Overall Design

At Lighthouse Community Public Schools we are deeply committed to transforming the landscape of education for historically underserved students in Oakland. We know that an exceptional education brings out each child’s unique light and potential, but that inequity in our public schools severely limits the potential of our students, their families, and the future of Oakland. We are an innovative model for public education that puts each child at the center of their own learning. Our work is driven by our Theory of Change, which states our belief that all young people have the potential to become lifelong changemakers who realize their unique vision — rooted in their identity, knowledge, and skills — to create equity in their own lives and in the community, leading to a healthier, more joyful world.

To ensure that our schools give students access to critical tools and knowledge to succeed in college and beyond, our educational program is based on the following LCPS Instructional Stances: learning is purposeful, relationship-based, and learner-driven, defined as:

  • Purposeful: Purposeful learning is driven by essential questions that allow students to create life-worthy understandings; learning inspires insight, opportunity, integrity, and action. Students build toward authentic products. Products are modeled on real-world formats, are shared with a real-world audience, and aim to impact our communities. Learning is measured using an expanded definition of achievement, including knowledge and skills, character, and high-quality work. Learning is deep, rather than broad. While we don’t aim to cover all content, we also don’t choose to focus on one topic at the expense of all others. And learning is standards-based. We build from the standards and create curricular coherence within and across classes. We structure learning to ensure that all learners can meet high standards.
  • Relationship-Based: Relationship-based learning is joyful. We create the physical and emotional safety necessary for students to take risks. Learning is rooted in our community and our students’ identities. We teach people. We build relationships. Our teaching builds, and builds on, our students’ identities. Learning supports students to create healthy relationships and develop collaborative skills. Learning happens in community. Students construct understanding both collaboratively and in solitude, and they communicate that understanding with each other.
  • Learner-Driven: Learning is inquiry-based and driven by complex problems. Teachers and students use questions to guide and facilitate understanding. Learners construct their own understanding. We provide structure so that learners are engaged in the hard, messy work of learning. Learners do the heavy lifting. Learning opens doors for people to make choices and explore their passions. The learning is driven by student-engaged assessment. Learners set goals, monitor progress, communicate, and reflect. Learning is personalized (which for us, does not mean computerized). We use data to design and dynamically adjust learning experiences based on learner needs, strengths, approaches, and curiosities. Learners work towards mastery in different ways.

Our Program

The academic program at Lighthouse Community Public Schools helps us enable all students to meet the State’s challenging academic and performance standards. Our schools have the following program elements and associated instructional practices, which reflect our instructional stances:

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K-12 and relatively small (~800 students total in each school)

At Lighthouse Community Public Schools, students and families are known well and supported academically and socio-emotionally. Character development is a consistent focus K-12; our Core Values of Community, Social Justice, Agency, Love, and Integrity are embedded in everything that we do. Restorative Justice practices shift focus from punishment to learning and from the individual student to the community. Building a strong, K-12 school culture allows all students in our community to reach our high expectations. We also partner closely with families to better support students through 13 years of school in preparation for college and beyond.

All students participate in advisories, what we call “Crews”

The structure of Crew allows for relationship-building, academic progress-monitoring and character development. Crew allows students to be well known and supported by adults in small groups. The Crew leader is the primary advocate for his or her Crew as individuals and as a collective.

Project-Based Learning

We partner with the EL Education Network (a school reform network focused on project-based learning and character development) to support curriculum design and provide professional development around Learning Expeditions (long-term, in-depth studies which offer real-world connections that inspire students towards higher levels of academic achievement). Students produce authentic products that serve a real need in the community. Off-campus learning experiences, called Fieldwork, include elements of adventure (i.e. any physical, artistic, or intellectual experience that involves risk, challenge, and self-discovery). Every adventure has a strong element of entering the unknown and not being certain of the outcome. These experiences create opportunities for leadership and collaboration as groups of students and teachers face challenges together.

Student-engaged assessment practices

All units and lessons are designed with Learning Targets (learning goals) to help students know where they are in the learning process. Student-led conferences, EXPOs of student work (where students spend an evening presenting and celebrating their learning with an audience of their peers, family and broader community), and passage presentations (demonstrating preparedness to move to the next grade level) all support students to reflect on their learning and set personal goals.

Self-Directed Learning time

Students at Lighthouse Community Public Schools move through some subjects in personalized ways. Students need time and space to learn about things that they are interested in, as they respond to the question: “What problem do you want to solve today?” Through a learning process that includes goal-setting, work plan development, reflection, adult support, and public sharing of learning, students can have agency in their learning. This time gives students voice in and direction over curriculum, such as in the Creativity Lab, where students design and create projects based on their interests and passions.


We know that students thrive when they have creativity/making, art, music, language, and other enrichments built into their school day. All Lighthouse Community Public Schools students have periods of their day where they can pursue their passions, collaborate, and work creatively.


All students at LCPS are actively involved in their communities through Fieldwork (connecting their learning to hands-on experiences in the community), internships, and service learning opportunities. Integrated into academic classes, Crew, and extracurricular activities, these experiences help students apply their learning to real-life situations while having a positive impact on their families, friends, and neighborhoods.

College-Bound Curriculum

Students of all ages develop the habits of scholarship (e.g., self-monitoring, problem solving) that they need to navigate the academic and social demands of college. Core academic skills such as research skills and analytic thinking are taught in every subject area and at all grade levels to prepare students for the complexities of college-level texts. Students in grades K-8 have access to the courses and opportunities that prepare them for a college-bound high school curriculum. High school students develop the content knowledge and skills necessary for college by taking a demanding college preparatory curriculum that is aligned to A-G subject requirements.

Creating a College-Bound Culture

Teachers and school leaders make it clear to all students that they are on a path to college and a career of their choice. LCPS students meet the A-G requirements that make them eligible to attend a four-year college. LCPS also supports with college and career exploration and admissions. Crew leaders help students make course selections connected to college and career aspirations, monitor progress toward academic and character learning targets, and collaborate closely with the College Adviser and Internship Coordinator and families to help students choose colleges and navigate applications for admission, financial aid, and scholarships.

Where Oakland Shines