Educational Approach & Services
Our educational philosophy is grounded in an unshakeable belief that learning is an ongoing, lifelong experience, and thus students deserve the freedom to make choices, to put ideas into action, and to grow and learn in their own way.
Focusing on each student’s individual goals and needs, Alger Learning Center teachers assist students and parents in identifying and defining those goals, and design learning contracts to meet them, based on personal interests, background, and aptitudes.
By individualizing learning programs to suit each student’s learning gifts, learning differences, or both, we enable them to develop the tools for a lifetime of independent learning, free of the constraints of the traditional, regimented system.
We offer a comprehensive variety of services, including distance learning and local homeschooling assistance programs, diagnostic testing and credit analysis, credit retrieval, and high school completion.
As a state approved private school we can work with the public schools and districts, accept dualschoolers and transfer their credits, and issue high school diplomas and official transcripts. We have no “school year;” students may enroll at anytime, year around, and complete their work at a pace determined by their learning contract.
Enrollment Process & Outline of Local Homeschool Extension Program
Students interested in enrolling in our Local Homeschool Extension program should call us at (360) 595-2630, or toll-free outside Whatcom County at 1-800-595-2630, to make an appointment for an interview with director John Lackey at our downtown Bellingham classroom. Parental participation is recommended and encouraged for students under 18. Our general hours of operation are from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., Pacific Time, Monday through Friday.
After completing an enrollment form, students begin a series of (optional) diagnostic tests that provide us with information about the student’s skill levels and potential problem areas in core subject areas. This diagnostic testing can require several hours of the student’s time, so we prefer to conduct it over two or more sessions to minimize burnout and produce better results.
While the testing process provides us with skill level information, it does not always give us insight into the student’s learning differences, or preferred learning styles. These issues can be discussed during the interview and in the space provided on the enrollment form, although in many cases learning differences and preferences will come to light during the educational process. Students also complete a questionnaire to help determine their preferred learning style(s).
After the completion of testing, students and teacher/consultants begin the process of designing classes. This is an interactive process, and may take more than a single session to complete, as the students are afforded time to explore a variety of subjects and ways in which to achieve their educational goals by reviewing different textbooks and other learning resources, including (but by no means limited to) periodicals, educational TV and movies, computer software and the Internet.
The designing process for each class culminates in a learning contract that contains four components: course description, time frame for completion, resources to be used, and evaluation of completed work. Students will be provided information helpful in developing the learning contract, and though student, parent, and teacher/consultant must agree on its contents, the student plays a major role in the process.
When classes have been designed, the process of continuous monitoring begins. An appointment will be made for the student to return to one of our two local campuses in about a week’s time, and the teacher/consultant will determine how the student is progressing, and whether any adjustments are needed in the learning contracts. For example, a particular textbook may not appeal to the student; it may be too boring, too advanced, or too simple. All components of the learning contract may be adjusted throughout the length of the class, and the goal is always to help the student learn in the way that is best suited to them so they can experience success.
We provide students with various time record forms, which show subject area, time spent on each subject, and a brief description of the student’s response to materials. These records of the student’s independent progress should be brought to the campus at appointment times so teachers may review them in conjunction with learning contracts and continuous progress reports (which the student should fill out on a regular basis when visiting the classroom). Combined with completed assignments and test scores, this information allows staff to appraise the student’s response to their independent learning program, and enables them to adjust learning contracts, if necessary, or provide specific help and encouragement in problem areas.
When learning contracts have been completed, a report card is issued and the corresponding subject, grade, and credit are entered on the student’s transcript. High school graduation is based on a minimum of 24 credits (for students entering 9th grade after June 30, 2015), though additional credits are required by many colleges.
The Homeschool Extension program is not attendance-based, and the need for teacher/consultant contact by individual students varies widely. Some students are able to work almost entirely independently, while others may need considerable direction and support in completing their learning contracts. Some students benefit from a regular appointment (which can be weekly, semi-weekly, or even several days a week), others call for appointments as needed, to receive consultation, turn in work, or use resources in the classroom.
Special learning labs are scheduled for students experiencing difficulties with certain subjects (most typically, math), and our student-friendly classroom on Bellingham Bay provides a tranquil location for students to meet one-on-one with their teacher.
Although the Homeschool Extension program is not a custodial, attendance-based one, Washington State law does require an average minimum of 4 and 1/3 hours per month of student/teacher contact at our local Bellingham campus, and it is the responsibility of the student to see this average is met.
Appointments are necessary to insure quality teacher/student ratios, and students arriving without an appointment may find the classroom full, or teachers otherwise unavailable. No access to staff and facilities outside the parameters of our regular hours (see above) is possible without prior arrangements.
Withdrawal Policy: We require two weeks notification prior to withdrawal.