High School graduation and post-secondary education are the surest pathways to a stable and fulfilling life. At University Prep Academy, we believe that it is the responsibility of a great school district to partner with families, to provide students with everything they need to graduate and succeed in post-secondary education. We strongly believe that all students can succeed, given personalized education and a relentless commitment to their success. We have studied successful schools around the country and around the world, and have drawn upon their lessons to shape the University Prep model, a clear alternative to the mass produced, factory-based model of most urban schools.




Research shows that students learn best when the learning activities focus on real-world issues and problems. This finding guides the selection of all curriculum materials and programs at UPA. Whenever possible, we select the materials and approaches that give our students the opportunity to apply concepts and skills in real-life situations. At the High School level, all students participate in internships each year, connecting their academic learning to work in the real world.


Each student brings different learning styles, interests, and levels of skill to school. UPA staff work with each student and family to create individual plans that fit the needs of the individual student and assure his or her success. A Learning Team, composed of the student, parent or guardian, and teacher/advisor, meets multiple times each year to design and monitor each student’s Learning Plan.


Curiosity, focus, and effort are critical to student learning. UPA uses personal relationships, a culture of success, integration of technology, and interest-based projects to ensure strong student engagement.


When learning is fun, learners invest much more energy and imagination in getting through the hard work.


To prepare students for success in college and beyond, learning must result in the mastery of basic skills and concepts in reading, writing, mathematics, science, social studies, and critical thinking. The UPA curriculum has been designed to achieve the benchmarks set out in the State of Michigan Curriculum Framework and the ACT College Readiness standards.


We do our best work in communities of people who demand our best, support our efforts, and appreciate our results. The UPA model has many design features to build and maintain strong relationships between and among students, parents, and teachers including small schools, small class sizes, working with a primary teacher/advisor for multiple years, and individual Learning Team meetings. All UPA teachers/advisors give their personal contact information to students and parents, and encourage calls outside of school hours whenever necessary.


Being able to think, talk, write, and speak about what we are learning is crucial to becoming the self-directed learner that is demanded for success in college and the world of work. All UPA students, from kindergarten through the 12th grade, present public exhibitions of their work several times each year. These presentations showcase examples of their work, descriptions of what they have learned from their work, and goals for future learning.

Monitoring and Intervention

The most successful schools closely monitor student progress and intervene immediately when students struggle. UPA uses multiple measures that include state achievement tests, the Measures of Academic Progress, ACT practice tests, and a wide variety of classroom-based and building-based assessments to monitor student achievement. The results of these measures are reviewed continuously throughout each school year and are used to identify students in need of supplementary instruction. All UPA schools have designed robust supplementary instructional programs that involve additional learning opportunities offered within the school day, after school, and throughout the summer.


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