Highlights of the school's academic priorities and program are the following:
Exemplary Curriculum & Instruction. OSS adopts innovation models in Math, Science and Reading. In order to implement the school mathematics curriculum, OSS will adopt the proven instructional mathematics curricula, the Connected Mathematics Project (CMP) and the College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM). In order to implement the school science curriculum, OSS will adopt the proven instructional science curricula Foundational Approaches in Science Teaching (FAST). Academy of Reading and Read XL interventions will be used in reading and reading curriculum will be aligned with the Orange County Schools' Reading Plan and Sunshine State Standards. CMP, CPM and FAST curriculums were identified as exemplary curricula by the U.S. Department of Education. Academy of Reading and Read XL have good ratings by Florida Center for Reading Research.
In math, the school will provide a problem-centered curriculum and is organized into units that address ideas through a series of investigations. Each investigation contains problems for teachers and students to explore. As students explore a series of connected problems, they develop a profound understanding of important mathematical concepts that are embedded within the problems. The math curriculum uses a variety of teaching methodologies, including lecture, class discussions, manipulatives (including hands-on and computer-based manipulatives), and structured study teams. During class, students will be actively working on guided investigations, much like math labs, to develop mathematical concepts and problem solving skills. The program strategies emphasize active learning and group work; students are introduced to problem solving, communication, and reasoning through laboratory experiments and real-world applications. Concepts are developed through guided instruction, individual and teamwork, tactile and kinesthetic activities, data collection, class work, and homework. Students are encouraged to develop a positive attitude toward mathematics, to become more aware of their own thinking about problems, and to describe their efforts, both orally and in writing.
Hands-on science. In order to implement the school science curriculum, OSS will adopt the proven instructional science curricula Foundational Approaches in Science Teaching (FAST). By employing the Foundational Approaches in Science Teaching (FAST), hands-on science will be offered to the students. The students will be directly involved in forming ideas, asking questions, making observations, and conducting experiments. Students will be up and about in the lab and actively working with other students to discover new ideas. A guiding premise of this program assumes that all students regardless of age, sex, or ethnicity- can enjoy success in science. Students will question the workings of their world and find answers in active reading, listening, discussion, and hands-on learning. The students will grapple with scientific principles as they learn how to appreciate a less-than-intuitive universe, and they will come to value those things we take for granted in our daily lives.
Individulalized Reading Curriculum. Students work in small collaborative groups that function as research teams, becoming producers rather than just receivers of information. In reading, the measurement tools such as quizzes, portfolios, formative and summative tests, practice tests specifically designed by Academy of Reading and Read XL will be used for both student progress and student achievement.
The Academy of Reading is a reading intervention software tool designed to complement an existing reading curriculum for students in K-12 and adults. It is an intervention program for those who are behind in their basic reading skills as well as for learners who need to develop and improve reading acquisition skills. The program focuses on phonemic awareness, phonics, and reading comprehension. The Academy of Reading recommends 20-30 minutes, 3-5 times per week, though younger students or exceptional students may only be able to work for 15 minutes at a time and high school students and adults may work as long as 45 minutes.
The Academy of Reading is designed to improve automaticity, which is defined by the program as learning skills to a level of rapid automatic responding through practice. The systematic and explicit instruction and practice is presented in training modules called Phonemic Awareness, Reading Subskills, and Comprehension. In the first two modules, most of the instruction includes a blend of Phonemic Awareness and Reading Subskills. Comprehension is presented only after students master the first two modules.
In Read XL, each weeks lesson begins with background building activities called create interest, build a mental model, and unlock text structure. These activities guide students to make predictions about the text, visualize the setting, and understand the organization of the lessons genre. Frequent teacher-directed questions embedded throughout the text encourage students to monitor understanding. Specific strategies such as character analysis, sequence, fact/conclusion, main idea, summary, compare/contrast, and story grammar are introduced in a lesson and then applied as appropriate in subsequent lessons. A final wrap up of the reading activity provides literal and inferential questions for class discussion. Unique to Read XL is an activity following each lesson called real-world reading which includes authentic text presentations of maps, movie reviews, medicine bottle labels, menus, pie charts, bar graphs and other relevant and meaningful examples. The instructional routines built in to Read XL are consistent and teacher friendly, and include direct instruction, modeling, guided practice, student practice, and application with feedback.