Ascent Academies of Utah (AAU) network of schools combines the Schoolwide Enrichment Model’s (SEM) research-based strategies with the Core Knowledge Sequence and instructional methods aligned to the Utah Core Standards in order to provide students throughout the network with engaging learning opportunities; this network of schools was specifically designed to:

  • Create opportunities for students to pursue questions of personal interest to them (SEM).
  • Create an environment where teachers have the training and experience to deliver AAU’s academic program, to help students find resources and mentors, to find audiences and outlets, and to help students focus their abilities on solving problems in areas that have personal relevance to the student. This learning environment will be created and supported through focused professional development, cross-campus professional collaboration, and ongoing training/support (professional learning communities); and
  • Provide information (context) and thinking processes in an integrated, inductive, and real-problem-oriented manner (Core Knowledge Sequence).

It is the unique combination of SEM, Core Knowledge, and strong professional learning communities that sets AAU apart from other schools. Both SEM and Core Knowledge recognize the need for high academic standards, equity in education, and strategies and content that promote learning for all students.

AAU’s academic program is grounded in the following elements:

  • Research-based;
  • Standards outlined and aligned to the Utah Core in each specific content area;
  • Materials are available to students and parents in both electronic and written formats; and
  • Supplemental resources support a tiered model of instruction with interventions outlined for each specific tier.

Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM)

The Schoolwide Enrichment Model is described by Dr. Renzulli, its founder, as a detailed blueprint for total school improvement that allows each school the flexibility to develop its own unique programs based on local resources, student demographics, and school dynamics as well as faculty strengths and creativity. Although this research-based model is founded on highly successful practices that originated in special programs for the gifted and talented students, its goal is to promote both challenging and enjoyable high-end learning across a wide range of school types, levels and demographic differences.

Core Knowledge

Ascent Academies of Utah utilizes the Core Knowledge Sequence as its base curriculum as well as additional research-based programs and curriculum that support the mission and vision. The sequence places a strong emphasis on mastering fundamental skills and concepts as well as ensuring a common knowledge of the history, contributions traditions and perspectives of other cultures in society.

The Core Knowledge Sequence is predicated on the realization that what children are able to learn at any given moment depends on what they already know and, equally important that what they know is a function of previous experience and teaching. Explicit identification of what children should learn at each grade level ensures a coherent approach to building knowledge across all grade levels (Core Knowledge website, 2012).

Belief Statements

  • Students learn best when they are engaged in activities that expand their interest and build on their individual talents.
  • Multiple campuses with similar programs enhance student outreach, special education programs, effectiveness of high-quality teachers, teacher and director professional development, and peer interaction through technology (for both students and staff).
  • Parent involvement in identifying student interests and supporting the school community is vital to a successful learning environment.