The Education Innovator #32
Volume II
Archived Information

The Education Innovator
 August 30, 2004 • Number 32
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What's inside...
Project RAISE, Lake Elsinore, California
What's New
The Education Department issues letters with further guidance on arts education, supplemental educational services, and transportation costs of school choice programs; the Friedman Foundation releases a study showing Americans support vouchers; a new website link gives examples of how NCLB makes a difference in each state; the Department publishes a brochure on how to prepare for a crisis; Florida is collecting school supplies for hurricane victims; the History Channel will air "The Story of Labor Day"; the Grammy Foundation will make music grants; and is sponsoring an essay contest and donating $1 for each essay to RIF.
Innovations in the News
The Summer Institute for School Leaders took place at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts in Hamilton, OH, plus information on arts education, charter schools, magnet schools and International Baccalaureate, parental choice, and reading.

Project RAISE Takes Reading and Writing to a Higher Level Through the Arts
"The fiery clouds stretching over the jagged mountains..." depicts a sunset in Southern California—a sunset seen and deftly described by a second grader in the Lake Elsinore school district. Her friend picks up a thesaurus to find just the right words to verbally paint a similar scene. These are students taught by teachers who are not artists themselves, but who have been trained to integrate the arts into the core curriculum of reading and writing.

This teacher training is conveyed through Lake Elsinore's Reading and Arts Integrated for Student Excellence (RAISE) project. The goal of the project is to integrate theater and visual arts into reading and writing instruction. The flagship approaches are VIEW (Visual Integration to Enhance Writing)—a strategy that uses the visual and kinesthetic skills of painting and drawing to develop higher order thinking skills—and Reader's Theatre—a strategy that enhances understanding of literature by dramatizing the actions, reactions, and consequences of the events and people in a story.

RAISE teachers and administrators are working toward the goal of integrating visual and language arts in five ways. First, they are committed to improving reading and other language arts skills, such as listening, speaking, and writing, through visual art and theater. Second, they are seeking to improve the quality of arts instruction in the generalist classroom by enhancing professional development that combines arts-based teaching strategies with standards-based instruction and assessment. Third, they are building the capacity of generalist teachers through artists-in-residence and partnerships with museums and other arts providers. Fourth, they are disseminating curriculum and staff development modules both in print and on the TeachingArts.Org California Department of Education website. And fifth, they are investigating the impact of an arts strategy on the reading program through an evaluation that is being conducted in partnership with university researchers.

In surveys and focus groups, teachers say they have observed richer and more descriptive student vocabulary as revealed in student writing and discussion. Students also display the use of complex sentence structure usually characteristic of more mature students. Concurrently, student artwork reflects a sophisticated sense of proportion, color, and design that is often associated with older children. Teachers also observe that student writing is more analytical than is typical for the age group.

Terra Cotta Middle school students, 40 percent of whom are Hispanic and 36 percent of whom are eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program, have made marked gains on standardized tests. California Standards-Based English Language Arts test scores of students at this school, where students and teachers have participated in the RAISE project, show that 66 percent of eighth graders are proficient or advanced, compared to 36 percent for the state.

Students' test scores at another school, Butterfield Elementary, a visual and performing arts magnet school and RAISE's main elementary school site, increased 55 points on the Academic Performance Index in 2003. The infused arts education program in this school is reinforced by artists-in-residence who conduct three or four master classes a year in visual art and music.

The school district is also sponsoring a study to investigate the outcome of the project through the administration of a pre-test that will be given to both treatment and control students.

Enthusiasm for the RAISE methodologies among teachers has brought out an entrepreneurial side of the project. As part of their professional development, project staff members have produced videos that give step-by-step guidance in creating visual art lessons. The video serves as an "on-site coach" for teachers, which they can go back to for inspiration or as a refresher. The videos have been in demand by teachers in other districts, so the program has the potential of being replicated beyond the scope of the RAISE project. Revenues from sales of the videos go back into the project.

Finally, the project has incorporated the creative use of technology so that students venture on "virtual field trips" to museums all over the world. "Distant VIEW" is a partnership project with the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The teacher serves as the tour guide as students hone their art criticism skills through discussion and writing.

Lake Elsinore Unified School District received an Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination grant from OII to implement the RAISE project. Research on the relation of visual art and drama to reading and writing has been documented in the OII-supported Arts Education Partnership study, Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development download files PDF (555K). The RAISE project has just been named a finalist for the California School Boards Association's Golden Bell Award.

Resources: Note: The project described above is innovative; however, it does not currently have evidence of general effectiveness from a rigorous evaluation. Research is underway to identify the outcome of students' performance after participating in the project.


What's New
Arts Policy Letter to Superintendents
U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige sent a letter to all superintendents highlighting the fact that the arts are a core academic subject under No Child Left Behind and offered guidance on the law's flexibility to improve art education and teacher quality. (Aug. 6)

SES Policy Letter to Chief State Officers: LEA Conditions on Providers
Deputy Under Secretary for Innovation and Improvement Nina Rees and Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Raymond Simon sent a letter to Chief State School Officers with information that supplements the Department's nonregulatory guidance on supplemental educational services. The letter explains what requirements local education agencies can and cannot impose on state-approved supplemental educational services providers. (Aug. 26)

Choice Policy Letter to Chief State Officers: Guidance on Calculating Costs for Transportation Under the Public School Choice Provision of NCLB
Deputy Under Secretary Rees and Assistant Secretary Simon sent a letter to Chief State School Officers with guidance on calculating costs for transportation under the public school choice provision of No Child Left Behind. (Aug. 18)

School Choice Study from Friedman Foundation
The Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation sponsored a study by the Wirthlin Worldwide research firm. According to the study, 64 percent of Americans support using tax dollars to help parents pay for the school of their choice. (Aug 13)

No Child Left Behind Website Updates
The U.S. Department of Education has added a new link to the No Child Left Behind website that gives examples of how NCLB is making a difference in each of the 50 states. (Aug. 20)

Department of Education Crisis Planning Brochure
The U.S. Department of Education has prepared a brochure to help schools and communities prepare for a crisis. The brochure is available free from ED Pubs (order number EQ0163H). (Aug. 25)

Hurricane Charley Relief Fund
The Florida Education Foundation has partnered with Volunteer Florida to collect school supplies and books for areas hardest hit by Hurricane Charley. (Aug. 26)

History Channel Documentary: "The Story of Labor Day"
The History Channel will air a documentary, "The Story of Labor Day," on Monday, September 6, at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET/PT. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Gene Hickok explained that it is important for students to know the meaning behind our civic holidays. (Aug. 25)

Grammy Foundation Grant Competition
The Grammy Foundation will award $650,000 in grants to music archiving, preservation, and research projects. The 2004/2005 grant program application is available online, and the deadline is October 1. (Aug. 26) Essay Contest
The online bookseller, is sponsoring an essay contest, and finalists will be announced on International Literacy Day, September 8. For each qualified essay submission, Powell's is donating $1 (up to $20,000) to OII-funded Reading Is Fundamental. The deadline is August 31. (Aug. 25).


Innovations in the News

Arts Education
The Summer Institute for School Leaders took place at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts in Hamilton, OH. This was a trial National Endowment for the Arts program to promote arts education. [More-Plain Dealer- free registration] (Aug. 19) (see also, OII-funded Fitton arts program)

Researchers at Dartmouth and several other institutions will study the correlation between education in the arts and brain development. The research is supported by a grant from the Dana Foundation. [More-Dartmouth Online] (Aug. 26)

Charter Schools
Students in Edison Schools in Philadelphia show strong growth in student performance. The 20 Edison schools posted an average annual gain of 10.2 percentage points by fifth and eighth grade students who scored proficient or above on the 2004 Pennsylvania System of Schools Assessment in Reading. [More-Biz.Yahoo] (Aug. 25)

Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) Academies demonstrate impressive student achievement increases—39 percent in math and 20 percent in reading last year. Montgomery County (MD) is trying to start a KIPP academy, and some want to open three more KIPP schools in the District of Columbia. [More-Washington Post] (Aug. 24)

All Akron/Canton (OH) charter schools made adequate yearly progress (AYP) under No Child Left Behind and outperformed local traditional public school counterparts in four of five state required testing areas. Meeting AYP was meaningful, according to officials, because the majority of students who come to the charter schools are behind grade level when they arrive. [More-Biz.Yahoo] (Aug. 25)

BASIS middle schools in Scottsdale and Tucson (AZ) were rated number one in the state, based on their Stanford 9 test scores. The two charter schools' students performed above the 90th percentile in mathematics. The BASIS school in Tucson was profiled in OII's recent pubication, Successful Charter Schools. (Aug. 18)

Magnet Schools/International Baccalaureate
Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools (NC) received an OII Magnet Schools Assistance grant of $5 million. The grant will support the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, the Center for Leadership and Global Economics, and the Communication Arts Program. [More-WSOCTV] (Aug. 24)

Six Jefferson Parrish (LA) public schools are working toward the International Baccalaureate (IB) designation. The IB program is part of a district strategy to boost standardized test scores and to get residents enthusiastic about public education. [More-Times-Picayune] (Aug. 21)

Parental Choice
Parent Power Works is a new campaign of Standards Work Inc., a nonprofit education organization based in Washington, D.C., which encourages parents of students in schools in need of improvement to take advantage of free tutoring or a transfer to another school under the provisions of No Child Left Behind. Parent Power Works is funded by a Parental Information and Resource Center grant from OII. [More-Baltimore Sun] (Aug. 24)

When one school in the district had to offer choice under No Child Left Behind, it made sense for the parents of children in other district schools to have choice, too, according to officials in Lincoln County (OR). [More-News Guard] (Aug. 24)

Students and their parents are willing to commute across the Potomac River from Virginia into the District of Columbia and Maryland to gain religious education at Catholic schools. [More-Catholic Herald] (Aug. 26)

Albertsons grocery store chain, Coca Cola, and Reading Is Fundamental have donated 500,000 books to schools and children's organizations across the country. [More-Biz.Yahoo and Idaho Statesman ( The complete article is available from the Idaho Statesman online archives for a fee)] (Aug. 19 and 20)

This fall, OII-funded Ready-to-Learn TV and Reading Is Fundamental will offer literacy resources tailored to Hispanic families. PBS will launch the Maya and Miguel television program, and RIF will introduce an early literacy initiative—"Un futuro brillante empieza en un libro." Hispanic Business (Aug. 23)


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Last Modified: 08/27/2008