Occupying the entire three-story building on the corner of Seventh and Glacier, the Redmond Proficiency Academy is bursting at the seams. When Michael Bremont, director of the academy, started the charter school in 2009 he fully anticipated an initial enrollment of 150, but that quickly grew to 350 and today they are nearing capacity at 480 full time students. Thus they have leased both the city water building, the former Canyon’s restaurant nearby and have just signed a lease for 3,600 square feet behind the Printing Post.
Redmond was the first city in the nation to open a proficiency-based charter school that focuses on personalized learning. Bremont, who wrote the original grant to establish the school, explained that the unique model combines best practices from college, online and project-based class learning.
The charter school is operated by Personalized Learning Inc., a not-for-profit corporation registered in the State of Oregon to operate Oregon public charter schools.
Redmond Proficiency Academy (RPA) has 14 full time teachers and another 19 privately contracted teachers, usually community professionals who teach one specific class. From its website you’ll learn that the RPA is a creative learning environment preparing students to succeed in a global community through innovative programs and by building positive relationships and community partnerships.
It serves ninth through twelfth grade students who desire a more interest-based or self-designed course of study or who seek an accelerated course of study or desire a non-seat time based schedule to meet their personal needs. Students who are interested in this school need to be an active participant in their own education and desire a personalized program that will move at the rate of their individual ability.
“Research has undoubtedly proven that students learn at different rates, yet traditional high schools still hold to seat time requirements,” said Bremont. “Through innovative programs, positive relationships, and community partnerships, we provide students a creative learning environment that prepares for success in the global community and meets all state and federal education requirements.”
In January 2007, the Oregon State School Board of Education approved the ability to earn a diploma through a “wider use of proficiency” in Oregon schools. With adoption of this policy, credit for courses can now be earned if a student can “demonstrate proficiency inside or outside the classroom, through documentation of prior learning, by examination, or by any combination thereof.”
Bremont has spent more than a decade advocating for change in the traditional methods students are taught in public schools. He began his educational career shortly after obtaining his degree in education from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania. He went on to complete his graduate work in educational administration at the University of Oregon.
After receiving state recognition for his educational leadership, resulting in significant academic and cultural change, he moved on from his position as principal of a small school in the Willamette Valley to Central Oregon where he eventually launched the RPA.
He has a passion for proficiency-based education, where traditional barriers for learning are removed, where students are required to master a standard before moving on, and failing is not an option. He says his vision or model for the academy has not changed from its inception. “Part of the vision is we can be whatever the students/community need us to be. We’ve added some classes, deleted others over the course of the school’s development. It’s very much like college where teachers have a lot to say and the general idea is that we’re really here to assess students real learning and provide that curriculum.”
Redmond Proficiency Academy enables students to create an individualized program based on their needs and with little time spent in a conventional classroom or typical high school environment. The course load may include a mix of internet-based, individual and group-based instruction. Students may also outline possible internships to obtain both real-world work experience and education at the same time.
The entire cost to operate the school is funded through a Federal Charter School Grant applied for by Personalized Learning Inc. There is no financial obligation from Redmond School District or Redmond taxpayers.
For more information about Redmond Proficiency Academy, see www.rpacademy.org or 541-526-0882.