Charter Renewed for Kaleidescope School

     The Alaska State Board of Education has renewed the charter application for Kaleidoscope School of Arts and Science. The school first opened in 2004.

     There are about 250 students who range between the ages of kindergarten and 6th grade attending Kaleidoscope. It’s one of the charter schools that operates inside the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. The state’s school board scrutinizes this charter every five years to make sure they’re meeting the objectives of its core mission, as well as any rules passed down by the state. 

     Based on test scores, Kaleidoscope has had a good run since it started. It received a five-star rating under the new system the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development implemented last year. Students often are in the 93 percent range for reading proficiency, 97 percent for writing and about 96 percent for math. That’s above the district numbers and about 20 percent points higher than the state average. The school also has had a consistent population. 

     One of the board members asked Susan McCauley how they incorporate arts and sciences into their everyday schooling. McCauley is the director of teaching and learning support for Kaleidoscope. She said they start with a concept for certain grades. She used the example of teaching “balance” to third and fourth graders.

     “And so the students are learning about everything in relation to balance. So, balance through government; balance through their reading… through their math skills,” McCauley said.

     She said that concept fits into the arts and sciences, too. There are 15 teachers, one principal, one full-time and one part-time special education teacher. And McCauley said none of them is a dedicated art teacher; instead they use an outside source to teach the staff and they turn around and use art in their everyday instruction. She said this style helps the students reach their full potential.

     “If they’re really strong in music and maybe they’re not so strong in some other area, they can still find a way to be really successful.”

     McCauley said the standards the state implemented last year showcase this model as well because seeing progress over time is a better measure than seeing how a student performs on a single test. 

     The state school board had no issues with the application and approved the renewal during its meeting last week in Juneau. The KPBSD school board approved the charter at a meeting in December. Kaleidoscope is one of four charters operating in the district. Greatland Adventure Academy was approved in 2013, but has had trouble finding a suitable space.