The Charles Ott Academy offers placement in an environment that follows a rigorous and challenging credit-earning, individualized, curriculum rooted in project based learning. 

“Project-based learning is a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real-world problems and challenges, simultaneously developing cross-curriculum skills. Because project learning is filled with active and engaged learning, it inspires students to obtain a deeper knowledge of the subjects they're studying. Research also indicates that students are more likely to retain the knowledge gained through this approach far more readily than through traditional textbook-centered learning. In addition, students develop confidence and self-direction as they move through both team-based and independent work.” (Edutopia.org).

 Two project-based learning sessions are offered each semester for students in grades 8-12, these sessions are highly interactive and experiential. Each session is half day (three hours), with one site in the morning (7:45 – 10:45) and another in the afternoon (11:15 – 2:15).  Projects are competency-based with credits being awarded in the content areas of English and Science enabling students to work towards a diploma from their sending high school.

The Charles Ott Academy is intended to be one component of a student’s educational experience. Some students maintain a partial course load at their local high school. Others are involved in a highly individualized program through Strafford Learning Center’s Unified High School Supports menu of options, through participation in extended learning opportunities or through other means supported by their local high school. All students develop personalized learning plans that lead to high school graduation. Seamless alternative pathways to obtaining high school credits are encouraged.

The Charles Ott Academy is staffed by three teachers with combined certifications in General Special Education, English, and Science as well as a Social Worker and Program Director. Consultants are available in the areas of mathematics, social studies, art, music, and technology education. Based on the nature of the projects students are working on, community members and area businesses serve as consultants as well.

 Description of the curriculum used for this program

The Charles Ott Academy is competency based and credit awarding following the standards related to the New Hampshire Curriculum Frameworks.

Using the overarching theme of Green Technology as a context, students earn high school credits in Science, English and potentially other subject areas based on the individual students need. Examples of Green Technology projects could include topics such as alternative energy, sustainable living, organic agriculture and environmental advocacy. Whenever possible, local businesses and community organizations are utilized as resources for the development and implementation of projects.

 Students submit evidence to demonstrate that competencies have been met. Valid and authentic evidence may include:

  • Student portfolios
  • Successful completion of local high school competency-based assessments
  • Student created videos
  • Exhibitions
  • Presentations
  • Letters of commendation.

 The student’s proficiency level in each competency area is evaluated by:

  • Assessing how closely the evidence submitted meets this written standard
  • The assessor(s) professional judgment
  • Comparison of the student’s evidence with exemplar work that illustrates proficiency in each competency area.