How does Queens Paideia's individualized approach work?

QPS’s 6:1 student-teacher ratio results in all of our teachers developing solid relationships with every student. The teachers, called learning managers, and QPS’s learning aides, function as a close-knit team that has worked together for years. The result is a personalized approach that balances academic and non-academic learning.

The year is divided into alternating blocks of learning formats: weeks of group activities and weeks of independent learning. During group activities, students learn to collaborate, communicate, share ideas, and help each other. In independent learning blocks, they learn to set goals, work on their own, find learning resources, ask for help when they need it, and take responsibility for their progress. Academic learning occurs through both types of activities, but each of these learning formats promotes different non-academic competencies.

The core academic subjects serve as vehicles for the development of inquiry skills, as well as important thinking skills like problem solving, analysis, categorizing, and making connections. All students progress at their own best pace—as fast and as far as they can, or as slowly as necessary to maintain steady progress. In the non-academic areas, all students receive daily feedback and coaching.

At what rate do students progress academically with the Paideia Individualized Education system?

Students at QPS typically progress faster than they would in most other schools because they are not held back by the needs of a large classroom, nor are they forced to go forward before they have mastered a required skill. The personalized attention they receive, along with the freedom to work at their best pace, enables them to advance with confidence and continuous success in their academic achievements.

How does the QPS environment promote socialization?

QPS’s mixed-age environment and personalized approach encourages varied and meaningful types of social interaction. Students engage with their same-age peers and also with students who are older and younger than they are, in ways that promote deep bonds of friendship and loyalty. They receive a lot of support from QPS learning managers, who observe students’ interactions and provide constructive feedback from a perspective of empathy and kindness.

How do I know what my child is learning if there are no grades?

We maintain detailed records of student achievements in the core subject areas, and these are accessible to parents as private online documents. Parents also learn about their children through periodic formal updates that the core-area learning managers send; semi-annual summative assessments that document what students have learned in the preceding five months; an online portfolio that their child maintains; and regular e-mail updates from learning manager’s about their child’s progress in both academic and non-academic areas.

Because of our low student-teacher ratio, QPS learning managers assess students daily by observing both their learning achievements and the non-academic aspects of their progress. Rather than rely solely on tests, which measure only what a student knows in a given area at a particular moment, everything a student does at QPS contributes to our understanding of him/her.

Is there a routine or structure at QPS?

There are set periods for the core subject areas (math, science, language arts, and social studies), during which students work independently on the objectives of their learning plans. There are also times they come together in small groups for activities that involve collaboration and discussion—reading groups, science experiments, current events, foreign language instruction, movement education, and so forth.

Because of our low student-teacher ratio, QPS learning managers assess students daily by observing both their learning achievements and the non-academic aspects of their progress. Rather than rely solely on tests, which measure only what a student knows in a given area at a particular moment, everything a student does at QPS contributes to our understanding of him/her.

Is there homework?

Homework is assigned for practice of existing or developing skills; for the development of time management and self-management skills; and/or to continue with a project of great interest to the student. It also promotes the idea that learning happens anywhere and at any time. The amount of homework is adjusted to each individual student’s ability to manage it. Learning managers often coach parents in ways to interact with their children regarding homework. Older students take increasing responsibility in assigning themselves homework, always in consultation with QPS learning managers.

Is there standardized testing?

At QPS, standardized testing is a tool for tracking a student’s progress over time, and for identifying any gaps that may exist in his or her skills and knowledge. It provides quantitative data on the achievements of QPS students as compared to national norms. We do not use standardized tests to compare students to each other, to give them grades, or to evaluate our teachers.

My child is often distracted and distracting in school. How does QPS handle students like that?

This is a common problem in all schools, but less so at Queens Paideia because our learning managers endeavor to make learning challenging, interesting, and backed with resources that suit each student’s learning style. They also help students learn self management skills—monitoring themselves with greater insight into what distracts them and what enables them to work more productively and independently. We conference with parents, too, to develop strategies used both at school and at home, so that students working to improve in this regard feel fully supported in their efforts.

How does QPS deal with bullying?

Bullying in all of its forms is much less of an issue at QPS than at many other schools because of our low student-teacher ratio and a culture that assumes and models kindness toward others. When issues between students do occur, QPS learning managers provide feedback, thereby helping students develop skills in conflict resolution, self-management, and compassion.

Who are QPS's learning managers?

QPS learning managers are experienced educators with advanced degrees from major universities. They are exceptionally strong in relating to children and in creating and implementing personalized instruction that takes into account students’ different learning styles. You can read more about them on the Staff page of our Web site.

Do students use computers and learn about technology?

QPS is stocked with Mac laptops, Chromebooks, and tablets that students use to acquire basic proficiency in typing and navigation, and, as they get older, to achieve learning objectives, including those required for research in all areas. Technology at QPS supplements targeted learning of skills (e.g., math, geography) and knowledge (related content and demonstrations). Just as important, students learn to think critically about the different technologies, including social media, blogs, e-mail, apps, games, video, and so forth. Computer use is carefully monitored by QPS staff.

Does QPS have classes in the arts?

A professional artist/instructor teaches weekly classes. Our learning managers also incorporate the arts (graphics, crafts, music) into students’ learning activities in the core subjects whenever possible. QPS continually explores and arranges visits by and to NYC arts organizations.

Our youngest students (K and 1st-grade age) participate in a Dalcroze Eurhythmics class every week.

Does QPS have a physical education program?

Students participate in Movement Education, which involves strength-building, stretching, and cooperative games. Movement education is about gaining greater awareness of one’s physical abilities and the role that beneficial movement can play over the course of a lifetime.

Does QPS have an after-school program?

QPS’s neighbors/partners–LIC School of Ballet, Secret Theatre, Donna Levinstone–offer affordable after-school activities almost daily. QPS also creates and hosts academic enrichment classes and homework help for those who need it. Recent offerings include karate, chess, classical and Broadway choirs, ballet and sports dance, fine art, Spanish, and science classes for younger students. Between all of the options, parents can piece together an after-school schedule that makes most sense for their child.

Does QPS have a lunch program?

Parents generally send their children with lunch from home every day. Some parents opt to order lunches from one of the local cafes that deliver to our building.

Is QPS a registered NY state school? Is it accredited?

QPS has a K-12 charter from the NY State Board of Regents. QPS may, at some future time, seek accreditation from a nationally known oversight agency for independent schools.

What happens when a student goes on to another school?

Children educated at QPS do very well academically when they transfer to traditional schools. They may go through an adjustment period in response to larger classrooms, their associated regimentation and rules, and often less sophisticated content. When a student transfers to another school, QPS does all that it can to assist in making the transition smooth. We provide a transcript and samples to show achievement and skills acquisition, and we can administer (or determine where to take) any required standardized tests.

Are there plans to make QPS bigger?

QPS is close to its current maximum enrollment of 30 students. There are a few available spots each year and a waitlist of applicants.

What is the Mechner Foundation? What is its role at the school?

The Mechner Foundation is a not-for-profit organization devoted to research in scientific and educational endeavors. QPS is supported by the Foundation as a long-term project to demonstrate a path toward K-12 educational reform and more productive ways to operate schools.