Our mission at GALA is to provide a highly rigorous college preparatory STEM-focused education in an all-girls environment. In many schools across the nation, girls, particularly girls of color, are not provided with the opportunity to take rigorous math, science and computer science courses. GALA, with a focus on equity, access and rigor, provides the opportunity and support for success in college and beyond.
EQUITY AND ACCESS
Our policies at GALA are based on educational research. Numerous studies (Jeannie Oakes, Beverly Daniel Tatem, Jo Boaler) detail the detrimental academic and social emotional effects of academic tracking (students grouped by perceived academic ability), while detailing the benefits of mixed-ability classes. Mixed-ability classes are particularly effective when using collaborative groups. Collaborative groups are one of the mainstays of the GALA educational frame.
Our school embraces the philosophy of growth mindset. A growth mindset is the understanding that intelligence is not fixed but that abilities and understanding can be developed. Based on the work of Stanford Psychology Professor, Carol Dwek, growth mindset allows learners to view failure as an opportunity for growth. At GALA you will hear teachers and learners state often that they haven’t mastered a concept “yet” but also hold the belief that with hard work they can master concepts. Growth mindset allows students to continually learn and challenge themselves.
Our focus on equity, access and growth mindset provides a system with no tracking, which includes not offering honors designated courses. Students may choose an accelerated math pathway in middle school, and in high school students are encouraged to accept the academic challenge of Advanced Placement (AP) courses. In keeping with the College Board’s policy and our equity frame, we do not have barriers to access to what traditionally has kept underrepresented groups from taking and succeeding in AP coursework.
As an LAUSD school, we follow the Common Core State Standards and administer Smarter Balanced Assessments. We have chosen curricula that are rigorous, collaborative and provide real-world applications. By using rigorous and real-world applicable curricula, we ensure that students at GALA meet or exceed the state standards all the while making sure we are providing an equitable education to all our students.
Students at GALA complete seven years of math, seven years of science, and two years of computer science with a variety of STEM electives.
Science: Our science curriculum is Stanford Science, a Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) lab-based program with students completing numerous weekly lab activities starting in 6th grade.
Engineering and Tech: Our computer science and engineering curricula are infused throughout science and elective courses in middle school and continue in high school with the mandatory classes Exploring Computer Science (9th) and AP Computer Principles (10th). These courses are designed by the Computer Science Department at UCLA.
Math: Our mathematics curriculum is College Preparatory Mathematics which provides collaborative activities that allow students to dive deeply into the mathematics standards and concepts preparing them for the rigors of calculus.
Students at GALA complete seven years of English and six years of history. Our humanities curriculum focuses on evidence-based writing and argumentation, critical thinking and questioning, collaboration, leadership and a sense of social responsibility. Our English curriculum is SpringBoard, College Board curriculum which is a college preparatory English curriculum. SpringBoard provides each grade level with a theme around which grade levels design projects. Students read and analyze literature from a wide variety of authors including Chinua Achebe, Reyne Grande, Homer, Zora Neale Huston, Harper Lee, William Shakespeare, Angie Thomas, Laurence Yep among many others.
Our history curriculum is infused with the Stanford History project which challenges students to complete document based questions, focusing on providing logical argumentation and appropriate evidence for opinion.
AP Humanities courses consist of AP English, AP History and includes the prestigious AP Capstone program. AP Capstone is a two-year program comprised of AP Seminar in 11th grade and AP Research in 12th grade that provides experience in writing college level research papers on a variety of subjects.
Knowledge of the arts are an important aspect of developing a well-rounded education and many STEM careers require an exposure to education in the arts. Infused into both 6th and 8th grade history curricula is the New Heights architectural and design lessons. Students interested in architecture can continue in high school, where the completion of two years of architecture provides a California Technical Education architectural design certificate and opportunities for internships. Students begin music education in 6th grade and can choose music as an elective during the school day and as well as a 7th period elective. Our 7th period arts electives include world music, orchestra ensemble, dance, theatre, creative writing and poetry slam.
THE ADVISORY SYSTEM
Our advisory curriculum is an academic and social emotionally based class that receives a grade and credit for the course. Designed by teachers, this course includes academic skill-building, college education, career exploration, digital citizenship, social responsibility, mindfulness practices, and community circles. Each grade level focuses on a theme based on SpringBoard’s curricular themes, as well as monthly themes that are uniform across all grade levels.These themes are infused with age appropriate topics which are discussed and analyzed within the advisory classroom. Advisory classes stay together from 6th grade through 12th grade, fostering community and building lasting relationships along the way.
GROWTH MINDSET & MASTERY GRADING
Growth mindset, the idea that intelligence is not fixed but that ability and intelligence can grow, is the impetus behind the establishment of mastery grading at GALA. Mastery grading, based on the work of Benjamin Bloom and Fred Keller, is an approach to student assessment in which student work is graded directly on whether it demonstrates objective mastery. Rather than using points or partial credit, final grades are based on the degree of mastery each student has demonstrated by the end of the course. Students typically have multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of each objective. Mastery grading puts emphasis on learning, provides clarity for students, and encourages perseverance and growth mindset.
GALA ACADEMIC AWARDS
GALA is one of only 56 schools to receive CollegeBoard's Female Diversity Award for achieving high female representation in both AP Computer Science A and AP Computer Science Principles.
Our school embraces the philosophy of growth mindset. A growth mindset is the understanding that intelligence is not fixed but that abilities and understanding can be developed. Based on the work of Stanford Psychology Professor, Carol Dwek, growth mindset allows leaners to view failure as an opportunity for growth. At GALA you will hear teachers and learners state often that they haven’t mastered a concept “yet” but also hold the belief that with hard work they can master concepts. Growth mindset allows students to continually learn and challenge themselves.
Growth mindset goes well with our Mastery Grading frame. Mastery grading focuses the learner on demonstrating knowledge of a concept by demonstrating mastery through assessments linked to standards in the course. Mastery Grading allows the student to continually work on a concept to dig deeper into the material for mastery.
Based on these philosophies, we do not have Honors classes at GALA. Teachers differentiate within classes provide either assistance with mastering the standards or enrichment that is accessible to all students.
In High School students may choose to take Advanced Placement classes. Advanced Placement are courses that follow college curricula but are available to students in high school. These courses are extremely demanding yet teachers at GALA provide students with assistance through office hours and special weekend programs such as AP Readiness at UCLA.
MASTERY STANDARDS BASED GRADING
Mastery Standards Based Grading is an intentional way for teachers to track their students' progress and achievements while focusing on helping students learn and reach their highest potential. It is based on students showing signs of mastery or understanding various lessons and skills. See image and video below explaining.
TRUE OR FALSE: Students can always retake the same exam at a later date to show mastery.
ANSWER: FALSE - Ideally students will take a different assessment that measures the same learning target.
TRUE OR FALSE: Students can turn in late work whenever they want.
ANSWER: FALSE - While policies varies from teacher to teacher, submitting assignments significantly past when a learning target was taught is not a tenet of Mastery Learning and Grading.
HIGHLY RIGOROUS ACADEMIC PROGRAM
GALA is a highly rigorous college preparatory school.
All Middle School students complete:
· College board pre Advanced-placement (AP) course work in all core subjects
· Advanced mathematics courses can be taken beginning in 7th grade.
All High School students complete:
· 4 years Mathematics
· 4 years Science
· 4 years English
· 3 years History
· 2 years Advanced Computer Science
· AP courses in multiple subjects (13 AP classes)
· AP Capstone (1 of only 5 schools in the district)
GALA CLASSES: All courses follow Common Core State Standards. All science classes follow Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
GALA ELECTIVES: Each student participates in a 7th period elective of her choice. A full list can be found HERE.
MIDDLE SCHOOL COURSE MAP