Frequently Asked Questions
What is a charter public school?
Charter public schools are an important part of Massachusetts public school system. They are tuition free and have an enrollment process that treats all students equally. Charter public schools operate under five-year “charters” granted by the Commonwealth’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. These agreements allow charter public schools to operate independently from the local school district in order to have greater flexibility in how they approach key areas of school life, including: curriculum design, staffing, teacher leadership, professional development, and school culture. Charter public schools are accountable to a range of stakeholders. They are managed by public boards of trustees, abide by all the same laws and rules that district schools do, and are overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, which renews their charters every five years. Charter public schools are often proposed and established by teachers, school leaders, parents, and other members of the community. In Massachusetts, charter public schools are focused on: teachers and classrooms, the unique learning needs of children, achieving results on behalf of kids, and ensuring educational equity for all students.
What are the hours?
Students can enter at 8:00am, though many students arrive earlier and wait in the protected entryway. School begins at 8:30 a.m and ends at 3:40 p.m., except for Wednesdays when school ends at 1:30 p.m. The early release on Wednesdays allows CCSC faculty and staff to work collaboratively on ways to continuously improve instruction, curriculum, and special programs. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, faculty are available in After School Learning Centers from 3:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., where students go for extra help or to find a quiet place to complete their homework.
What is the school calendar?
CCSC follows the same 180-day school calendar as Cambridge Public Schools, with a few notable exceptions: our first two days of school are before Labor Day, we have two professional development days at the end of the first semester when students do not have school, and the winter vacation is always two full weeks.
Do you provide transportation? What about T passes?
Cambridge residents in grades 6-8 who live more than 1.5 miles from the school are provided bus transportation to and from school free of charge. CCSC is located in Kendall Square, within easy walking distance to both the Red and Green Line trains. Students may purchase subsidized monthly MBTA passes from the school. In addition to public transportation, many families drive their children to school and pick them up.
Does CCSC have a dress code?
Yes, CCSC students wear a collared white, red, or black shirt without a logo or a logoless white, red, or black sweater. Boys and girls must wear khaki or black pants with a belt around the waist. Students are also allowed to wear CCSC sweatshirts, sweaters, and jackets.
Do you serve the students breakfast? Lunch?
CCSC serves a catered breakfast and lunch, which is available to all students free of charge every single day of the school year.
Is the school safe for my child?
Yes, CCSC is a safe school and we take the safety of every member of our community very seriously. We have a strong anti-bullying policy and every student at CCSC is known well by their teachers, staff members, and the school’s leadership team. CCSC is located in Kendall Square, which is a safe neighborhood. CCSC is located next to the Cambridge Police Department.
What about class size? Will my child get the instruction they need?
Class sizes typically range from 16 to 22 students. The teacher to student ratio is approximately one teacher for every ten students. The quality of teaching is excellent at CCSC.
My daughter is smart, will she be challenged here?
Yes! Every single CCSC class has an honors option available to all students. In the upper grades, we offer many Advanced Placement course options - including English, calculus, history, Spanish, biology, and computer science. Over 70% of CCSC’s juniors and seniors take at least one AP course, with many taking two or three per school year. Our outstanding college acceptance rates are evidence that colleges recognize and appreciate CCSC’s rigorous academic program.
My son struggles with school work? How can you help him?
CCSC is small and we get to know individual students extremely well. We give personalized attention to every child. For those who need or want additional support, After School Learning Centers help ensure that every student is successful.
What about homework?
CCSC has extremely high academic standards. Middle School students have roughly one hour of homework every night, with assignments to complete on weekends and during vacation. High School students have 1.5 to 2 hours of homework per night. All assignments are posted nightly to teacher webpages and grades are updated at least once weekly, so that students, as well as parents and guardians, can view them.
What is the student code of conduct or behavior policy?
CCSC’s code of conduct is contained in the Student & Family Handbook, which is available in multiple languages online. Students are held to professional standards and rules to ensure that the learning environment is safe, distraction-free, joy-filled, and engaging.
Does CCSC have sports teams?
Of course! CCSC is a member of the Massachusetts Charter School Athletic Organization, allowing us to compete at a high level with schools similarly committed to fielding teams of scholar athletes. We have middle school, junior varsity, and varsity teams. Come out and see one of our teams in action! For more information, click here.
What other programs does CCSC offer for my child?
CCSC offers many different extracurricular options for students in all grades. For more information, click here.
What are Roundtables?
Roundtables are a core component of CCSC’s culture and curriculum. At the end of every academic year, all 6th-11th grade students are required to successfully complete a Roundtable presentation. In this presentation, students share their reflections on their learning over the past year with their family, CCSC adults, and members of the local community. Roundtables provide students with the opportunity to publicly present their learning, thereby developing self-reflection and strong presentation skills - both of which are critical underpinnings of success in college and beyond.
What is the Senior Internship Program?
All CCSC students are required to fulfill a 100-hour internship in the spring semester of their senior year in order to graduate. Students intern with local businesses, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions in Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston. This experience provides CCSC graduates with a meaningful, real-world experience in a professional setting. For more information, click here.
What is Summer Academy?
Summer Academy is a three-week program that new CCSC students attend the summer prior to their first year at the school. It allows students to get to know each other and CCSC faculty and staff, while also honing their academic skills and learning more about the school’s culture. Summer Academy helps new students adjust to life at CCSC and be better prepared to hit the ground running when the school year begins in August.
Who are Advisors? What is Advisory and why do you have it?
Upon entering CCSC, all students receive a faculty advisor, who remains with them through graduation. Advisors serve as a coach, counselor, and mentor - celebrating students’ successes and proactively helping address academic, social, and personal challenges. Advisors and advisees check in daily and students can always go to their Advisor with questions or concerns. In addition, we also schedule time during the school day for Advisory four times a week. During this half-hour period, advisors and advisees meet as a group. In many ways, Advisory becomes a student’s school family and makes an already small school even smaller.
What’s the best thing my child is going to read this year?
It depends what grade they’re in and what they’re interested in! Humanities faculty work to ensure that texts are relevant and represent diverse voices. Our school library is filled with high-interest texts across all levels - ranging from classics to graphic novels to science fiction - that students check out during the school year. Students are often so engrossed in what they’re reading that we’ll “catch” them with their head in a book during lunch!
What one value is at the heart of your school’s culture, and how does that show up on a daily basis?
Our core values are Commitment, Citizenship, Scholarship, and Courage. However, the value at the heart of CCSC is Community. CCSC is small. The relationships developed here are strong and powerful. Our alums regularly come back to the school to visit former teachers and advise their younger peers. Some of our alums are even teachers and staff members at the school. We often hear from students and adults that the school feels like family.
On a typical day, how much time will be spent on morning announcements, attendance-taking, and standing in lines?
Great question! Morning announcements are delivered during morning meeting, which is the first class of the school day and lasts seven minutes. During this time, advisors check in with individual students and read the day’s announcements -- about upcoming events, athletic competitions, spirit days, extracurricular opportunities, and more.
Attendance is taken every class period as we believe it is important to know where students are at all time. Faculty take attendance while students are working to avoid losing any instructional time.
Our school is a vibrant community. We do not expect, or want, our hallways to be silent. They are joyous and filled with chatter and youthful energy, which is a good thing! You may see CCSC students standing in lines outside of their classrooms before the class period begins so that their teachers can welcome them at the door with a handshake, high-five, or other check-in.
How will you know if my child is bored to tears and, if that happens, what’s your usual response?
We do not hear from parents and guardians that their child is bored. As noted above, every single CCSC class has an honors option. Our teachers focus on providing content at multiple levels (differentiating instruction) to ensure that every student is being challenged appropriately. We create our own curriculum, ensuring that it is relevant and engaging. If it is possible to move a student to a more challenging class, we do. After students are admitted via blind lottery, we use diagnostic testing to place them in the correct courses.
How frequently should I expect to hear updates about how my child is doing?
We pride ourselves on the amount of communication we provide to families. We send reports home every four to five weeks. At the end of every quarter, all families receive a phone call from their child’s advisor to check in on academic, social, and behavioral progress. The middle and high school principals frequently reach out to families as well.
If I email with a question or concern, how quickly should I expect to hear back?
Within one day, though emails to members of the leadership team or staff are normally responded to within an hour or two. Teachers spend large chunks of the day in front of students, so their ability to respond quickly is more limited. Our receptionists answer every phone call and direct them based on the nature of the question or concern. If someone is unavailable when a parent calls, we get back in touch quickly and have a reputation for being extremely responsive.
What’s the most important thing I can do to help my child be academically successful this year?
We welcome parent and guardian support, believing deeply that students are most successful when coordination and communication between home and school is consistent and clear. We welcome your help in making sure that students come to school on time with completed homework, a positive attitude, and ready to take on the school day. We appreciate when families reinforce the importance of doing well academically and support students in various ways. We hope parents and guardians find our school welcoming and encourage families to actively partner with us.