Sound Check

Nova High School, the Launching Pad


US schools spend a ton of money

this dude wants to build a full recording studio. this is the kind of idea that flies around at public schools and gets followed through. i went to a public school in tacoma that was remodeled for more than a hundred million and it had a high non-complete rate. nobody gets fired
Our daughter is about to graduate from Nova, after four years of amazing growth and achievement. The school is a unique and supportive place. It is not for everybody, but for those kids who don't fit elsewhere it can be a lifesaver. Thanks for the article and attention. Kudos to Mark Perry and the fabulous and committed teaching staff.
As a parent of a young man who will be graduating, I cannot say enough wonderful things about Nova and the staff/students who make it happen.

It is shameful that SDS does not recognize the talents and commitments of the teachers/staff/students and utilize the knowledge and experience in making high school learning more meaningful for the students.
Shame these little snow flakes cost 39-49% more to educate than the rest of the school kids. Must be nice to be special.
"Nova's average cost per student is just below the district average"

Nova: $7,476

Nathan Hale: $6,921

Roosevelt: $6,184

Ballard: $6,216

Alfresco dear, suppose every "under-performing" teacher was immediately fired, yet the school still had a high non-complete rate. Who gets fired then?

We can blame the teachers all we want - it's a cheap and cheerful pastime - but at the end of the day, the child goes home. That, in my opinion, based on years of observation, is where the real problem is. What should be done about the under-performing parents?
i graduated from this school in 2008 and am a way more decent adult human being because of it. i also excelled in college because of the critical thinking skills it instilled in me. long live nova.
The NOVA Project has been up and running for over thirty years and it is one of the best things I can point to in Seattle Public Schools. My eldest child attended NOVA for all four years of her high school career and it was a brilliant choice for her. Coming out of APP at Washington she did not want to enter another factory school. She chose NOVA and there she rediscovered her motivation.

NOVA works well for students who like to explore their interests. NOVA students learn to be self-managing. The school is democratically run - everyone gets a vote, the only rule is that students must compose a majority of the voters. Each semester they decide which classes they will offer. Credit is awarded for demonstrations of learning. That demonstration can be an essay, or a project, an action, art, performance, the student autonomously chooses how they will demonstrate their acquisition of the required knowledge or skills. Credit is then awarded based on that demonstration.

The school is a motivation factory. It grants the students all of the elements of motivation: autonomy, the opportunity to achieve mastery, and a sense that they are working in service to a purpose greater than themselves. It is completley different from a conventional high school.

NOVA is, and always has been, a safe place for sexual minorities. While NOVA has a reputation for having one or two types of students, the truth is that there are all kinds of students at NOVA and they form one community in solidarity. It's a beautiful thing. Because the school only has about 350 students, and because the classes are not segregated by grade, the students can all get to know each other. It's the most inclusive school in the district.

And it works. NOVA students regularly have some of the highest SAT scores in the District and every year NOVA graduates move on to competitive colleges, including Ivy League schools.

NOVA graduates are fiercely loyal to the school. They know that NOVA saves lives in twenty different ways every day.
"NOVA graduates are fiercely loyal to the school."

And yet it consistently ranks at the bottom for test scores of basic reading and math in Seattle.

But hey, who needs basic skills when your fragile ego has been rubbed for 4 years?
@5 Citation or it didn't happen. You also might want to Google what the word "average" means.
@9 Might have something to do with their very high rate of special needs students. Refusing to take on special needs students is one way charter schools artificially boost their success rates. It's always a horror show come standardized testing time because ever since Bush's No Child Left Behind even 12 year olds who don't have the cognitive ability to speak or use a pen have to take standardized tests.
@4 It's either that or jail or low wage itinerant jobs for the rest of their lives, soaking up all your tax dollars. Throw money at it early and save.
@6 Possibly by making it possible for them not to live in poverty w/ only one job each, safe housing and access to adequate and competent mental health care? Plus, it turns out there is no system in place to advocate for these kids re: mental health issues when they are younger. Physical health yes, mental health no. So if there are problems, they go untreated until and unless the parent chooses to address them, which of course won't happen and there is no way to reach these kids before school age at all.

Short of forcibly sterilizing people or requiring them to take parenting classes if they want a license to have a child, you can only concentrate on the kid for the time you have them, and hope it goes better with the next generation.
Sped apparently now means any kid with an attitude. In my day, a sped, at a minimum, lack bowel control or used a cane. Now you just have to dye your hair, get a bull ring and call yourself queer and the school district will shower dollars on the poor snow flakes. Meanwhile APP kids can't get APP places.
I'm a graduate from NOVA and have had a very sucessful career and life. NOVA had a lot to do with my sucess. NOVA has never done a good job at promoting itself. Great article, but where's the donate now link? Where do I sign up to give you money?
Troll dear, I'm sorry your child didn't make it into AP, but don't you think it makes you sound petty to blame that on special education?

I'm sure your child will do fine. After all, there's always the University of Phoenix.
Nova is truly a great school. It is proof you can have innovation without charter schools. If the district truly supported it, they would be able to help even more students.

Mark Perry is a treasure as a principal (and one of the coolest cats around).

Nova saves lives.