The Education Innovator #26
Volume II
Archived Information

The Education Innovator
 July 12, 2004 • Number 26
 Share this page Share this page
  Past issues
What's inside...
Fitton Center's SPECTRA+ "! Program, Hamilton, Ohio
What's New launches a feature to provide parents with options if their child's school is in need of improvement; new report shows California charter schools successfully provide quality education to students with disabilities; the Education Commission of the States issues reports on charter school laws and partnerships; OII releases a new brochure on supplemental educational services; the What Works Clearinghouse website now has study reports on middle school math and peer-assisted learning; Leadership for Educational Entrepreneurs celebrates its first group of Fellows; and the National Endowment for the Humanities seeks proposals for the "We the People" initiative.
Innovations in the News
Teachers in Virginia are now able to submit their resumes to prospective employers using a common application, plus information on charter schools and Teaching American history.

SPECTRA+"! Crafts Curricula by Infusing Core Subjects With the Arts
Few educators would think to teach a lesson on the solar system using modern dance as a primary tool for instruction. However, with SPECTRA +"!, the signature program of the Fitton Center for Creative Arts in Hamilton, Ohio, students demonstrate their understanding of planets' orbits by mastering the movements of modern dance. SPECTRA+, which is an acronym for "Schools, Parents, Educators, Children, Teachers Rediscover the Arts," is a partnership between the Fitton Center and the Hamilton City School District. At SPECTRA+ schools, elementary school students learn from artists-in-residence and grade-level teachers to discover the connections between subject areas such as astronomy and the arts. In conjunction with traditional elementary-level instruction, students are exposed on a weekly basis to visual arts, music, dance, drama, media arts, and creative writing.

The SPECTRA+ program was adopted in response to low standardized test scores among students in Hamilton—a city with 200 years of history and, today, designated as the "City of Sculpture" because of its immersion in the arts. In fact, Hamilton has a sculpture commemorating the signing of the No Child Left Behind Act in the city on January 8, 2002. U.S. Secretary of Education and Representative John Boehner (R-OH) dedicated the sculpture in June.

The main goals of the Spectra+ program are to increase student achievement and raise test scores by developing creative thinking and problem-solving skills. To accomplish these goals, the arts are integrated into math and reading curricula so that elementary school students can creatively connect the concepts taught in all of these subjects. To enable the districts to evaluate whether this goal is being met, students take the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, which assesses five main aspects of creativity: fluency, flexibility, originality, resistance to closure, and elaboration on subject matter. In addition, students take reading, mathematics, and arts appreciation assessments.

Students are not the only people charged with discovering connections between the arts and other core subjects. Teachers may strengthen their understanding of the complexities of the arts by enrolling in the Fitton Center's Riverside Academy, which is a satellite campus of the University of Rio Grande. Through this program, they can obtain a Masters in Education with a focus in the fine arts.

All staff operations in Spectra+ schools are site managed, so that individual schools can address the particular needs of their students. With careful attention to detail, teachers of subjects such as math or reading observe art sessions in progress and coordinate with the artists-in-residence. Teacher/artist teams then co-write units of instruction that are in line with state or national standards in core academic content areas. These units of instruction help to integrate the arts across the curriculum, even in areas where art may not be part of the traditional teaching method.

To assess the effectiveness of the endeavor against other schools with similar demographics, SPECTRA+ is currently sponsoring a study conducted by Dr. Richard Luftig at Miami University of Ohio, using a simple control school (a school with no special programs), a modified control school (a school that uses another supplemental teaching program), and a SPECTRA+ school. Preliminary results of the analysis of the data reveal SPECTRA+ third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students are faring better than the simple control group on all of the predetermined assessments, and are equal to or better than the modified control group on all tests. SPECTRA+ students show particular achievement on math and reading assessments for fourth and sixth grade students.

With the success of the elementary school program in mind, the Fitton Center has developed a new program for high school-aged students in collaboration with the Butler Technology and Career Development School. The Options Academy—The Arts, slated to open in the fall, will serve students interested in the arts as a career. Each student will have a computer-based personal education plan and will obtain field experience by working with mentor artists in a specific trade. The goal of Options Academy is to display each student's potential for success, which can eventually translate into success in an art-based profession, through a nontraditional school environment.

SPECTRA+ students and teachers may also enrich their learning through other programs the Fitton Center makes available to all community members. To supplement the extensive arts instruction of SPECTRA+, students may choose to participate in the Riverbank poetry project or Lane @ Fitton, which are both projects designed to increase community understanding of reading/language arts.

The Fitton Center received an Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination grant from OII in 2003 to implement the SPECTRA+ program. SPECTRA+ has been designated by the state of Ohio as a promising practice, and the program directors are documenting the model so that it might be replicated in other schools.

Resources: Note: The program described is innovative and appears to have some evidence of effectiveness. The program has not yet been replicated in other schools.


What's New
New Feature on has launched a user-friendly feature for 30 U.S. states that allows parents, policymakers, and others to easily ascertain whether a school is in need of improvement under Child Left Behind. If it is, the site offers a list of schools in the district not need of improvement, which parents can consult as they consider their pubic school choice options. The site also contains a list of approved supplemental educational services providers. This database is funded by a grant from OII. (July 8)

Charter Schools in CA Successfully Serve Students with Disabilities
A new Reason Foundation report has found that California charter schools, even with fewer resources than traditional public schools, are successfully providing quality education for students with disabilities. The report also found that charter schools are reducing the number of students labeled "special education" through early intervention programs. (July 2004)

Policy Brief on Charter School Laws and Partnerships
Published by the Education Commission of the States, and supported by a grant from the Department of Education's Charter Schools Program, the University of Southern California has released a policy brief entitled Charter School Laws and Partnerships: Expanding Opportunities and Resources. (April 2004)

Brochure for Parents on Supplemental Educational Services
OII has released a new download files PDF (24K). The two-page brochure, designed for parents, explains what supplemental services are and how to get more information. It is available free from ED Pubs (order number EU 0111H.) (July 8)

New What Works Clearinghouse Website
The new What Works Clearinghouse website—a source of scientific evidence of what works in education—is now available with its first study reports on middle school math curricula and peer-assisted learning. (July 1)

Leadership for Educational Entrepreneurs Program
The first Leadership for Educational Entrepreneurs (LEE) Fellows have completed their action research and were honored by the sponsoring school, Arizona State University West. One Fellow, Marta Reyes-Newberry, has been appointed the new Director of Charter Schools for the California State Department of Education. LEE is an OII-funded interdisciplinary program for charter school leaders that bridges Education M.ED. and MBA degrees to equip participants with both education and business skills. (June 4) (see also the Innovator for Nov. 10, 2003)

"We the People Initiative" is Seeking Proposals
As a part of its "We the People" initiative, the National Endowment for the Humanities seeks proposals for a series of intensive, one-week residence-based workshops for educators that use historic sites to address central themes and issues in American history. (deadline August 6)


Innovations in the News

Charter Schools
KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) Heartwood Academy's 28-year-old principal, Sehba Zhumkhawala, has had to create her school from scratch—sell the community on the idea, raise money to supplement state funding, hire teachers—and she is spending her summer recruiting students. Classes will start this fall in the San Jose, CA low-income district of Alum Rock. [More-Christian Science Monitor] (July 6)

High Tech High in Point Loma, CA, the original school in a growing network, will send all 105 of its graduates to college this fall. High Tech Schools, which use internships and projects in technology to supplement traditional instruction, will open two more campuses in the fall to make a total of sixteen schools operating under the high tech model. [More-San Diego Union Tribune] (July 2)

Suncoast Academy in Sarasota, FL, a public charter school, emphasizes discipline and social skills for all students. Suncoast joins more than 200 schools nationwide (including the nearby Sarasota Military Academy) that have the same approach to reaching students. [More-Herald Tribune] (july 6)

Teacher Quality
A collaboration between the Virginia Department of Education and the national New Teacher Project allows prospective teachers to send their résumés to many schools using a single application. Directors of the project hope that the new common application will attract teachers to schools that are most in need of quality instruction. [More-Washington Post] (free registration) (June 30)

Teaching American History
Four public school systems in southern Missouri have received a Teaching American History (TAH) grant to provide educators with the opportunity to earn a master's degree in American history. Interested teachers will use grant monies to take Internet classes while school is in session, and to attend intensive institutes during summer months. [More-News Leader] (July 6)

TAH grant recipients at Bozeman High School in Montana reinforce the importance of the Declaration of Independence as a determinant of U.S. history. Teachers and historians say that the document epitomizes the ideals of equality and freedom, significantly influencing U.S. citizens in the past and present. [More-Bozeman Daily Chronicle] (July 4)

The Indiana Area School District in Indiana, PA received a TAH grant to improve teachers' understanding of history. District officials hope that increased teacher proficiency will improve student achievement both in school and on state-mandated assessments. [More-Indiana Gazette] (July 3)


Print this page Printable view Send this page Share this page
Last Modified: 10/31/2007