McAuliffe is one of over 200 Expeditionary Learning Expeditionary Learning schools in the country. As a member of the EL network, McAuliffe's program and operations are aligned with the EL Core Practices. There are five categories of core practices: Curriculum, Instruction, Culture and Character, Assessment, and Leadership.

McAuliffe’s program follows EL Education’s three core ideas for scholar achievement: Mastery of Knowledge and Skills, Character, and High Quality Work. EL is known for a focus on team-building and learning in the natural world, as well as creating authentic learning experiences.

Central to EL is a focus on guiding scholars through their own learning utilizing highly engaging curriculum and instruction, habits of work and learning, and much more. To learn more about how McAuliffe implements the EL model in our instruction, please visit our What is EL Education? page.

Curriculum and Instruction

McAuliffe’s curriculum is organized into units of study called Learning Expeditions. Information about the elements of learning expeditions, as well as examples of past expeditions, can be found on our Learning Expeditions page.

McAuliffe’s teachers use instructional practices that promote rigorous learning expectations, ensuring that all scholars think and participate, and allowing teachers to understand each scholar’s learning needs.

McAuliffe teachers promote critical thinking by asking that scholars make connections, articulate patterns and relationships, understand diverse perspectives, give evidence for inferences and conclusions, and generalize to the big ideas of the discipline studied. Classes are inclusive settings where general and special educators co-teach in order to differentiate instruction and hold the bar high for all scholars. To learn more about how we endeavor to meet every scholar’s needs, please visit our Student Services page.

Assessment

McAuliffe is a targets-based grading school with ratings Beginning, Approaching, Meeting, and Exceeding. We believe in a growth mindset approach to grading. McAuliffe grades on a continuum so scholars see there is always room for improvement. Rather than “getting” grades like A’s or B’s, scholars meet or don’t meet, approach, or are beginning to meet learning targets. Our content-specific long-term and short-term learning targets provide scholars with a concrete pathway for their learning so they can see where they are going and how they can get there.  

In our standards-based grading system, Habits Of Work and Learning (HOWLs) are assessed separately from other learning targets. By distinguishing these essential habits from academic achievement, teachers, scholars, and families have a clear sense of scholar’s strengths and needs. McAuliffe HOWLs are aligned with the school’s core values: Perseverance, Responsibility, Inquiry, and Collaboration. More on McAuliffe’s HOWLs and our implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports can be found on our Culture and Character page.