PLP Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Question:  How do we know when the blue line will move on the This Year page?

    Answer: The blue line is a pacing line that runs from the first day of school to the last day of school. It is controlled by the school’s academic calendar. It is not moved by individual teachers or by the content in a course. It is there as a time management tool and a guide for self-directed learning. While Projects and Focus Areas will turn red when the blue line passes them, this work can still be completed and submitted for a grade.

  2. Questions: What's the difference between a Project and a Focus Area?  Where do I find them?

    Answer: A Project is teacher lead and occurs in class time with a specific content teacher. Projects conclude with a Final Product, a performance, presentation, or product that demonstrates clear evidence of cognitive skills. A Focus Area is a self-contained unit of study that students complete in support of the Projects. Focus Areas concludes with a Content Assessment (a quiz).

  3. Question:  How do we know what Focus Areas my student should be working on?

    Answer: Teachers line up Focus Areas under the Projects that they support. So, while a student can move ahead in Focus Areas at their own speed, they should make sure that they complete the ones that support the current classroom Project. Projects are conducted in class and are teacher lead; Focus Areas are worked on in Spotlight and are student directed.

  4. Questions: There are so many resources listed in a playlist for a Focus Area, how does my student choose which to review?

    Answer: We recommend that students first take the Diagnostic when starting a Focus Area. This will tell them what information they already know and what information is new to them. Students should then begin work on the Playlist (a Playlist refers to the list of work and resources available to students to master the content of a Focus Area. A Playlist usually includes resources for all learning modalities – videos, slide shows, reading, practice work or study guides, online quizzes, etc.). When they feel good about their work, they should take the Diagnostic Assessment again. If they pass all those questions, they should request the Content Assessment.  

  5. Question:  How does my student know when he/she is ready for a Content Assessment?

    Answer: After a student has passed the Diagnostic Assessment and completed what they need to on the Playlist, they tell their Spotlight teacher they are ready. The Spotlight teacher will then go over the prep work a student did to prepare for the assessment and approve them moving forward or suggest ways to continue their learning to be successful when they do take the Content Assessment.

  6. Questions: What does my student do if they take a Content Assessment multiple times and cannot pass?

    Answer: If students have reviewed all the resources in a Playlist and still cannot not pass a Focus Area, it is time for some content intervention with their teacher. They should decide to get a tutoring session from their teacher at lunch or after school. In the new year, teachers will be working on creating intervention groups during Tuesday/Thursday Spotlights.

  7. Question:  What is a Power Focus Area?

    Answer: Students must complete these content specific playlists and master content assessments to receive credit for a course. Power Focus Areas are 21% of course grade. Focus Areas are worked on in Spotlight - they are not teacher directed but student directed. They are self-paced. Students can work at their own speed, but if they fall behind the pacing line, the Focus Area will turn red.

  8. Question:  What is an Additional Focus Area?

    Answer: Students are encouraged, but not required, to complete this content for each course. These add up to 9% of a student's grade in a course and therefore can make a difference of nearly a full letter grade.

  9. Question:  What is a Challenge Focus Area?

    Answer: Students can complete to further their content knowledge, but they do not contribute to a student's grade.

  10. Question:  How do I know if my student is on track?

    Answer: If you look on the This Year screen and see all blue and green colored blocks, your student is on track. The color coding of the PLP allows you to see what areas are complete and on track (blue and green), what areas are currently being worked on (orange) and which areas are behind or incomplete (red).  If you see red, discuss with your student what needs to be completed and help him/her contact the teacher/mentor to be clear about what needs to be accomplished.

  11. Question:  How do I know what my student is supposed to do for homework?

    Answer: Students should first work on any class Projects that are currently being worked on in class. If there is an essay being written in class, students can continue that at home. Students can also work on the Playlists for any Focus Areas. While they cannot take a Content Assessment at home, they can take notes and prepare for the Content Assessment to be taken the following day at school.

  12. Question: What does it mean that there is so much red on my student's This Year page?

    Answer: This is a visual cue that there are Projects and Focus Areas that are behind the pacing line and need to be addressed immediately. Help your student choose one red item and begin working on it.  The more work is completed, the less red there will be.

  13. Question:  What does Incomplete mean?

    Answer: An Incomplete will occur when a student has not completed Projects and/or Focus Areas behind the pacing line.  A student can get rid of an Incomplete by finishing the work in the Project or Focus Area. If a student gets to the end of the year with an Incomplete, he/she will meet with the teacher of that subject to create a plan for the summer to complete the work and get a grade in the class (an individualized summer school plan).  If a student is caught up (all blue and green) to the pacing line but still has an incomplete in class, this means that their grade is below a 70% in the course and the student is failing (grades are A, B, B or F, we do not have a D option).  However, a student has until the end of the year to make up any low cog skills and raise their grade.

  14. Question:  Where can I see which questions I got wrong on the Content Assessment?

    Answer: After completing a Content Assessment a report pops up in the right-hand corner of the screen which tells the student’s overall score (must get at least 8/10 to “pass”) and how many questions in each objective category the student got right on the test.  The report does not however explain which specific questions the student missed.

  15. Question:  How do I turn in ("submit") work to my teacher?

    Answer:  Each project has a place to turn in the “Final Product(s)” at the top of the page for that project. If there are two (or more) products for a project, a student should not push submit until all the products for that project are done.  In a project only your final product will be graded for cog skills.  However a teacher may request that students “submit for feedback” on Checkpoints, the feedback does not affect the grade it is simply a teaching tool.  


Independent Study Contract form here

PLP Parent Education Presentation (November 2016)

College Prep Parent Education Presentation (March 2017)

Discomfort, Growth and Innovation

Alyssa Tormala (

Foster a culture of successful innovation by empathizing with fellow educators who are uncomfortable with risk, modeling a growth mindset, and celebrating effort as well as success.