Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does a charter school differ from a regular public school?

Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools, by state law, are allowed to set their own programmatic vision and decide how they want to allocate their allotted budget under the oversight of a local governance structure (or board), as opposed to public schools within a school district whose program and some portion of their budget allocation is determined by the district. Making Waves Academy’s charter authorizer is the Contra Costa County Office of Education. The authorizer provides monitoring and oversight to make sure there is adherence to specific guidelines and expectations laid out in the charter, allowing the school to use site-based management and governance while teaching to approved California State standards. Charters must seek renewal from their authorizer every five years. Authorizers are more likely to renew charters that are proven to be effective in helping their students meet both the expectations described in the charter and the statewide standards for student achievement. As a public school, charters are measured by their academic performance on California state tests (which are published and open to the public on the California Department of Education website: Schools not meeting adequate growth targets for all demographic student subgroups can be placed in Program Improvement.

How are charter schools funded?

As a public school, charters receive a mix of state, local, and federal monies based on the number of students they have. Like other public schools, charter schools receive funding based on Average Daily Attendance (ADA). MWA, like many other charter schools, is also a federally and state recognized not-for-profit, allowing people to contribute money and in-kind services while receiving a tax exemption for their gifts. While a significant portion of MWA’s funding comes from public funding, another significant portion comes from charitable contributions, public and private grants, and fundraising.

Does MWA require all of its teachers to be credentialed?

Yes. As a California public school, all teachers of core academic subjects at Making Waves Academy (MWA) must be properly credentialed and certificated. We work with faculty to ensure all MWA teachers meet the standard of a “highly qualified” teacher.

Are there opportunities to play team sports at MWA?

Yes. The Upper School offers an interscholastic athletic program. Making Waves Academy (MWA) is part of the Bay Counties League East (BCL-East), which is part of the larger Bay Area Conference (BAC), as well as the North Coast Section (NCS), governed by the statewide California Interscholastic Federation (CIF). As members, students must be academically eligible to participate. The sports we offer are: Boys Soccer, Girls Volleyball, Co-Ed Cross Country (Fall); Girls Basketball, Boys Basketball (Winter); Girls Soccer, Boys Baseball, Girls Softball, Co-Ed Track (Spring).

What other sorts of extracurriculars are offered at MWA?

Students can participate in student leadership, dance, art, Latin, and a variety of different clubs and activities in both the Middle School and Upper School.

What are the typical school hours for students?

Students can arrive as early as 7:30 am. Breakfast is served at 7:45 am. Instruction begins at 8:10 am. The core academic day ends at 3:30 pm. Students enrolled in the Middle School CHOICE program receive additional academic support and enrichment and stay until 6:00 pm. Students in the Student Support Program in the Upper School stay to receive additional academic support and general Study Hall until 5:30 pm. There is early dismissal on Fridays for all students at 2:00 pm.

What makes MWA unique?

Making Waves Academy (MWA) aims to help students not merely enter, but graduate from college, and with as little debt as possible, and helps them achieve this outcome by providing financial resources, social-emotional training, and coaching throughout their affiliation with the organization.

How do I enroll my child?

Students currently in the fourth grade must apply to the lottery for entry to Making Waves Academy in the fifth grade. Applications are announced and distributed in the spring. Students chosen in the lottery are either accepted or put on a wait list in the order in which their lottery number was called. Listed below are groups given priority for enrollment through the lottery process as stated and approved in our charter:

    • Current fourth grade students who are siblings of students who have been or are enrolled in the Making Waves Academy or Making Waves Education Program. A sibling is defined as a biological/adoptive sibling, step sibling, or foster child residing within the same household
    • Fourth grade students who are currently enrolled in Title I schools in the West Contra Costa Unified School District, and/or qualify as Title I due to eligibility for Free or Reduced Price Meals while attending a school in the West Contra Costa Unified School District
    • Current fourth grade students who attend other schools in the West Contra Costa Unified School District
    • Current fourth grade students who attend other schools in California