NOCCA’s Academic Studio combines a rigorous, college- and TOPS-preparatory academic curriculum in an environment that continues developing your child’s artistic talents.
Students are admitted by arts audition – without any regard for past academic performance. In other words, our students in the Academic Studio have a range of reading and math levels when they enter, though a common goal for their graduation: TOPS qualification and college matriculation.
Admission to the Academic Studio
All rising ninth-grade students who have been accepted by audition into a Level I or higher arts discipline are eligible to apply for the Academic Studio. Today, up to 250 of NOCCA’s 600-member student body attend the full-day academic and arts program, while the remainder attend the arts-only conservatory on a half-day basis. Because students are admitted to NOCCA on the basis of their arts audition only, they enter the Academic Studio with a wide range of academic preparation. Within a few years of its conception, NOCCA’s Academic Studio has become one of the top schools in Louisiana that does not screen for academic achievement upon admission. Graduates of the Academic Studio outpace their peers on state and national standardized tests, and garner higher college scholarship offers than the arts-only cohort.
Credits, Requirements and Accreditation
The Academic Studio is fully accredited by the State of Louisiana and recognized by the TOPS University Diploma Program. Over the course of their four years in the Academic Studio, students earn four credits each in World History, English, Science and Math. Students also complete two foreign language credits, choosing from French or Spanish with a classroom teacher. Lastly, if they are not in a movement intensive arts discipline (dance and musical theatre), they take three semester credits of physical education and one semester credit of Health.
Honors Projects and Dual Enrollment
Students who successfully fulfill the expectations of courses at the Honors level will earn Honors credit for the specified course on their high school transcript. The Honors enrichment course expectations are an extension of the core Academic Studio courses’ typical coursework. Students must be in good academic standing to enroll. Honors projects can vary, but often have common components such as completing differentiated assessments, research projects, reading, writing, presentations, teaching their colleagues, round-table discussions, additional assignments or challenge questions, and delving more deeply into an academic subject.
Students may receive college credit for work completed as part of certain Academic Studio courses. Students must be in good academic standing to enroll. The requirements vary by course, but in many cases, little to no additional coursework is required to receive college credit because our courses are inherently structured similarly to college courses. College course for which students have received credit in the past include English Composition, Humanities Special Topics, and Environmental Studies.
Portfolio Project and Academic Symposium
The Student Portfolio Project is the culminating activity at the end of each course. Students take one topic or project that sparks their interest or challenges the way they think, and research or revise further to create a final project that is then presented to their classmates. From there, a small sample of students from each grade are selected by their peers to present to NOCCA and the larger community in the NOCCA Academic Symposium, a day dedicated to showcasing excellent student work.
As an effort to recognize the high demands that are placed upon our students through rigorous arts training and the college preparatory program of Academic Studio, all students have a “Supported Studies” block of time built into their daily schedule. Supported Studies is a time for students to work with faculty in individual or small-group tutorials. Supported Studies can be used to clarify what is not understood, expand to the next level if a student is progressing well, or dive more deeply into subjects of interest.
Block scheduling divides each academic grade-level cohort into two groups, with one group taking humanities and the other sciences before switching mid-morning. Each group includes students from every arts discipline and learning style, allowing for cross-pollination of experiences, approaches and viewpoints. Integrated courses meet daily for 100 minutes each. Midday course time consists of 60 minute courses in either languages, physical education, or supported studies.
Teaching partners work together during several hours of afternoon planning time per week. Faculty are free to use this time in any way they consider most useful, but it is often used for lesson planning, grading, parent meetings, and scheduling of cross-disciplinary/cross-grade-level projects. All faculty in a single grade level meet bi-weekly to confer about student issues, to review Students’ Responses to Intervention (RTI), identify points of connection between courses, and plan integrated projects. In addition, faculty meet weekly to address department-specific concerns and goal-setting.
All Academic Studio students are assigned a faculty member who remains their mentor throughout the student’s time in Academic Studio. Mentor groups meet regularly and act as a safe space to discuss issues, concerns, academic and artistic growth, and joys. Mentors also act as the students’ advocates on campus and often attend their artistic performances.