FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
This section is designed to provide quick answers to some of the questions most often asked about our Odyssey schools. The questions under the headings are just a representative sample of what we routinely answer.
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Are you a PUSD school, charter, private or magnet school?
Odyssey Charter Schools are free, public charter schools. Odyssey, established in 1999, is charted through Los Angeles County Office of Education. OCS-South, established in 2018, is chartered through Pasadena Unified School District.
How can parents get involved in the school?
Parental involvement at Odyssey is critical to the success of students as well as to the success of the school as a whole. Parents bring a substantial body of experience, knowledge, skills and talents that enrich the school and the learning experience of each child.
Odyssey Charter Schools encourage parents/guardians, family members, friends and community members to share their time, knowledge and abilities with our students by joining their campus’s parent participation group. OPPG and OSPPG offer many opportunities to participate in your student’s education, meet other families, and volunteer your time. Additionally our newsletters, emails, and school events calendars, are great communication tools to stay current on what’s happening around campus.
What is the School-Family Partnership?
While Odyssey’s three learning domains create the foundation for educating the whole child, it is the school-family partnership that creates a true community of learners supporting our goals in students becoming self-motivated, competent, lifelong learners. Parental involvement at Odyssey is critical to the success of students as well as to the success of the school as a whole. Parents bring a substantial body of experience, knowledge, skills and talents that enrich the school and the learning experience of each child.
Odyssey believes all students should have access to high quality public school options and that it is our shared responsibility to support the education of all learners in our community. It is understood that the level to which any one parent or family can be involved at Odyssey will vary greatly from person to person and family to family.
Who funds the school, do parents have to pay tuition?
Odyssey Charter Schools are tuition-free, public charter schools. We are funded by the district and state according to the number of students attending our schools and average daily attendance. Each school year we must raise private funds to maintain the following staff & programs: Teacher Assistants, Art workshop, Garden workshops, Physical Education Workshops, Middle School Electives. We rely on parents and the community at large to help us reach this goal.
All parent funding contributions are voluntary, tax-deductible, and support the curriculum, classes, faculty wages, and operating costs for each program.
What hours is school in session?
School begins daily at 8:15am for all students Transitional Kindergarten through 8th grade. Dismissal times vary for each grade and day.
Is there a lunch program?
Odyssey Charter Schools participates in the National School Lunch Program, and meals are prepared by Aveson Food Services. Meals include a fresh salad bar and hot meal item. Eligible students that apply may receive free or reduced price breakfast and lunches. Families may also choose to purchase breakfast and lunch items.
What is the Teacher/Student ratio at Odyssey?
Every classroom is led by an experienced, credentialed teacher. Classroom sizes range from 26:1 in Transitional Kindergarten through 3rd grade, and 28:1 for grades 4th through 8th.
What is looping and how does it work?
Our looping classroom environments are a critical component to the success of our unique and innovative school design. It is key to the success of our School-Family Partnership as it encourages and develops a stronger sense of community and family among parents, students, and teachers.
The practice of teaching students in looping classrooms creates long-term relationships between teachers, students, parents, and ultimately improves learning and instruction. At its core, the intent is for students to have the ability to remain with a teacher for two years. This design also creates a learning environment that gives students extra time together to build relationships with each other and their teachers, and provides an efficient continuum of experience that boosts achievement, learning and social-emotional wellbeing. This approach benefits teachers as well, giving them more time to get to know students and families, to know their needs, and to use longer-term strategies to effectively teach all learners.
Looping is defined as a teacher spending two years with the same group of classroom students. The students and the teacher remain together as the class is promoted. At the end of the second year in the pattern, the children move on to a new teacher while the looping teacher returns to the lower grade level to receive a new group of students.
When students and teachers stay together for multiple years—a strategy some call looping—they do not have to spend all that time re-establishing relationships and developing norms and routines, and they can devote much more time to the business of learning. Teachers can come to know their students and families well, and can organize their teaching to take advantage of student strengths and experiences and to address student needs.
What is Workshop?
Our educational philosophy is grounded in a workshop based approach which enables students to become self-directed and lifelong learners. The design of this workshop approach makes teaching amenable to differentiated instruction and to meeting individual students learning needs throughout the day.
The workshop format provides a structured and predictable place where teachers are viewed as mentors and models. In workshop, student writers, readers, and mathematicians, learn, and practice new strategies, develop understanding and explore questions using prior and personal experience as scaffolds to creatively integrate new knowledge. Teachers confer, stimulate, and question as they work with whole groups, small groups, and individual students to personalize their instruction. Since workshops are times when all students are working at their independent levels, the instruction they receive is inherently responsive to students’ needs.
In the workshop environment, students learn and practice new strategies, develop understanding and explore questions using prior and personal experience as scaffolds to creatively integrate new knowledge. Within the workshop classroom, differentiated instruction occurs naturally, as instructional approaches vary based on the individual and diverse academic needs of students in classrooms. Teachers confer, stimulate, and question as they work with whole groups, small groups, and individual students to personalize instruction. It requires teachers to be flexible in their approach to teaching and adjust the curriculum and presentation of information to learners maximizes each student’s growth and individual success. To support the workshop classroom and differentiation, checks for understanding, formative and summative assessments are conducted on a weekly and monthly basis so teachers may make changes to small group work targeting instruction to individual learning needs of the students in their class.
Does Odyssey Charter Schools participate in State testing?
As public schools, our 3rd-8th grade students are required to participate in the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) Program every spring. In addition to the student learning data the CAASPP provides, our authentic assessments and employs a variety of assessment methods to more accurately place students on their learning progression.
What are the results of your student performance data?
The use of data to inform instruction and improve student achievement is paramount to our success as one of the top elementary public schools in our state. Since the launch of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) assessments in 2014, our students have demonstrated strong performance on this metric of student learning and score in the top 10% of all public schools in California.
The data generated from CAASPP assessments is used in conjunction with the results of curricular assessments to develop a picture of student performance and learning that is broader in nature and takes into account learning across time, rather than at a single point in time.
Throughout the year, teachers and administrators collect, analyze, synthesize, and report student performance using various data points to create a broad picture of student learning. These data points include standardized test results, teacher developed assessment data, and student work as evidence of learning
This form of continuous improvement is imperative to ascertain the specific instructional strategies and practices yielding successful results, ande accomplishment and certify knowledge and understanding has been gained. It brings attention to the areas where understanding is still incomplete and enables teachers, students and parents to focus their efforts accordingly. Assessments are grounded in the standards presented by the CA CCSS, and inform all areas of instruction. helping identify areas for further improvement.Assessments support and guide instructional practices, the learning process, and help students achieve mastery of content.
How is discipline and conflict handled?
Our schools embrace Restorative Practices to support our students social-emotional learning and our classroom management program. In order to create a strong community that has the skills to resolve conflicts restoratively, teachers use Restorative Circles, Conversations and Conferences. These practices promote positive relationships and involve all parties in a conflict to repair harm. Students are empowered to use Restorative Practices themselves to mediate conflicts and grow as leaders in the community.
How do you view diversity as one of your school’s strengths?
Diversity is a key element and distinguishing characteristic of our school community. Our multifaceted learning environment embraces the individual and varied learning styles of a diverse student body. Through active learning environments and classrooms, students experience learning in both traditional and innovative ways that blend content, modalities, approaches, and pedagogies.
Our approach to diversity is focusing on the intentionality to serve a diverse population and not one that is racially isolated or overly representative of any one group or characteristic. We define diversity in its broadest sense to include race/ethnicity, gender, language, socioeconomic status, ability, religious beliefs, political affiliations, and family composition.
How is the school governed?
The strength of Odyssey Charter School’s Governing Board is a key component to our stability, success and reputation as a high quality public choice school. Throughout our history, the Governing Board has been comprised of diverse community members with a variety of skills and expertise needed to ensure compliance with its role of oversight and fiduciary responsibilities per school policies, local state and federal regulations. Its role to oversee the vision, mission, unique school design, related school performance, and overall school operations has led to the successful fulfillment and implementation of the organization’s goals, mission, and vision.
What does homework look like for students?
Students are expected to complete any assigned homework daily. For most of our grades, homework consists of reading (or being read to for younger students) for at least 20 minutes daily, math problems and occasional writing assignments or projects. Homework is used as a method to develop good study habits for students, foster independent learning skills, learn responsibility and prepare students for the rigors of their future schooling. At the upper grades, students can expect about one hour of homework nightly.
Are special education services available?
Odyssey believes students with disabilities benefit educationally, socially and emotionally from the opportunity to receive designated instructional and related services consistent with the student’s Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) in the least restrictive environment with an inclusive model. Students with disabilities are fully included within the general education classroom, through supports, services, accommodations and modifications. Full-time Inclusion Specialists and General Education teachers provide in-class services to students based on their individual needs as dictated by their Individual Education Plan (IEP).
How is technology used at Odyssey?
Technology at Odyssey is a tool which will be used to support the learning and teaching process. Via an integrated approach, teachers enhance their practice with available classroom technologies, with the ultimate goal of supporting student learning across the three interdependent learning domains; academic excellence, social emotional wellbeing, and social responsibility. Teachers use technology as a tool to assist in differentiating instruction and ensuring the needs of our diverse community of learners are met. At a broader level, technology is used to foster independent learning, offer individualized instruction, provide interactive hands-on experiences, support our interdisciplinary thematic framework, and teach important skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century.
What are middle school classes like?
Our 7th and 8th grade classes have four highly qualified teachers who are experts in their respective fields. Students switch teachers for Mathematics, Science, Language Arts, and History throughout the day. Middle school students also participate in study hall, Physical Education, as well as elective courses throughout the week.
What is Study Hall?
Our middle school students have Study Hall twice a week. Therefore students have two hours set aside each week to ensure that students are keeping up with their school work and receiving peer or teacher help when needed. In addition, teachers help students stay organized, prioritize assignments, and practice effective study habits all of which will be of great benefit as they prepare for high school.
Where do students go to high school?
Our graduates attend a variety of local public, charter, and private schools and all fair well in their continued educational endeavors. Some of the schools that our students have attended include; Grand Arts, Alverno Heights, Waverly, Sequoyah, LACHSA, John Muir, USC Hybrid, Eagle Rock, California School of the Arts, Pasadena High, ESAT, La Salle, and Cathedral.