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Frequently Asked Questions

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What grades does ISLA serve?

Our youngest students must be three years old by September of the academic year. Students are required to be fully potty trained prior to enrolling at ISLA. We serve students through 12th grade.


How many students are in each class?

 ISLA Academy maintains a commitment to low student-to-teacher ratios, because we believe in providing each student with a highly individualized level of care.


How are ISLA students assessed?

Authentic assessment, sometimes called comprehensive, or performance assessment, is usually designed by the teacher to gauge students' understanding of the material. Examples of these measurements are open-ended questions, written compositions, oral presentations, projects, experiments, and portfolios of student work. Authentic assessments are designed so that the content of the assessment matches the content of the instruction.

Effective assessments give students feedback on how well they understand the information and on what they need to improve while helping teachers better design instruction. Assessment becomes even more relevant when students become involved in their own assessment. Students taking an active role in developing the scoring criteria, self-evaluation, and goal setting, more readily accept that the assessment is adequately measuring their learning.


Authentic assessment can include many of the following:

  • Observation

  • Essays

  • Interviews

  • Performance tasks

  • Exhibitions and demonstrations

  • Portfolios

  • Journals

  • Teacher-created tests

  • Rubrics

  • Self- and peer-evaluation


ISLA Academy students participate in conferences or receive standards-based reports at the end of each six-week unit.  At the close of each semester, all students receive a comprehensive semester report, with extensive narrative comments.  Our aim is for each student to achieve mastery before moving forward in their learning.  This means that students continue working on fundamental skills in reading, writing, math, and more until they are able to achieve mastery of the standards-based skills.


What standards does ISLA measure?

Students are assessed in Language Arts and Mathematics using the Common Core State Standards from the United States of America.  Science is assessed using Next Generation Science Standards.  Social Studies is assessed using Project Aero Social Studies Standards and Benchmarks.


Do ISLA students use textbooks?

Of course!  However, ISLA Academy takes advantage of the increasingly vast array of online and digital resources available.  Instead of only following through a prescribed textbook sequence, we use inquiry to inform the direction of our learning.  In addition, we utilize certain electronic resources to supplement what is being taught in the classroom.  The benefit of using digital resources is their superior ability to be responsive to student understanding.  


Can my child go back to their home country’s schools?

Absolutely.  However, it is important to note that no two schools or districts are the same.  Students that study internationally may or may not receive the same content that they would in their home district, especially related to local history and geography.  

ISLA Academy focuses on conceptual learning and inquiry.  One of the great benefits of this method of education is its focus on educating students on the big ideas.  This ensures that, no matter the specific content presented, our students will understand the broader ideas presented and be able to make connections to their previous learning.


Is ISLA accredited?

ISLA Academy students have the option of receiving transcripts and/or reports from two different schools in the United States.  All ISLA students are enrolled in one of the two schools, depending on the level of accreditation preferred by each individual family.  The first school, Clonlara School, is proud to be accredited by the following organizations: Accreditation International (Ai), Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA-CESS), and the National Council for Private School Accreditation (NCPSA).  For families that choose this level of accreditation, there is an additional fee based on grade level.  The second school, Homelife Academy, is a Category IV Church Related School as defined by Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-50-801 and is recognized by the State of Tennessee Board of Education as such according to the State Board of Education Rule 0520-07-02.05.  The diploma and transcripts awarded by Homelife Academy are accepted by schools internationally and in the Dominican Republic.


Do all students use computers?

Starting in Phase 3 (3rd and 4th grades), all students must possess a computer and bring it to ISLA Academy each day.  Computers are used regularly to assist in research, writing, and in-class communication.  In Phase 2 (1st and 2nd grades), we begin teaching students how to use computers in order to be successful in subsequent grades.  In Preschool and Phase 1, students do not use computers in the classroom.  


How does ISLA handle discipline?

When students are engaged in meaningful learning, discipline problems become far less common.  Too often we have heard that certain students have behavioral issues, when in reality, they are simply bored with the material or the level of instruction.  We give our students the opportunity to speak their mind, to move about the classroom when necessary, and to channel their youthful energy into focused learning.

Having said that, there are some behaviors that we do not tolerate at ISLA Academy.  First and foremost, we ask students to care for others, so there is no bullying or disrespect allowed.  Secondly, we ask students to care for their things.  This means that all materials, especially technology, are put away when not in use.  It also means that students must care for the campus and materials.  We don’t allow vandalism. We also do not allow students to use technology or the internet in a way that negatively affects themselves or others.  Finally, we ask students to care for themselves.  This means that they are academically honest.  No plagiarism allowed.  This is a tricky subject in the digital age, and we take great care to educate our students on the many possible examples of academic dishonesty.


Are ISLA teachers licensed?

Yes.  All lead teachers at ISLA Academy possess degrees in education or their field of teaching.  They are also all current in their holding of teaching licenses from their home country.  However, ISLA Academy believes in the philosophy “Each one, teach one”.  We believe there is a teacher inside all of us, and when given the opportunity, we often invite visitors and guest lecturers to educate our students on a variety of subjects.


What is the primary language of instruction?

All classes are taught primarily in English.  However, in our Preschool and Phase 1 classrooms, there is always a Spanish language instructor on hand.  It should also be noted that the majority of our staff is bilingual and that the vast majority of our students speak more than one language.  ISLA embraces different cultures and languages and we feel that our classrooms are stronger because of their diversity.  We have had great success with ESL (English as a Second Language) students.  


Does ISLA offer sports and other electives?

Physical education, art, music, dance, drama, and foreign language are all integrated into our curriculum.  Students receive a healthy amount of each subject during the year, with a minimum of 6 hours per week dedicated to elective pursuits.  High school students that are on or ahead of pace for graduation may choose to pursue independent studies upon approval from an ISLA advisory teacher.


What is the inquiry cycle?

The inquiry cycle is a process of thinking and learning that guides everything we do. Check out this link for a very thorough image and explanation of how it works.  

Cathy Short's Inquiry Cycle


What is project-based learning?

Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. Essential Project Design Elements include:

  • Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills - The project is focused on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, and self-management.

  • Challenging Problem or Question - The project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.

  • Sustained Inquiry - Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information.

  • Authenticity - The project features real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards, or impact – or speaks to students’ personal concerns, interests, and issues in their lives.

  • Student Voice & Choice - Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.

  • Reflection - Students and teachers reflect on learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, obstacles and how to overcome them.

  • Critique & Revision - Students give, receive, and use feedback to improve their process and products.

  • Public Product - Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom.


What types of students are successful in this model of education?

ISLA Academy has successful students of all types and learning styles.  We believe that motivation to learn is the most important characteristic for student achievement.  We put an emphasis on showing students the reasons why they are learning certain concepts.  We give students choice in the focus of their inquiries and in the mode of presentation.  


What is ISLA's homework policy?

We believe learning begins with curiosity, and we encourage our students to engage in learning that is real and relevant to them. When students’ interests guide their activities, the result is greater excitement, stronger motivation, and deeper learning experiences. For that reason, homework is only assigned in the following circumstances:

  • It is not busy work or “homework for homework’s sake”; rather, it pertains to the student’s interests or is directly related to their current projects.

  • It is work that makes sense for the student to do outside of school time. For example, they did not complete their work during the day because they chose to participate in another activity or concentrate their time on a different project, piece of work, or subject; they work better at home in certain subjects than other subjects; they work better in the afternoon or evening than in the morning when the work is covered at ISLA; or their project can only be done outside of class time, such as watching a political debate or participating in a community event.

  • It is the student’s decision to work further on what they started during class because they have a particular interest in the subject.

What are the class hours?

Students may begin arriving each morning at 8:00 am.  All classes begin at 8:30 am and the full day is complete at 3:00 pm. There are optional clubs available after 3:00 pm Monday-Thursday.


What is ISLA's yearly schedule?

You may find the yearly calendar posted on the Calendar page of our website. We begin each year on the last Monday of August.  Our academic year has approximately 180 days, with a fall break in October, three weeks off for winter holidays, and a one week break in the spring in observance of Semana Santa.  We also observe all Dominican national holidays.  Because we have a very diverse student body hailing from many different nationalities, it is impossible to observe each of those countries’ holidays.  However, we are always happy to excuse our students from class in observance of any special holidays or events.  Please just let us know in advance so we may maintain our ability to provide the best possible education to each child.

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