About Our School

About Our School

Prescott Elementary School opened the doors of the new school at 1151 White Street in 2006, as one of the first ten charter schools in the state of Iowa. Since that time, Prescott has had its charter school status reauthorized by the Iowa Board of Education twice, and is currently the only elementary charter school in Iowa. When Prescott’s application for charter status was submitted to the state of Iowa in 2006, the school was required to identify the planned innovative approaches in teaching and learning that would be the instituted if charter status was granted. Prescott staff selected to become an Expeditionary Learning School with a commitment to adding a strong, infusion of the arts to the curriculum. Expeditionary Learning is a comprehensive school reform model that has been implemented throughout the country. Therefore, as an Expeditionary Learning School, we are partners with other schools across the country who are focused on school reform to improve learning for all students.

Innovative Approaches:

Expeditionary Learning: Since opening as a charter school in 2006, Prescott School has implemented Expeditionary Learning. The Expeditionary Learning framework is a comprehensive design that transforms curriculum, instruction, assessment, and school culture and organization to enable all students to achieve at a high level.


  • Curriculum: Prescott teaches the curriculum identified in the Iowa Core and in Dubuque Community School District’s standards and benchmarks through three major learning expeditions at each grade level. Each learning expedition is a multi-disciplinary, thematic, in-depth study of learning. One learning expedition is the primary focus of the trimester’s learning at each grade level. The learning expeditions are built primarily around themes from the science and social studies standards of the Dubuque Community School District, although there are some themes from other disciplines. Within each learning expedition, a strong emphasis is placed on the integration of not only science and social studies, but also reading, writing, speaking, the arts, character development and service. If there are specific standards and benchmarks that do not naturally fit into the expeditions, these subjects are taught in a more contained learning experience and are not forced to fit into the expedition.


  • Instruction: The learning expeditions require the students to take an active role in discovering the answers to the guiding questions of each expedition. Protocols and instructional strategies that foster student engagement are central to the delivery of content.


  • Assessment: Assessment takes many of the traditional forms, but Expeditionary Learning also places a great emphasis on performance assessments. Students are active participants in the assessment process. Students are required to share their learning with a public audience at the end of each trimester at a Celebration of Learning. The Celebrations of Learning vary in the way that students demonstrate their learning. Demonstrations vary from a musical production, to portfolio sharing, to the creation of a museum, to teaching their parents and guests at stations. Learning targets are posted for all lessons, and students and teachers continually measure their progress of learning against the targets.


  • School Culture: The school day is structured so that all classes begin their day with a Morning Meeting. During the Morning Meeting ALL support staff are assigned to classes on rotating monthly basis. During Morning Meeting, social skills and the 10 Design Principles of Expeditionary Learning are explicitly taught and practiced. Each Morning Meeting involves students being greeted, an activity, and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the Prescott Promise. The Prescott Promise is a shared vision of expectations for the character traits we all promise to develop. Twice each month, the school community comes together for what is called our Dolphin Gathering. The Dolphin Gathering provides a public forum for students to share their learning through performance for an authentic audience and celebration of student achievements Opportunities for students to be engaged in service are integrated into the learning expeditions. Students are encouraged to demonstrate their understanding of the Steps to Success and the Design Principles through their service to others. Community mentors and community experts help students to see the connection between school and the real world.


  • School Organization: Teachers and students stay together for two years: kindergarten and first, second and third, and fourth and fifth. This “looping” helps to develop stronger connections among the teacher, the students, and the families. We also have teamed special education teachers to co-teach with general education teachers as much as possible. In our second and third grades, co-teaching takes place on a full-time basis. Because of this co-teaching, the individual needs of all students are differentiated right within the classroom. The expertise of both instructors is utilized to meet student needs. We also have structured our schedule so that the arts instructors collaborate and co-teach with the general education teacher and utilize their areas of expertise to support the classroom curriculum.


Arts Infusion and Extensive Arts Programming Beyond the School Day:

Prescott has infused the arts (visual arts, music, drama, and dance) into the learning expeditions and has dramatically increased the number of opportunities students have to participate in enrichment classes for the arts. Each learning celebration highlights one aspect of the arts and an arts specialist is assigned to support the grade level as it incorporates the arts into the expedition. Just as concepts from the various arts are used to help to teach the content areas, the art concepts are taught within the content from other curricular areas. Arts specialists co-teach with general education teachers. Not only did we increase the inclusion of the arts into the curriculum, we also dramatically increased arts programming opportunities for students beyond the school day.