Frequently Asked Questions

What is the vision behind EA?

EA is a program where students connect their passions and interests with academic and career goals ranging from performance arts, to entrepreneurship, to electrical engineering, to auto mechanics.

EA provides an opportunity for students with a support network, which includes parents, an academic advisor, content area experts, and community mentors to develop a personalized learning plan.  Student learning is not dictated by time requirements but rather is shaped by each student’s unique learning needs.  Our goal is to meet students where they are at academically and provide highly engaging activities to promote individual growth.

When does EA program meet? Where?

EA meets during the regular school hours and is located at Verona Area High School, 234 Wildcat Way, Verona, WI.

Who should apply?

Students interested in EA have a variety of college and career plans that range from fine arts to electrical engineering. All students, however, share a common belief that they have passions and interests that are worthy of exhibiting within the context of school.  Each student is willing to invest in themselves and grow as well-rounded learners through their passion.  Below are a few characteristics that may help you decide if EA is a good fit for you:

I am a student wishing to integrate all subjects using real-world and technology-enhanced learning contexts as a platform for engaging in my education:

  • I am committed to learning in preparation for life after high school.
  • I am a student who recognizes the importance of collaboration and creativity for all career paths and learning experiences.
  • I am an independent learner with passions and interests.

Do EA students meet the same academic standards as other students?

In most cases, EA students will exceed the learning targets of a typical high school student. Students must demonstrate evidence of their learning against standards that align with College and Career readiness.  Students must demonstrate proficiency in all areas of core academic learning.

EA welcomes students with all academic backgrounds and interest levels. The EA curriculum offers a diverse range of courses, seminars, technology-based learning, and project-based learning designed for the college-bound student, allowing students to make academic choices that fit their individual needs and interests.

How will I know I am learning the complete curriculum if I am participating in short seminars, on-line learning, project-based learning, in addition to traditional classes?

All learning targets for complete classes will be entered into our software system at the beginning of each academic year. As students complete courses, seminars, workshops and projects, they know exactly which targets have been met and which targets they have yet to complete. This will allow students to choose seminars, design projects, and choose classes that not only meet their interests, but also meet academic requirements. Parents, students and teachers are able to access and collaborate on student progress at any time. Learning experiences are sequenced and more teacher-led at the beginning of a student’s EA experience to help students become independent, self directed learners.

What does “self-paced” mean?

Self-paced means students can start and complete learning targets at anytime. The proficiency-based model will allow students to have a schedule that meets their individual needs. Students will not have to wait for the beginning of a traditional semester to start work on learning targets.

Is it true that EA doesn’t assign grades or award credits?

Grades and credits offer little information as to what a student has or has not learned.  Students will have clear targets for what they are to learn and the level at which they will need to learn it in order to be ready for college and career.  In addition, students, parents, and educators are able to clearly identify academic strengths and areas in need of improvement.

Will EA students finish in four years?

Learning at EA is personalized, which means that students may set a pace that matches their own learning needs.  Therefore, students may finish in less than or more than 4 years as long as they have demonstrated proficient evidence of learning in relation to the standards set by EA.

Can my child take traditional courses?

While a majority of the content courses must be taken through portfolio work, students may opt to enroll in a traditional course (offered at a college, online, or in Verona Area High School). Because each learning plan is individualized, this may vary for each student.  Freshman students may not take more than two traditional courses each semester. After freshman year students may if they choose can take 3 classes offered at Verona Area High School.

Can my child still participate in athletics or other extra-curricular activities at VAHS?

EA is a program within the Verona Area School District. They are still eligible for all extra-curricular activities, guidance services, nursing services, and academic support that a VAHS student would receive.

What are the graduation requirements?

EA strongly believes that a solid academic foundation is critical to the mission of our school.  Individual growth in learning, the pursuance of personal passions and interests, and rigorous learning expectations are imperative.  Students will demonstrate learning in each of 5 areas aligned to Common Core Standards and Wisconsin Model Academic Standards:

  • Communication (English)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (Math)
  • Empirical Reasoning (Science)
  • Social Reasoning (Social Studies)
  • Citizenship/Leadership (21st Century Standards, Health, Physical Education)
  • Additionally, students may engage in study in the following academic fields:
  • Agriculture, Art, Business Education, Family and Consumer Education, Health, Fitness, and Physical Education,  Music,  and World Languages
  • Because traditional credits are not used, the following criteria will be used to determine graduation from EA:
  • The student has demonstrated measurable growth in each of the core areas of authentic learning (Communication, Qualitative Reasoning, Citizenship/Leadership, Quantitative Reasoning, Social Reasoning).  Growth will be measured through:
    • Multiple sources of evidence of student learning in specific core areas of learning and specific standards.
    • Standardized Test Results
  • The student has demonstrated evidence of learning that meets or surpasses aligned Common Core Standards in each of the four core areas of academic study, as well as the areas of learning identified under the heading Citizenship/Leadership (Healthy Living, Active Living).
  • The Student has been exposed to standards in the four core content areas assessed within the traditional high school course load required of graduates of VAHS, as well as the areas of learning under the heading Citizenship/Leadership.
  • The student must regularly defend their portfolio in front of a panel of experts, which will include teachers within each of the core academic areas.
  • The student will show evidence of learning and proficiency in fields of study beyond the core content areas, which may be of individual interest or passion.
  • The student may use standardized assessment results as an additional measure to demonstrate proficiency in identified core areas of learning.

View the Pathway to Graduation Document

How would this positively impact my daughter or son’s chances of getting into colleges?

Admissions counselors tell us that they are looking for students who excel academically and who bring unique perspectives and experiences to the university. Exploration Academy offers a strong academic foundation as well as the opportunity to pursue experiences that help students delve deeply into areas of study aligned with personal passions and interests.
School admissions officers at each UW-System said that student’s in a proficiency-based, standards-based learning environment absence of credit, and GPA would be judged fairly based upon rigor of the student’s work and the student’s experiences.
Upon completion at EA students will have a detailed account through their personalized learning plan (PLP) of their learning experience.  The PLP will include a learner profile, an educational narrative, a standards-based proficiency report, and a portfolio of student work demonstrating proficiency against standards.

From UW Madison’s Admissions Office:

Our admission counselors review each application individually and are looking for students who demonstrate strong academic ability, as well as leadership, community service, creativity, talent, and enthusiasm. We also consider personal characteristics that will contribute to the strength and diversity of our university.

From Michigan State Honors College Recruiter:

There are a few schools which we are aware of that don’t offer grades. I think you’ll find any decent college admissions office will do what is needed to thoroughly review (a student’s) record.  (EA) sounds like an interesting program–one that will be very individualized and learner centered. Student’s could  prepare for and take Advanced Placement tests later in high school to show understanding of subject matter at a college level. Many of our home schooled students are typically doing some AP tests or dual enrollment at a community college to show that they are doing an honors level high school curriculum.  External measures (like ACT, AP exam scores, CLEP tests) can be a good way to show college readiness and interest in honors education in particular.

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