SPARC Institute

In the fall of 2021, Chestnut Hill Academy will open the SPARC Institute.  We will expand from the coordination of resources through SPARC to include the piloting of a first-grade classroom for gifted scholars. The SPARC Institute will support the unique needs of gifted students by providing interest-based learning organized by understanding key concepts, principles, and skills of subject domains, and present those in ways that cause highly capable students to wonder and grasp, and extend their reach. This is founded on a core principle that the measure of progress, growth, and betterment lies within the competition with oneself, and not in benchmarking against others.  

Application Guidelines and Procedures - Admission for 1st Grade Fall of 2021 

Thank you for your interest in The SPARC Institute for the 2021 – 2022 academic year. The following standards and procedures will apply to your students’ initial application to our program. 

There are four key criteria that must be met for basic program eligibility: 

  1. Eligibility for 2020 – 2021 is limited to students entering the 1st Grade.
  2. Documentation must be provided showing that the student has taken the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-IV) evaluation. For students age 6 and older we also accept the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V). In both cases, a complete testing report must be submitted.
  3. Test scores on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale should meet or exceed the 97th percentile.
  4. All testing should be completed by a certified or licensed psychologist and be dated within two years of your SPARC Institute application described below. 

SPARC Institute Application - Families of current Kindergarten students can apply to the SPARC Institute here. Parents will also need to get their child’s current teacher to complete a Teacher Recommendation Form.

For 2020 – 2021, please follow the instructions below when completing your application: 

  • Please take a moment to explore our website, where many common questions are addressed, and key resources are listed.
  • Complete your online application
    • The required testing results should be emailed to [email protected] to accompany your application.
    • Please request and upload a letter of recommendation from your child’s current teacher. Form available here. (link coming soon)

The deadline for applications for The SPARC Institute is January 22nd, 2021. The deadline to submit testing is February 26th, 2021. Applications will be reviewed in February, and our acceptance decisions will be shared with the applicant’s family on March 3rd, 2021. 

FAQ’s About the Program

Q. What if my child does not meet the minimum criteria for the 1st Grade gifted classroom?

A. Our goal is to meet the needs of all students at Chestnut Hill Academy. Our general education teachers have continued access to accelerated curriculum and resources and will continue to differentiate instruction regardless of a student’s participation in the SPARC Institute. Further, our baseline SPARC program provides accommodations and academic opportunities to all students with an identified need for support or enrichment based on their psycho-educational assessment. 

Q. How many first-grade students will participate in the gifted classroom?

A. For the fall of 2021, we will host 15 students in a self-contained 1st Grade classroom. Students will have a dedicated teacher, will rotate with the general student body to Specialists classes, and maintain the standard schedule, excepting that they will not rotate for core classes. 

Q. Can we opt-out of participation in the SPARC Institute even if our child meets the criteria?

A. Yes, we understand that some families would like their highly capable child to remain in a classroom with a broader spectrum of learners. In these cases, prospective families would only need to complete the standard Chestnut Hill Academy admissions application. Current CHA families who have a child who meets the criteria but would like to remain in the general classroom would only need to submit their recurring contract for the 2021-2022 school year. 

Q. Will you share the names of other students participating in the SPARC Institute?

A. As is traditional at Chestnut Hill Academy, class placements for all grades are posted at the Ice Cream Social at the start of the academic school year. The class list for the 1st Grade SPARC Institute classroom will also be shared at this time. 

Q. When will more details regarding the SPARC Institute be shared?

A. Further information regarding our program will be shared at the SPARC orientation on May 5th. The invitation to register for the SPARC orientation will be sent out closer to the event. 

Q. How will the SPARC Institute differ from a 1st Grade general education classroom?

A. Building upon the rigor, exceptional academic standards, and leadership focus of our general education classrooms, The SPARC Institute will offer a highly differentiated and accelerated curriculum. This curriculum will allow high achievers to remain challenged through curricula extensions, research projects, and enhanced opportunities to develop critical thinking skills while fostering creativity. With a singular focus on developing the whole child, each student will take a partnering role in setting the pace and intensity of their academic program. A student’s readiness, interests, and learning profile shape instruction. The instruction includes activities for multiple intelligences and flexible grouping is used for instruction. The development of student potential is encouraged, and students are assessed in accordance with their abilities. 

Q. Will there be a tuition increase associated with the SPARC Institute?

A. There is no additional fee to be part of the SPARC institute. The tuition cost will be in line with the standard 1st Grade tuition for the 2021-2022 academic year.