Advance College Academy (ACA) The ACA provides students the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree in social sciences from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College (JSRCC) while also earning an advanced studies high school diploma. All 8th grade students are eligible to apply for acceptance into the ACA. Students who are selected will take honors and AP level courses during the 9th and 10th grades and dual enrollment college courses during the 11th and 12th grades, earning 60 college credits at a minimal cost to their parents. The college credits are transferable to over 20 top colleges and universities in the state.
That sounds like a very interesting program...is it new? Or do you know anyone who has tried this for their kids? What do they say? How does your DS feel about this (granted 5th grade is young). I tend to be the type to consult DS often on his thoughts and if he rejects the idea, then I know that I can keep my planning on the backburner vs front burner.
Do the 60 units come from 11th and 12th only? If it's called dual enrollment, then aren't students normally limited to the number of units they are able to take? I'm sure it's probably straightforward but might be good to clarify that just in case.
I'm not sure how new it is, and I don't know anyone who has gone this path with their kids. I did see several parents debating the merits of the program this spring when they handed out the information, but as always, there seemed to be a lot of opinions flying around with few facts. Most seemed to be in the "kids should be allowed to be kids" and "it's too much pressure at that age" category. Both of which may be true for MOST students. It seemed that those who were considering it were looking into cost savings for themselves on college tuition - which is basically how the school district billed it. as opposed to long-term benefit to the child. Which is where I checked out of following the conversation. He and I haven't really talked about it yet specifically. I know his general goal (to complete as much as he possibly can between September and May), and outside of that, we will have the conversation at some point.
The 60 units are preselected classes that are only available to 11th and 12th grade students. It isn't technically dual enrollment, it doesn't look like.
I'm using this as a general guide for how I want to proceed over the next several years (he's a rising 5th grader). Unfortunately, it doesn't really give me a good description of what exactly he will need to cover for grades 6-8, there are 2 different options for a "history/social sciences course of study" and a "science course of study" each having different "paths."
For the "science course of study" it has Integrated Science 1 and 2 for 6th and 7th grades, respectively. Description says that it integrates half of a 6th grade course into a life science course (or physical science course for 2) and that the pace and homework are more intense. Then the plan for 8th grade is earth science.
For the "history/social science course of study" it states that it's half of an 8th grade civics and economics course divided into US History 1 and 2, for 6th and 7th respectively. World History 1 would be the 8th grade course.
This might come across as negative but I'm just suggesting this based on my own experience and how my DS loves to learn...
1. Very often, with my guy, his interests don't jell with what a program stipulates for a certain grade level, e.g. he would have baulked at earth science for 8th for example and instead of life science, he just went straight into a labless AP Biology study because that's what he needed at the time..., so...
2. DS's own interests have led him into more depth and rigor than anything I have planned for him
3. Asynchronous development...how much of the requirements are suited to where your DS is developmentally? Gifted learners tend to process learning differently and PS-based programs usually don't take such things into account.
Not negative at all. He's still kind of finding himself and what he's really interested in. For example, he loves history, but wouldn't be able to tell you what history he wants to learn about. Mostly, his main goal is to complete multiple different textbooks in a year's time. We did 2 math books this past year, next year he wants to do 3. But he also hates getting less than 100%, so he will refrain from truly challenging himself. It's something we have been working on for the past 2 years. After Kindergarten through 2nd in PS, he assumed that he should automatically get a 100 on everything and when he didn't it was extremely frustrating for him. The best way I can describe him is content - regardless of what he is doing. He's just happy to be learning, it doesn't matter what it's about. Even when he doesn't *want* to do the work, as soon as he begins, he's more than happy to complete it. My challenge comes because he has an almost photographic memory, and as soon as he grasps a concept, he becomes lazy with it and makes careless errors. So we haven't found anything that we can really park on and go into detail on because he wants to move onto something else. I love to hear that you skipped whole levels of science and went straight for AP Bio, I'm terrified of making that kind of a jump.
In high school, for 9th and 10th, it's all honors courses (exception on World Language) and then 11th and 12th are all pre-selected college classes taken at the HS. Basic gen ed requirements.
So, with that in mind I'm trying to find a way that if he ever needs to transition back into PS for whatever reason, it's possible, even if he is above the "traditional" track. Right now, there is no way that he would be able to transition in and continue on his current path - the courses just aren't available at his age. (We live in a rural area and he would be going into middle school this year. There is only 1 middle school (5th and 6th), 1 junior high school (7th and 8th), and 1 high school in our county.)
He LOVES math, history, and science. He loves reading as well, but struggles with inference in literature. He completed Spanish 1 this year with a B.
My current plan for 5th grade is as follows:
Language/Literature: MCT Grammar Town
Math: Saxon 76 and AOPS PA
History: STOW 2 and 3
Science: Apologia General Science and possibly Physical Science if time allows
Foreign Language: Spanish 2
Extra: Alfred's Music Theory; and probably a pre-collegiate course for gifted students in either Lego Robotics or Programming
My only concern is the "honors" requirement in high school. If he is taking high school level courses before he hits 9th grade, how can I ensure that they would meet the level of an honors class? I did find out recently that our school system is now offering online course options (that are also available to homeschooled students), so that might be something to consider.
I'm also really looking for the right science and history curriculum. I haven't found anything that I'm really excited about, so I'm giving Apologia a shot this year and will continue with SOTW (we've completed 1 and half of 2) until we finish the series. Both of these are areas that I'd like to really dig in and find something geared for advanced students, but I haven't found it yet. I'd also like something that has built in testing so I have a quantifiable measure of success.
I count honors as additional rigor completed outside/ in addition to course requirements...no clue about Apologia or Saxon, but I would consider AoPS honors level (algebra and above) although I am not listing them as such in his transcript. For physics that DS completed prior to HS, the course provider called it honors and this meant additional homework/ problems to solve. We brainstormed with DS for a "maker"style project and counted his many hours creating it and applying (algebra-based) physics to calculations as honors level but I have actually ended up leaving that course out of his transcript because he is working on higher level physics now. Courses completed in middle school (except for math and foreign language) are usually not included in high school transcripts. And again, my point that I couldn't have guessed what DS would be doing in 7th-8th when he was in 5th grade (although I did have a rough idea, it was still some way off).
I didn't realize that middle school courses other than math and foreign language didn't get included on a transcript. That's good information to have. Would that be the case even if he ended up taking an AP class? To clarify, I'm not trying to have a set-in-stone plan that he must complete XYZ in each grade. I fully expect that some things he will go through faster than I expect and that others will take an agonizingly long time (to me anyway, ha). I'd just like to have a road map of what I'd like to hit and if we take a few detours or scenic routes along the way no big deal, or if we completely decide to skip some stops, then I'm fine with that as well. My husband is big into the 5 year plan, and is generally less than thrilled when I tell him that I'm taking it semester to semester. At some point, DS will truly find his passion, and I'm excited that I get to be a part of the process. Until he does, then I'll guide him through making sure we cover a wide variety of topics and when *THE* one comes along, then I'll make sure he learns as much about it as he possibly can.
MCT and AOPS will both be new to us this year, but I'm so excited about them and I really think they will be a great fit.
***This may be a really long, rambling post, but it's what I'm currently spazzing about over here. Any advice welcome. Also, I have no current plans for early graduation or EEP to a college. I'd like to essentially keep him at basically "grade level" and if we have to supplement with different types of classes as he gets into HS, then so be it. Obviously, some things I have progressed him to a higher level, but I believe that we can find a way to make it work without simply looking at it from a grade level perspective. For example, if he takes both Biology and Advanced Biology (Apologia) next year (in 6th), or ends up taking both at different times - or AP Biology at a later date.
Good luck! Hope there I've offered something useful/ not redundant and hope it works out great for your DS!
Thank you so very much for your