Trillium FAQs

General Questions

What is a charter school?
A charter school is a public school of choice, with the ability to create a mission and hire teachers independent of the school district they are sponsored by. Charter schools must meet the same Oregon diploma requirements as all Oregon Public Schools, but are able to determine the educational approach to get there. Charter schools are not required to use district adopted curriculum and students participate in state testing. Students are selected through a blind lottery based on availability by grade level. Staff are not Portland Public School employees.

What is the purpose of a charter school?
Through the authorization of public charter schools, the Oregon Legislature has created an avenue for parents, teachers, and community members to “take responsible risks to create new, innovative, more flexible ways of educating all children within the public school system.” (Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 338.015)

What makes Trillium different from a mainstream public school?

Trillium students benefit from small class sizes which allow for close relationships with their advisors and teachers. These relationships are additionally allowed to deepen over the 2-4 years they are in each age level grouping. (Kindergarten is the exception here.) When a learning relationship is given such a long window of time to grow and develop, students are given the time and freedom to explore who they are. Advisors have an opportunity to really see who students are and can give them the time and opportunities to grow in ways that feel right for each child.

How many students attend Trillium, and in what grades?

We currently have up to 365 students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.

How many different classes are in your school?
There are three blended K-1st grade classrooms, three blended 2nd-3rd grade classrooms, three blended 4th-5th grade classrooms, four middle school (6-8) advisings and five high school (9-12) advisings.

How many students are in each class?

The K-1 advisings have 21 students each, the 2-3 grade advisings have 23 students each, and the 4-5 grade advisings through high school have sizes of approximately 23 students each.

Is there before and after school care?

There is onsite after school care for grades K-6th. The program runs from 3pm to 6pm Monday through Thursday, and from 12pm-6pm on Friday.


Do I have to pay tuition or an application fee?
There is no tuition or application fee. Should your student be accepted, we will request that you pay a small activities fee (between $150-$175), for which we can offer a payment plan to assist you.

Can I tour the school?
The school, including all classrooms, will be open the nights of our Open Houses. At that time, you can walk through the school, investigate the classrooms, and ask the teachers questions. Please check our calendar for upcoming Open House dates. Due to limited staff resources, we do not offer group or individual tours before admittance.

Can I observe a classroom?

Upon admittance, your child will have the option to shadow. Due to the high volume of applicants, we do not offer shadow days before admittance.

Will I be entered into the lottery if I am unable to attend an Open House?
Yes. Open House is recommended but not required.

If I live in another school district, can my child attend Trillium?

State law requires that we place all Portland Public School District residents before accepting any out-of-district students. If there are still spaces in a class once all in-district residents have been place, then the out-of-district students will be accepted in the order determined by the lottery. You cannot attend Trillium if you are not living in the state of Oregon.

When will I know if my student got into Trillium?
We will be mailing letters in late April.

How do I know if I got in?
We will notify you be mail in late April. Your letter will either welcome you to Trillium or inform you of your number on the wait list.

What happens if my child does not get one of the openings?
All students who not get a space are placed on a wait list in the order assigned from the lottery. We use that wait list to fill spaces that may become available throughout the summer and the school year.

If my child does not get in at all, am I automatically entered into the lottery for the next year?
No. You must submit a new application each year that you would like your child to be entered into the lottery.

How do I know if my child has moved up on the wait list?
You can contact us to find out if your child’s position on the wait list has changed. Due to the large volume of inquiries, we prefer that you contact us by email (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

If one of my children gets into Trillium, does that mean that my other children will automatically get in too?
We give priority to current students’ siblings. If your child is admitted this year, their sibling will have priority the following school year, assuming that the enrolled child is staying at Trillium.

How long do I have to accept a spot at Trillium?
If your student is chosen in the lottery, we hope that you will accept right away. You do have a couple of weeks to make your decision. Your letter offering a space will tell you your response date deadline. After that, we begin calling names on the wait list. If you are called during June or July, you will have a few days to make your decision. During August, we ask that you make your decision within 24 hours.

Do spaces ever become available during the school year?Once in a while spaces do become available during the school year. At that time, we call the first person on the wait list.

Can I request a teacher for my child?
The process for requesting a teacher is to submit the Classroom Request Form which tells us more about your student’s learning style. This information is taken into account when doing classroom placement and balancing all the other factors.


What does democratic education mean at Trillium?
Democratic education at Trillium is a continually evolving process. The cornerstone is building the understanding with students the levels of decision-making from the self to the community.  We work on how to articulate and advocate for  ideas and opinions in community. Through class meetings, all school meeting, and the proposal to vote process, students can make and pass proposals to impact many aspects of the school: a cornerstone to democratic education.

What kind of learner is most successful at Trillium?

At Trillium, we foster a student’s love of learning. We seek to provide experiences where all students can be successful. Students have the opportunity to follow their passions by choosing their own projects and classes. They have the obligation to improve their academic skills through these projects. Students who succeed at Trillium are: curious, motivated, willing to take risks, excited by learning, self-reliant, creative, and problem solvers.

What are the classes like?
Trillium School curriculum engages students in inquiring, exploring, comparing, collecting information, predicting, testing, justifying and defending ideas, and synthesizing the results of their inquiries. Higher-level thinking is taught and expected. The school is a place of research and innovation, from our youngest to oldest participants. Students, teachers, and families are required to construct and reinvent continuously. Students have opportunities to experience art  and music as part of their education. Skilled discussion and reciprocity lie at the heart of successfully keeping our curriculum alive.

What is math like at Trillium?

Students’ experience of numeracy and mathematics occurs through facilitated investigations that allow students to make their own connections. We seek out meaningful integrated experiences that allow students to gain both appreciation and mastery of level appropriate concepts and standards. We believe that it is essential that students make meaning of why math works and develop their own understandings of universal concepts. We build and develop both essential skill and problem solving strategies. We believe in integrating math learning and work into real world situations so that students come to see that mathematics is a powerful tool in their understanding of the world.

What reading curriculum do you use for each level?

We use a variety of teaching approaches to reflect the needs of our students. The paramount focus is to develop the love of reading, as well as the understanding that reading is an essential skill for success in our society. Reading is taught through the use of books kids love, read aloud with whole groups, one-on-one, and small group reading instruction and support to develop reading skills, and plenty of opportunities to self-select texts.

Do you have grades?

Trillium relies upon a balanced set of assessment tools. Along with the Oregon state-mandated tests, these may include individual Education Team assessments, academic descriptors, student-led conferences, and student work portfolios. They may also include performance projects, community service logs and project evaluations, and exhibitions. By using a variety of assessment tools, we increase the likelihood of gathering accurate information. We also use narratives as an alternative to letter or number grades in grades K through 5.