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The Education Innovator #22
Volume II
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The Education Innovator
 June 14, 2004 • Number 22
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What's inside...
Feature
Roxbury Preparatory Charter School
What's New
OII and Former Assistant Secretary of Education for Research and Improvement Chester E. Finn Jr. remember former President Ronald Reagan; 650 people from the U.S. and around the world participate in a web-based dialogue on charter schools; Nevada students benefit from an AP Incentives grant; Secretary Paige discusses the link between education and the economy; a study by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. finds that Teach For America's teachers benefit students; the teacher pay plan in Chattanooga brings quality teachers to underperforming schools, according to a Lexington Institute study; and WVSA arts connection is a semifinalist for the 2004 Coming Up Taller Award.
Innovations in the News
KIPP seeks to establish one of the first charter schools in Washington State, plus information on economic education, school choice, and teacher quality.

Roxbury Preparatory Charter School Expects Academic Excellence from All Students
Many parents have dreamed of sending their middle school children to an academic "boot camp," a place where energy and curiosity can be channeled to a positive end, focused on discipline and academic achievement. At what can be one of the most difficult times in a student's life, Roxbury Preparatory Charter School harnesses student and parent commitment and uses it to promote educational excellence.

Seeking to narrow the achievement gap between suburban students and their urban counterparts, while also offering a college preparatory program, the state of Massachusetts granted a charter in 1999 to a team of educators who proposed a middle school in the poverty-ridden Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. Serving students from Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan, the coeducational school formulated a philosophy that emphasizes a rigorous curriculum, character development, and family involvement.

With the approach that all students can succeed in a college prep program—even the 66 percent who enter reading one or more grade levels below the norm—Roxbury Prep requires students to take six academic classes a day, two of which must be in math and two in reading/language arts. The administrators, such as Co-Director John King, believe that if Roxbury Prep students are exposed to such academic intensity, their Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) scores will mirror those of other, more affluent neighborhoods in the Boston area. King says, "We do not shy away from the MCAS, because we believe in accountability. The MCAS provides a standard by which families, communities, and lawmakers can evaluate the quality and effectiveness of education across the state."

In 2003, Roxbury Prep's MCAS scores were the highest of any predominantly African American school in the state on sixth and eighth grade math and eighth grade science, and second best on sixth through eighth grade English assessments. An impressive 82 percent of seventh grade students scored "advanced" or "proficient" on the English assessment.

Roxbury Prep invites family involvement by requiring parents to sign a "Family and School Contract" at the beginning of each school year. When they sign this document, parents agree to communicate with their child's teacher every two weeks. If, however, the parents aren't able to help with a child's progress, students may attend a homework center, run by teachers and community members, that is open both after school and on weekends.

The school is not only demanding of students, but also demands much of its teachers. Teachers often sacrifice their evenings and weekends to work on improving student performance. They also work during the summers on the Curriculum Alignment Templates (CAT). These templates are important, because the school bases its curriculum on the templates rather than on textbooks. Additionally, the teachers participate in meetings on Friday afternoons to help them establish practices across subjects, so that students can use like strategies in seemingly unrelated topics.

The school receives state-funded tuition of about $9,500 per student per year and other state and federal monies for programs such as Title I and special education. Additional funds are raised by the school's board of trustees.

Since receiving its charter in 1999, Roxbury Prep has sent all of its middle school graduates on to high schools with college preparatory missions, and the school's recent graduating class earned over $400,000 in scholarships and financial aid toward tuition in private high schools.

A portion of the funding for Roxbury Prep comes from the Charter School Program, administered by OII.

Resources: Note: Roxbury Preparatory Charter School is one of the case studies in OII's forthcoming publication, Innovations in Education: Creating Charter Schools (see below). The featured school is innovative, but does not necessarily have evidence of general effectiveness from a rigorous evaluation. The success of the program described may not be replicable, depending on unique conditions in differing locations.

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What's New
Remembering the Legacy of Former President Ronald Reagan
The Office of Innovation and Improvement remembers the legacy of former President Ronald Reagan. During his administration, the Department embraced the "3 C's"—content, character, and choice—all of which are included in the No Child Left Behind Act and are part of OII's mission. (June 14)


Remembering the Education Impact of Former President Ronald Regan
Chester E. Finn Jr., former assistant secretary of education for research and improvement, reflects on former President Ronald Reagan's impact on American education. (June 9)


U.S. Charter Schools Conference
This week is the U.S. Charter Schools conference, sponsored by OII. The web dialogue, which took place last week to prepare for the conference, involved over 650 people from across the country and around the world. Participants from Japan, Germany, Australia, Canada, Brazil, and New Zealand joined the online conversation with expert panelists to discuss the following topics: growing the charter school movement; No Child Left Behind and federal policies; resources and relationships; and teaching and learning. (June 14)


Nevada to Receive $585,838 Advanced Placement Grant
U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige announced that thousands of Nevada students will benefit from a $585,838 grant to give low-income students greater access to, and perform better in, advanced courses through the Advanced Placement Incentives Program, which is administered by OII. (June 4)


Remarks from Secretary Paige Before the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce
Secretary Paige discussed the link between education and the economy in his remarks before the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, saying, "Education may be the industry upon which all others depend." (June 3)


Teach for America's Effectiveness
Mathematica Policy Research Inc. has released an independent study that demonstrates Teach For America's effectiveness in the classroom. According to the study, Teach For America teachers "produce higher test scores than the other teachers in their schools..." (June 9)


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Innovations in the News

Charter Schools
Following on the success of such schools as the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) Academy in the Bronx, NY, KIPP seeks to establish one of the first charter schools in Washington State. [More-Seattle Times] (June 7)

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's "May Budget Revise" protects classroom funding for many of California's highest performing public charter schools, which serve some of the state's most at-risk students. [More-Business Wire] (May 13)

Florida's "Survivors" charter schools have single-handedly increased graduation rates in Palm Beach County. The schools encourage students to pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and the GED to earn a high school diploma. [More-Palm Beach Post] (May 22)

Economic Education
The Credit Union National Association, Inc. estimates that, annually, young people's spending is somewhere around $150 billion. Often, young people incur debt from frivolous spending, which is why there have been state and national initiatives to promote economic and financial education. [More-Intelligencer] (June 7)

Students at Patrick Henry High School in northwest Minneapolis learn the basics about investing. By participating in BestPrep's Stock Market Game™, students become familiar with researching and trading stocks. The Stock Market Game simulates real-life investing while teaching math, social studies, and reading. [More-CamdeNews] (June 8)

School Choice
Starting this fall, if a Louisiana school is deemed a school in need of improvement, parents can transfer their children to another school. The Calcasieu Parish School Board has approved a plan that will give parents a choice if their child's school is not meeting state standards. [More-KPLC] (June 1)

A new study shows that many New Zealand parents want more control over what schools their children attend. The report asserts that one of the greatest concerns among the parents surveyed was the imposition of "school zones" and the negative effects these can have. [More-Scoop] (June 1)

More students from outside school districts are choosing to attend classes in Beverly, MA, than at any time in the past five years. [More-Beverly Citizen] (May 27)

Teacher Quality
Utah teachers become students again during their summer vacations in order to comply with state re-licensing requirements and No Child Left Behind. Utah's Educator Licensing and Professional Practices Act makes teaching a profession similar to that of medical doctors, lawyers, accountants, and other professionals who must comply with continuing education requirements to keep their licenses current. [More-BYU NewsNet] (June 8)

Innovation In Education Publication To Be Released on June 15th
The Office of Innovation and Improvement will release the third publication in the Innovations in Education series. Innovations in Education: Successful Charter Schools provides real-world examples of innovative practices in charter schools. This publication will be released in conjunction with the charter schools conference. To read the publication, on or after June 15, please visit Successful Charter Schools.

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Last Modified: 06/30/2011