Course Format - How does a class work?
We build our classes on a university model, since that is how most students will learn in college and beyond. Each course includes one or more sessions per week of live teaching and discussion, with self-study, papers, projects and exams outside of class. Most courses also include "daily work," which in other settings is called "homework," consisting of problem sets, worksheets, and smaller activities that enhance self-study.

Live Instruction. Regular school year (September through May) classes meet for 90 minutes one or two times per week, depending on the course. The conference interface includes audio, interactive slide presentations, interactive whiteboard, and more. Teachers use the live class session to provide group instruction in important or difficult areas and to spot-check student progress through Q&A. The live sessions also allow students to be sharpened through group discussion and peer interaction. For security and safety, and to maximize accessibility for remote locations, TPS does not use cameras in meeting rooms.

Assignments, Grades, and Records. Along with media-rich live conferencing features, all of our courses have a web-based portion that includes integrated event and assignment calendars; assignment drop boxes for submission and return; assignment project tracking where interim versions are linked to the initial and final version; and integrated gradekeeping.

Summer Classes. We offer great summer classes, including classes to strengthen your skills in core areas (courses in English, Math, SAT Preparation, Study Skills courses, and more), and classes to enrich your summer (courses in Literature, Logic, Photography, and more). TPS Summer classes work like Fall/Spring classes, except for the timing. The summer session is six weeks long and covers one regular semester of work, and TPS Summer classes meet two days per week for approximately two hours each day, making the pace about 2 1/2 time the pace of a single course during the school year. More information...

Collaboration and Social. We also integrate community features like student profiles; class and club forums; blogs; and more. We have live meeting rooms where students can study together and socialize in a safe environment. We have a student-run e-zine (i.e., an on-line student newpaper) and student-led weekly chapels with well-know guest speakers. We also have an honor society.

Trips and Events. We offer international service trips, winter and summer camps, a leadership camp, a graduation ceremony, and more.

On-line Safety and Security. TPS provides unmatched on-line safety and security. Our classroom system is integrated with our enrollment system, so we can ensure that only students enrolled in a class are able to get to that classroom. Our on-line Community system is similarly integrated. Our system has live and recorded monitoring 24/7/365. Our classrooms are accessible only during class time. Our meeting rooms do not permit camera use, reducing their risk for after-hours activities. Our systems respect family firewalls and filters, and do not try to work around them in any way -- including for classroom content.

Evaluation and Feedback. Effective feedback is the hallmark of home education, and this is where our teachers put most of their time. This is one of the things that distinguish us from other on-line programs, which usually provide little feedback. In our courses the students evaluate daily work against a key, while the teacher evaluates reports, papers, projects, and exams. The teacher is the mentor and evaluator of each student, and the point of contact for parents. Teacher evaluation includes an objective grade and feedback for improvement. If a teacher uses a grader, the teacher remains fully engaged in and fully responsible for individual evaluation and feedback. Students can usually expect feedback within one to two weeks after the teacher receives the work in the correct format. For large assignments (e.g., major papers, long lab reports) or during busy periods (e.g., mid-terms, finals) it may take teachers longer to provide feedback. In principle, our intent is to provide feedback before the next evaluation on the same material or skills.

Independent Study. Since our courses support home education, they include some live class time and a lot of independent study. The format is basically the same as a college course, and so they are great preparation for college. Our teachers use their expertise to guide the curriculum and provide personalized evaluation and feedback. To enhance independent study, most of our courses include "daily work," consisting of problem sets, worksheets, and smaller activities. Sometimes this daily work has a grade associated with it, but it is not intended to be a significant part of a student's overall grade. Any daily work grade is intended to be an incentive to do the work and gain credit for effort, not evaluate the student's mastery of the material. Our intent with daily work is that the student complete the work without help as best he can, then check his work against the provided key, and then go back to re-study what he got wrong, so he will learn in the process. If after re-studying the missed material the student still has questions, he can ask the teacher, as we do not require parents to have any expertise in the material.

Parental Oversight. We understand parents to be responsible for their children's education, regardless of the medium they choose. We assume parents will actively supervise their children as necessary in all aspects of our courses, including deadline management and academic performance. We also assume parents will remain aware of and responsible for their children's behavior during class time and in any correspondence with their teachers or school staff. Though daily work is done at home under supervision of the parents, we do not require that parents have any expertise in the material for helping the student with it, nor do we ask parents to provide any evaluation of the student's mastery of the material. The parents' role is oversight in the diligence and effectiveness of the studying, and making sure that any scores submitted reflect the diligence of that student. Our teachers will notify parents where they detect a problem or declining performance trend, but we assume that parents will already be aware of these issues because of their own active supervision of their children.

Rigor and Workload. Our courses are designed for college-bound students with high academic standards. They are excellent preparation for admission into top U.S. universities, as indicated by the success of our students who have already entered college. Under our academic standards, an average student who works reasonably hard can expect to receive an average (80-90%) grade. The average student will spend approximately 6-8 hours per week for a junior high course and 8-10 hours per week for a high school course. Advanced and honors courses will take more time, even for strong students. Individual experiences vary with student aptitude and diligence. More information...

"Advanced Placement (AP)" and "Honors" Designation. We offer AP-certified courses taught from a biblical worldview. Also, most of our other advanced courses are good preparation for their respective AP test, and families wanting to prepare for those tests should ask the teacher before registration how to supplement the course to maximize success in preparing for an AP test. Most of our courses are rigorous enough to be considered "Honors" by organizations and institutions who make that distinction, but the decision whether to apply those designations or others (e.g., "College Prep" or "College Level") is up the parent who prepares the transcript. More information...

Audit Option. If a student would like to benefit from the instruction and feedback of a particular course but not do all the work associated with that course, we will, on a case-by-case basis, consider an audit option for that student. In this arrangement, the student participates in the class and submits any work (e.g., reports, papers, exams) from the regular syllabus that the family wants evaluated. The teacher will evaluate and provide feedback on any regular work submitted on time. The teacher will grade submitted items to the same standard for all students, without making special grading standards for an incomplete assignment submitted by a student auditing the class. For audit situations, the teacher will not provide a semester grade or final grade (since homeschooling families assign their own grades and generate their own transcripts, our grades serve primarily as recommendations to the family in any case). An audited class does not count as a prerequisite for a follow-on course in The Potter's School, so a student who had audited a prerequisite course would have to pass applicable placement requirements to take a follow-on course, or would have to obtain special permission from the follow-on course's teacher to accept the audited course as a prerequisite. Because students taking a class in an audit status may be less likely to take a follow-on course, we will accept non-audit students in priority over audit students. Auditing a course must be approved in advance by the teacher and the director. There is no reduced price for an audited course.

Credit and Transcripts. The Potter's School provides top-quality course content, feedback and evaluation that families can reflect in their transcripts and portfolios in a manner best suited to their educational requirements. For families seeking an external accredited transcript, we offer this option as well. For those who want to demonstrate that they have maintained top academic standards throughout high school, including U.S. or international students who are required to be enrolled in a school that provides a diploma and accredited transcript, TPS also offers a standard and an honors diploma. More information...

Missed Classes and Recordings. Our classes are intended to be taken synchronously (live), and regular attendance in class sessions is expected for each course. Since the classes are interactive discussions, many teachers even assign a participation grade. Missing an occasional class is not a problem, but missing many classes makes it difficult for even a strong student to do well in the course. To increase flexibility for busy homeschooling families, recorded class sessions are available to students enrolled in that class for four weeks after a class session. These recorded sessions are not intended to replace regular attendance in the live class sessions. If for any reason a student plans to miss or ends up missing more than three live class sessions in a fall or spring semester, the family must obtain concurrence (prior to enrollment, if the absence is planned that far in advance) from the teacher for the student to continue in the course. Because summer sessions move more quickly, a student may plan to miss only one summer class in a three-week period, and that must be coordinated prior to enrollment with the teacher. We will consider other exceptions with prior approval, particularly for overseas students with limited internet connections. More information...

Cancelled Class. Since our courses are primarily independent study programs, students can miss the occasional class without a problem. However, in those cases the student remains responsible for all deadlines and anything discussed in class, so it is incumbent on the family to gain any missed information on their own. Due to server scheduling constraints, we generally do not schedule make-up sessions or allow students to sit in on a different section to make up a missed class. However, if class is cancelled (or effectively lost) more than twice in a one-semester course or more than three times in a full-year course, we will schedule a make-up session for any subsequent lost or cancelled class. The make-up session, which will also be recorded, will be at a time that maximizes the number of students who can participate, but we do not guarantee that all students will be able to make it to any given makeup classes.

Deadlines. Our teachers enforce deadlines. We consider deadline management to be an essential skill for college or job preparation. Also, we need students to honor deadlines so our teachers can effectively manage their own workload. Our teachers will deduct 5-10% per day for late work submitted to them. They will extend grace when circumstances beyond the family's control preclude timely submission, but only where the problem could not have been anticipated and where the family continues to make reasonable effort to submit the work as close to the deadline as possible. When a planned event will preclude timely submission we expect the family to increase the student's workload before the event and submit the work in advance, rather than allowing the student to fall behind and increasing the student's workload afterward.

Behavior and Discipline. We hold parents responsible for the behavior of their students during class and any other time their students access our services. We assume that parents are providing sufficient oversight to ensure their students prepare for class, remain attentive during class, and manage their assignment and exam deadlines. We also assume that parents are providing sufficient oversight to ensure their students remain respectful and considerate during other school activities. Because we cannot physically monitor students during class we may occasionally require that parents be present with their students at the computer, to help us identify the source of a recurring problem. Disruptive, disrespectful or discourteous students will typically be given one opportunity to repent and obey. Because of their adverse impact on other students, if they do not comply, they will be blocked from all services until a parent contacts us to discuss corrective action.
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