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Welcome to River City Academy

Young girl in a River City Academy classroom writing on paper with a pencil

River City Academy (RCA) is a unique program designed to build fluent academic skills in core subject areas and to accelerate learning in areas where students are already proficient. We believe that all learners can succeed when instruction is designed to meet their individual learning needs no matter where they lie. Our instruction is student-driven and we use scientifically-tested curriculum and practices in all of our efforts.


Students at RCA succeed due to our focus on ensuring they achieve mastery across key content areas, use fluency practices in all of their work, and develop problem-solving skills in core subjects. We do not move on to new content until a mastery level of understanding is achieved in prior content. In this fashion, students have the foundational skills necessary to acquire more knowledge as independently as possible as they move through the curriculum at their own pace.


Our methods allow students to practice reading, writing and problem-solving to ensure they can access the curriculum and tackle new learning opportunities with ease. Our problem-solving focus helps students to prepare for challenges, to practice applying solutions, and to gain the confidence needed to persevere when learning. Using these strategies, children can catch up and get ahead in any academic area.

Who We Serve

Traditional school programs focus on teaching students to acquire knowledge as a class, rather than as individual learners. As such, children often experience varying levels of success because they learn at different paces. In a traditional school, students who are falling behind, fall behind further when the class moves on to new content before they are ready. Students who are ready to move ahead, are not able to do so until the entire class is ready. Some students also perform differently depending on the subject matter. For example, some children excel in reading yet struggle in math. Other students may do well in science but struggle in language arts. Similarly, some children find long assignments and lectures to be too challenging. And some children excel when they can learn in structured yet stimulating environments that address their individual needs. This is how RCA came to be a non-traditional school. Whatever the challenges may be, RCA is prepared to meet students wherever they are academically.


RCA also tackles the issues of focus and attention often seen in traditional schooling. Children who feel the need to move when learning, who are easily distracted in traditional settings, who struggle to complete homework, and who thrive when learning settings are flexible and individualized can advance in our program.


Many families seek RCA for our inclusive focus, our individualized instruction, and our student-driven methodologies. Some families choose RCA in order to accelerate their child’s learning and to allow them to participate in an engaging and stimulating school experience. Other families may choose our program to remediate their child’s skills in certain content areas. Either way, RCA is prepared to meet the individual needs of our students through our student-driven focus.

Two young girls sitting on the library floor reading books in the Rivers Reading program provided by River City Academy

The River City Academy Philosophy

Students in the Summer Academic program drawing on a large sign

We directly address student strengths and needs by placing students in curricular sequences they are ready for, based upon their performance levels, regardless of the child’s age or intended grade level. We develop their learning repertoires including academic literacy and equivalency skills, problem solving, self-management skills, and expand their interests in arts and recreation.


Using leading technologies and a scientific teaching platform, RCA provides individualized learning assessments which it uses to drive our instructional efforts. Regardless of age or grade, we address areas of strength and need based on the daily performance of the students so that they may move ahead quickly. This student-driven system of instruction allows us to meet our students’ needs and to regularly evaluate their outcomes.


We offer a full day of reading, writing, math, language, problem-solving skills, and academic content areas including science and social studies. We also focus on recreation, technology and the arts.

How does River City Academy compare academically to other private school options?

The River City Academy model is based on the efforts of Columbia University researchers who developed a strategic format of instruction driven by student learning. In their model, students from preschool through 5th grade participate in instruction that is tailored to meet their learning needs and aligned with national learning standards. All students are taught to mastery, meaning as they acquire skills according to a learning standard for their age and grade, they do not move on to the next learning standard until the first one is firmly developed. In this way, students who need more help in a particular area do not fall behind and those students who are advancing quickly can move ahead. This is accomplished through ongoing, unobtrusive data collection and monitoring which allows the teachers to make decisions daily about what lessons to focus on. Simultaneously, students work on school routines and self-management skills to ensure they can independently manage their routines, behave politely and appropriately toward their peers, share, and participate in group activities. By providing instruction in an individualized fashion to an entire class, students make significant gains, are less frustrated and distracted, and engage with their classmates more easily. This is in stark contrast to traditional programs which introduce concepts based on a time schedule, regardless of how the students are performing. In these cases, students are expected to learn a particular concept 1 week and then moved to the next concept on week 2, regardless of whether or not they actually fully learned the concept introduced the first week. Similarly, students who already knew the week 1 concept or who learned it quickly, must endure an entire week of it before they are challenged academically. This type of instruction leads to students being off-task, behaving inappropriately and lacking attention due to both frustration and boredom. 

River City Academy located in Richmond Virginia
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