nova but want to be considered for competitive colleges, it would make sense to take a lot of standardized subject tests and the like. If you ace the College Board's math test, they won't care whether your math courses were called things like Circular Reasoning (I'm making that one up ... I think). It would also be possible for a self-directed student to put together a really impressive portfolio given the resources at Nova.

I do not, however, believe that their high average SAT scores mean much of anything at all, as I've posted many times. As far as I can see, that figure basically means that Nova doesn't attract very many students who are likely to score really, really low. The whole concept of an "average" SAT score for a school is just not a very meaningful figure anyway.

Helen Schinske

seattle citizen said...

The Evergreen State College, which also doesn't use grades, will convert the narrative evaluation transcripts into "grades" for grad schools, if this is necessary. But as has been noted here, savvy colleges are looking at the whole package, are used to variety in grading, and, frankly, probably learn more by reading narrative evaluations than by a G.P.A. or astring of letter grades. They can do this, now, because narrative transcripts are few and far between, but if all schools adopted this style it would be a time-consuming effort, indeed.
So those students lucky enough to have narrative transcripts instead of grades a) have their academic careers described much more accurately; and b) avoid the seemingly inevitable competition inherent in a the grade point acverage system.

NOVA, I beleive, offers a transcript much like Evergreen, in which a student writes about a page per quarter describing the successes and failures of their efforts in the program, the professor does the same, the two confab over these for a half hour or so, rewrite, and submit. The official trnascript, then, runs to 12x2= 24 pages or so about what the student has done (or not, gulp!)in four years.

hschinske said...

NOVA, I beleive, offers a transcript much like Evergreen, in which a student writes about a page per quarter describing the successes and failures of their efforts in the program, the professor does the same, the two confab over these for a half hour or so, rewrite, and submit.

My daughter says she's never heard of such a transcript, certainly has never contributed to one, and the transcripts I've seen at meetings with her coordinators have been plain computer printouts with lists of courses and credits.

Helen Schinske

owlhouse said...

ParentofThree-
Many colleges and universities, state and private, are familiar with/understanding of non-traditional hs models. They rely on student essays, letters of recommendation, student portfolios, and standardized test scores (SAT/ACT) in determining student eligibility. In most cases, the application process does not require much extra hoop jumping for students w/o a GPA.

While Nova classes are different in name and content, students keep an internal record of how their courses translate to the more traditional hs offerings. They have to do so to ensure they are meeting SPS graduation and college entrance
requirements. For example, the content of my student's Fresh Folks class may be equivalent to .25 LA 9a and and .5 Health.

Finally, while there are no grades at Nova, credit is awarded only for "B level" work. That said, students may earn partial credit if some, but not all work is complete/satisfactory. I believe this is an internal process as well, with partial credit "held" until it meets the proper fraction for an official transcript.

Seattle Citizen-
Nova students do not write reflective narratives for each course. Interestingly, Evergreen is one of the least flexible schools when it comes to applying w/o a GPA. It's a mystery. Still, many Nova grads continue their educations at Evergreen. ;)

If you and your student are actively researching options, just looking ahead, or even mildly curious, come see us on the 15th!!

hschinske said...

Evergreen's acceptance rate is 95%, though. They can't be all that inflexible.

Helen Schinske

seattle citizen said...

I stand corrected, then Helen, I thought NOVA had some sort of narrative. The "lists of courses and credits," then, are the transcript, and if I read Owlhouse correctly, they only contain "B" level work (so "C" level work wouldn't pass, wouldn't count)

Helen, it surprises me that Evergreen accepts 95% of applicants. I thought that it was a popular choice around the country, but perhaps no one, still, has heard of it. I know most people I talk to haven't. Lucky applicants!

seattle citizen said...

Wow. I just checked on that 95% figure for Evergreen acceptance (I trust you, Helen, I was just curious at the numbers behind it). Only about 1600 applied (500 or so as freshmen), and almost all were accepted. I wonder why so few are applying to Evergreen? Seems a shame.

Anonymous said...

Evergreen State was one of our top choices until we became aware of the anti-semitism on campus.

Here is just one article, you can google this issue and find a lot of information. It is well known that 5 Jewish students left the school several years ago due to this issue.

http://www.mynorthwest.com/?nid=539&sid=388965

Parent with college bound student

owlhouse said...

Sea Cit-
Have you heard the line about "the further you get away from Oly the higher esteem for Evergreen"??? In other words, not always so popular in Tumwater, but my son and I attended preview day a couple weeks ago and met students and parents visiting from around the country. Evergreen reps on the student panels were from far and wide, inc a woman from California who said it was cheaper for her to go out of state to Evergreen, than in state in Cali.

And, my point was not about admittance rates but that Evergreen requires a GPA, so staff are asked to determine grade equivalencies. At least that's the word from Nova coordinators- who note that other institutions (inc UW) do not require that a transcript from an "non-graded" HS include a GPA.

seattle citizen said...

Parent with college bound student,

I read the link you provided. I wish it gave me more information about the reported harassment of Jewish students.

It quotes the Israeli Consul General, a political officer, not a “Jewish” person. He is upset because “the majority of them [what, did he poll all Evergreeners?] do not feel they can express a positive opinion about Israel, or a different opinion than the orthodoxy on campus without being harassed."

A Jewish student reports that other students were acting like the IDF….It sounds to me like the reportage is about some Evergreen students who are against Israel’s policies regarding Palestine, not personal attacks on the Jewish faith.

But I’m sure there are people at Evergreen who are anti-semitic, particularly young students, who often get caught up in politics and make grand statements about whole people and accuse them of stuff…like the Israeli Consul General made about “the majority of them” Evergreeners.

Every campus has people who hate whole groups of people. I hope you don’t dismiss all colleges because of this.

Charlie Mas said...

Honestly, the concern about how college admissions offices regard a NOVA transcript is a minor issue.

The question of the blurred distinction between opposition to Israeli polices, anti-Zionism, and anti-Semitism is even further afield.

My primary intent in the original post was to make people more aware of the excellent program at The NOVA Project and to encourage people who had second-hand knowledge about NOVA to get first-hand knowledge about the school.

If you have a rising eighth-grader or if your child isn't meshing with the structure at a traditional high school, you owe it to yourself and your child to explore the opportunity at NOVA.

ParentofThree said...

"Honestly, the concern about how college admissions offices regard a NOVA transcript is a minor issue."

For a parent who honestly does not understand how a no grade transcript works and was seeking information to understand, I find this comment belittling, but realize your intent of the post was to use the blog as a recruiting tool.

I thank Owlhouse for providing great information about NOVA, especially about how credit is only given for B level and above work. This could be a major consideration for some students.

seattle citizen said...

sorry to go off-topic. Mea culpa. I get defensive about Evergreen. But as Charlie rightly points out, this thread is not about Isreali policy and Evergreeners...

I am one of the many people who value NOVA, but, like Evergreen, it IS important for people to understand how it works. I'm glad there is some clarity provided in this thread, as even I, a fan, was remiss on the transcript process.

While this discussion could spin off another thread (yet another thread?) on what grades "mean" and to what purposes are they put, but that is different than a discussion about how NOVA works, such as the democratically determined classes, the governance that is determined with student participation, and the other alternative aspects that make NOVA what it is.

owlhouse said...

ParentofThree-
Nova's "b level" requirement comes with the caveat that Nova encourages many means of demonstrating competency. In my older student's time at Nova, he has written traditional research papers, essays and stories, taken tests, kept logs, completed lab experiments and reports... He has also dressed as a literary character, invented a game, built massive block/tube structures, pulled weeds, drawn posters, reported photo journalist style, baked, animated...

There are many paths to success at Nova.

Charlie Mas said...

Parent of Three, if you want to know how the non-grading works then I suggest you come to Exhibition Night where you can have a real-time, real space conversation with a real person. That's still the communication medium that works best. You'll get all of your questions answered to your complete satisfaction - even the ones that are inspired by the answers to your previous question.

Come to Exhibition Night. You'll be glad you did.

Anonymous said...

Hey all, little late but figured for those of you looking for info on Nova's program I could offer some clarification.

I attended the school in the early 2000s - assuming it hasn't changed here is the skinny on transcripts:

You have pass/fail (B level) credit that can be converted into regular grades if a school MUST have traditional grades.

This is done on a case by case basis with your coordinator (faculty mentor that each student chooses at the beginning of their academic career).

Presumably this adult faculty member has been working closely with the student and has context for the coursework completed. I am sure there are other factors taken into consideration. I never had to convert my transcript into traditional grades so I would indeed contact the school directly, or go to an open house, to get a direct answer on the process.

That said, I got into UW (and graduated with a 3.9 GPA no less) without a traditional transcript. Many schools use what is called a holistic evaluation of application material. That was expanded upon earlier in the thread.

And yes universities have varying methods of credit conversion for non-traditional students. They also have differing requirements to supplement where conversion is not possible.

Nowadays there are very few US schools who do not have some sort of infrastructure set up to deal with a variety of transcripts with the stronger emergence of charter, alternative, private, home school, etc. options.

As an aside: In the past students did fill out mandatory self/course evaluations in order to receive credit. They are called "contracts."

These evaluations were included in the students portfolio. It sounds like a new method may be employed now, or a hybrid approach. It also might be that this is still required, but has a new name, look, style, etc., as it has been a number of years since I have been there.

Overall this school is really wonderful for someone who is self-motivated and looking to be part of a community experience beyond the mainstream norm. It teaches you to be a citizen in the truest sense of the word - self reliant but collectively minded.

Anonymous said...

What a JOKE! This "project" as they call it is lost in so many ways. Seek out teachers who left the place due to the schools false accountability with respect to student achievement.

Case in point: the student who could not pass algebra three times from three different teachers but who enrolls in and amazingly receives an A in physics!

Don't let the relaxed atmosphere make you think that NOVA is slack.
(Ask other administrators and teachers in the district if they would support their children attending this nut house?)

The students call the teachers by their first names, but hold them in great respect. NOVA does not use grades, but students must master the Standards to earn full credit for a course. "D" and "C" work will earn full credit at another school, but not at NOVA.(BULL SHIT!)

NOVA classes are determined democratically at the beginning of each semester, and the classes don't have the same names as the traditional courses, but NOVA students need to meet the graduation requirements to earn their diploma. NOVA boasts some of the highest average SAT scores in the District, year after year.

(DUE to fact that the students who apply would be successful at almost any school in the district. Many students are looking for an alternative school. A school which is more expecting and void of the football team and cheerleaders. How about the multitude of students fall by the wayside; let's factor them into your statistics)

Every year NOVA students are accepted at competitive colleges all across the country. NOVA students can make their own path, and the school will support them every step of the way.

(True smoking dope all the way!)