Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
How will the FAU/SLPS Lab school compare to other area public schools?
One of the primary differences between this school and area St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) comes from the unique partnership with Florida Atlantic University (FAU), which provides opportunities for additional innovative teaching methods and research. As a Charter Lab School, university researchers and school faculty may redefine course content, instructional methodology, technology applications organizational frameworks and assessment strategies to learn about best educational options for various kinds of learners. Like all public schools, Palm Pointe will adhere to state standards and assessments. For example, students in grades 3-8 will take the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) each spring as in other public schools to document individual student learning growth and meet state accountability requirements.
What are the differences between the charter lab school, other state laboratory schools, and a regular charter school?
Only four state universities are authorized to operate lab or charter lab schools by Florida Statutes: Florida Atlantic University, Florida A&M University, Florida State University and the University of Florida. The FAU/SLPS Charter Lab School is one of only three charter lab schools in Florida, and the first to be started completely new; it was not transitioned from another type of lab school or other school. Similar to the other two charter lab schools and the three regular lab schools in Florida, the FAU/SLPS lab school enjoys a programmatic partnership with Florida Atlantic University. As a charter school, the school is governed by a not-for-profit Board made up of local community, school district and university leaders through a contract (charter) with FAU. Through partnership contact with St. Lucie Public Schools, the daily operations of the FAU/SLPS Lab School is managed by St. Lucie Public Schools.
What research is planned for the FAU/SLPS lab school?
Possible models for conducting research and development include, but are not limited to the following:
- Research proposed by university/college faculty or doctoral students that involves the school, students, teachers and/or parents as participants in the study.
- Independent research proposed by lab school faculty, for example classroom/teacher team action research or collaborative university researcher/teacher action research.
- Action research or collaborative action research proposed by lab school faculty in collaboration or mentorship with designated university/college faculty.
- Cooperative research programs designed by university /college faculty and lab school faculty/staff and pursued jointly.
- Curriculum development/demonstration or program evaluation.
- Multiple partner funded research that involves submission and operation of state or federal grant proposals.
All research conducted at or with the staff, pupils, or parents must be approved by the FAU Institutional Review Board (IRB)/ Human Subjects Committee. In addition, research to be conducted will be reviewed and coordinated by the school principal, and/or other administrator responsible the for lab school. Lastly, researchers must comply with state laws regarding security clearance procedures. The School Research Committee is composed of FAU faculty, lab school administration and school faculty. The federal government and FAU through the Institutional Review Board have very strict rules and procedures requiring an extensive review of any research planned by university and/or school faculty and graduate students to safeguard the well-being and confidentiality of each student, teacher or others involved. Students at the FAU/SLPS Lab School will be expected to participate in research; however, before any child is allowed to participate in an educational study, parents and /or legal guardians must approve by signing a form providing information about the research project and giving permission for the child's participation in each individual research study. Each child's participation must be strictly voluntary, but a primary purpose of the school is to research promising innovations to find new and better ways to support children’s learning and development. This research is intended to help this school, as well as others around the state increase student success and achievement.
What types of programs will be available to my child?
The core academics (ELA, math, social studies, and science) will be taught using innovative teaching methods and resources such as manipulatives, textbooks, text sets, focus lessons or computer software. With the availability of state of the art technology, all courses are designed around the high technology venue of the Classroom Audio Visual (CAVS) system. This technology allows teachers and students to bring innovative lessons to life on a daily basis. CAVS provides access to web based curricula, PowerPoint presentations, innovative Audio Visuals (DVD's, documentary films, science television, etc.) and document camera technology. Wireless mobile laptop labs will also be utilized throughout the academic and arts areas. Science will be emphasized through a science resource area in which students will explore and develop exciting skills using computer simulations, probe ware, data analysis/graphing tools and other engaging technological programs. All academics will promote student engagement in minds on/hands on activities, fostering student success in content comprehension/understanding and application to problems which will be essential to students' futures as they continue their education and become a citizen in a very competitive global economy and increasing complex society. Students will also be enriched through a broad array of elective courses such as physical education, music, media, drama, technology, and art. The beautifully designed facility with classroom walls opening into a common extended learning area will facilitate additional opportunities for differentiated student instruction, peer coaching/tutoring, students learning cooperatively, individual and small group learning stations, and other unique learning opportunities to accommodate a variety of student learning styles and motivational needs. The collaboration with FAU will link the curriculum, instruction and assessment to FAU's faculty and students through research, development and demonstration. The school will develop, test and demonstrate unique teaching methods and curriculum design to increase student performance. The entire school community (faculty, staff, students, parents/guardians, and FAU researchers, instructors and administrators) will collaborate closely to produce students, who are ready for the next steps to become outstanding future leaders.
Will this school be subject to the same kind of accountability measures as other public schools?
Yes. The FAU/SLPS Lab School is a public school and will be held to all state accountability measures, including FSA, for student performance, financial reporting, programmatic reporting and university/state standards for meaningful research and grant development.
How many students will the school accommodate?
The school will accommodate approximately 1,400 students in grades K-8. The student population represents the race, gender, and economic profile of the public school student population of the state of Florida. Class sizes will be set at the state mandated levels of 18 students per teacher in grades K-3 and 22 students per teacher in grades 4-8.
How will students be selected for enrollment?
Florida Statues details that the student body attending a university lab / charter lab school must reflect the racial and economic diversity of the state. To that end, a demographically based lottery is used to identify students for enrollment at the FAU/SLPS Lab School. Enrollment targets demographics, by race, gender, and income level which is provided by the Florida Department of Education in December each year. Through recruitment and information efforts, every student living in St. Lucie County has been invited to complete an application for the lab school. Each year the web-based admission application for the lottery is available September 1st and has a firm close date of February 1st. All applications submitted are placed in the lottery pool and sorted to achieve the necessary demographic balance by grade level. All the applications and data from the prior year are purged therefore, families who wish to apply for their children will need to complete an application each year if the children are not already attending the lab school. Parents are notified through email if their application has been selected through the lottery to fill an opening in the school. As vacancies occur during the year, families may be contacted to fill those openings; the lottery is used to identify a child having the same demographic profile as the one who left. Because we are strictly lottery driven, there is no waiting list.
Will children of Tradition residents be guaranteed seats in the school?
No. Because the FAU/SLPS Lab School must reflect the racial and economic diversity of the state, assignment is not based on neighborhood residence for any child applying to the school. An online lottery application must be submitted in order to be considered for admission.
When will parents be notified regarding their child's admission to the school?
Although selections begin for Kindergarten as early as March, all applicants will be notified through the email provided in the application by July 1st. Once notified, parents will have three calendar days to accept or decline the seat being offered to their child and given an additional time frame to hand deliver their registration paperwork. If the application has not been acknowledged within the specified time frame, the invitation will be rescinded and extended to another student with the same demographic profile.
Will the school in which my children are currently enrolled be notified that I applied to the FAU/SLPS Lab School?
No, the lab school and choice application processes are separate until you decide to accept the lab school invitation for your child. Once the seat at the lab school is accepted and any special program needs identified, the school district will be notified to withdraw your child from his/her current school and any magnet school assignment lists.
If one of my children is accepted into the lab school, will siblings also be admitted?
An online lottery application must be submitted for the sibling in order to be considered for sibling preference. As with all St. Lucie County public schools and all other lab schools, the FAU/SLPS Lab School will grant a sibling preference priority, as long as the sibling also meets the required student profile of ethnicity, family income and gender. This preference does not guarantee admission. In the event of multiple siblings with the required demographic profile applying for a single, opening, a lottery process will again be used to provide equal opportunity for all siblings, understanding that only a limited number can be accepted.
Once my child is enrolled, must he/she reapply each year?
No, students will maintain their enrollment until they complete the highest appropriate grade, voluntarily withdraw, or move outside the district. However, parents and students will be required to recommit to the school's expectations each year. This requirement will be met through the signing of a commitment renewal form each year.
How are teachers selected?
Teachers will be interviewed by the school's administrative team in accordance with SLPS policies and procedures. Those teachers will be carefully selected based on their current knowledge base, interest in professional growth, interest in research and commitment to a quality learning environment for all children.
Does this school have a Pre-Kindergarten program?
No, pre-kindergarten programs will not be offered at this time.
Does the school have a gifted program?
No, there will not be a separate full time or a resource program for gifted students. Students of all levels will be challenged through differentiated instruction to meet their individual needs and perform at a high academic level.
Do you envision any magnet programs being offered?
The school may develop specialized programs however there are no plans for magnet programs at this time.
Does the school have programs for students with disabilities?
The school will offer a continuum of service to students with disabilities needing specialized instruction and related services and whose disability falls within the mild category of disabling conditions. (For example, Speech/ Language, Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD), Other Health Impaired (OHI), etc. Services for students in need of programs requiring intensive specialized instruction for more than 51% of their day in a separate classroom setting (outside of regular education) will not be available at this school. Students would not have full access to Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in this setting if they require intensive services as directed by their Individual Education Plan (IEP). Because of our partnership with FAU's Center of Autism and Related Disabilities, the school will provide services for students across the entire Autism Disorder Spectrum not necessarily a cluster type of program addressing only one end of the spectrum.
What is the school's calendar and hours of operation?
The school follows the SLPS school year calendar. Office hours 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with school hours from 9:30 a.m. to 4:10 p.m.
Will an aftercare/childcare provider be on site?
St. Lucie Boys and Girls Club will provide the after school child care program.
Will transportation be provided?
Yes, transportation will be provided through the school district at no cost to students who live outside of the customary two mile boundary from school.
What are the expectations of dress for my child?
A mandatory uniform will be expected of all students K-8. Please see the dress code guidelines for the school year, available at http://tradition.fau.edu/students-and-parents/documents/dresscode.pdf.
Is there a plan for adding a lab school for high school students?
No, not at this time.
How will this school help SLPS move toward the next level of excellence?
This school will provide its teachers and students the broad expertise and emerging knowledge gained by working regularly with district staff, university faculty and innovative researchers. The school will also serve as a teacher demonstration, professional development and graduate studies site, assisting current and new teachers with the real world challenges and emerging opportunities of Florida's educational future.