Accelerated Learning Laboratory is a name that has been gaining national attention for its academic performance. Due to its small size, however, many Tucsonans might be surprised to hear that this nationally recognized school is a local charter school with open, tuition free admission.
Founded by idealistic educators in 1998, A.L.L. is a school that grounds its curriculum in cognitive science. A.L.L. believes that any student is capable of academic success if he or she is simply given the right opportunity. As such, the school’s focus is giving each student endless, daily opportunities to excel.
A walk through campus reveals the school’s passionate environment. Classes are relatively small, usually no more than twenty to a class. Advanced classes, which comprise most of the course options, contain students as young as 4th grade, working confidently with their high school peers. Students are seen speaking Chinese, and many have been on the school’s annual trip to China. Foundational math, English, and science are delivered in classes which are driven by the students’ curiosity. These rooms echo with the students’ voices, as they pose questions and peers exclaim their offered responses. Later during “break,” teachers are in their rooms, tutoring students to ensure that each one succeeds.
This week, for example, a person could walk onto campus at any hour of the day and find it overflowing with energy. After placing second in last year’s Science Olympiad, the teams are making final preparations for this year’s competition. Students are tuning handmade instruments, building planes, and becoming experts in various scientific fields. It wouldn’t be unusual to find the older students literally camping in the library, refusing to waste the time required to go home and sleep. This is the passion and motivation that A.L.L. cultivates.
Students don’t attend A.L.L. if they’re simply looking for a passive, easy way to gain their diploma. They undertake A.L.L.’s intellectually challenging workload because it gives them full control of their academic careers. A.L.L. students score well on numerous Advanced Placement exams well before entering high school, which helps them earn admission to top universities. The walls of the school’s office are lined with acceptance letters earned by previous graduates; most letters bear the logos of competitive, often Ivy League universities. Once in college, A.L.L. graduates continue to do well, gaining competitive scholarships and speeding through their degree programs.
At A.L.L., the work load is challenging, but its students find that accepting the challenge is always rewarding, and, to their surprise, addicting and enjoyable.