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The Education Innovator #9
Volume III
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The Education Innovator
 March 7, 2005 • Number 9
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What's inside...
100th Issue
Feature
South Heights Elementary School, Henderson, Kentucky Project CHILD (Changing How Instruction for Learning is Delivered)
What's New
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings gives speech at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Education News Parents Can Use airs program on arts education; the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) releases study on distance education; Star Schools grant competition now open; Women's Educational Equity grant competition now open; technical assistance webcast airs for the Ready to Teach and Star Schools grant competitions; Choices for Parents listserv up and running; proposed bill could remove the cap on new NC charter schools; Monte del Sol Charter School receives National Civic Star Award; Utah develops new scholarship program for students with special needs to attend private schools; Heartland Institute releases school choice guide; Florida TaxWatch releases study on Project CHILD; Education Events sponsors School Administrator Symposium.
Innovations in the News
A University of Arizona program helps art education majors prepare for the classroom; plus information on arts education, charter schools, choice, teacher quality, and technology.

Project CHILD Raises South Heights to New Heights
On a bluff high above the Ohio River sits Henderson County, a small swath of Kentucky, boasting eight elementary schools. One of these schools is South Heights Elementary, which has undergone major changes in the last few years and is finally starting to live up to its motto: "We succeed! No excuses. No exceptions." Once the lowest performing school in the district, South Heights is now exceeding state goals for student performance. South Heights' success is due in part to its use of Project CHILD (Changing How Instruction for Learning is Delivered), an instructional system that has enriched the school's curriculum and empowered its teachers, students, and families.

South Heights serves over 400 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, most of whom are low-income white students from the surrounding community. Nearly 100 percent of the students qualify to receive federal free or reduced-price lunch. In 1999, after the school had been taken over by the state, administrators decided to try Project CHILD, hoping that the program would improve student achievement and boost teachers' morale, which had been low with the school's chronic poor performance. The program began in three classrooms, and the results were so impressive that South Heights adopted Project CHILD as its school-wide instructional model in 2000.

Project CHILD is a national program built on research conducted at the Florida State University and designed for use with children who are in kindergarten through the fifth grade. Today, the program is in 47 schools in 4 states (FL, GA, KY, and IN), with 627 teachers serving 15,675 students. While the program emphasizes reading, writing, and mathematics, science and social studies topics are incorporated throughout the curriculum.

Schools that use the Project CHILD model have their own curricula, but follow multi-grade guides in reading, writing, and mathematics provided by CHILD. Each guide includes related software that helps teachers produce handouts and other materials. All materials are linked to national and individual state standards and are produced by CHILD's parent organization, the Institute for School Innovation, a private, nonprofit organization that provides resources and professional development to increase teacher effectiveness.

Project CHILD differs from traditional teaching models in that there is not just one teacher who teaches a single grade level. Instead, three teachers form a "cluster team"—one for writing, one for reading, and another for mathematics. These teams work across three grade levels and stay with the students for three years. The primary cluster consists of students in kindergarten through second grade, and the intermediate cluster consists of students in third through fifth grade.

Communication among teachers is an integral part of Project CHILD. The collaborative structure creates built-in support for teachers, who work together throughout the school year in their cluster teams. Clusters meet weekly to plan lessons and unit activities. Additionally, during each unit, teachers observe the other two classrooms in their clusters and discuss their findings with colleagues. The Institute for School Innovation provides teachers with added support throughout the first three years of the program. During the first year, teachers attend implementation workshops, participate in on-site coaching with veteran CHILD teachers, and attend a follow-up training workshop at the beginning of the second semester. The Institute also coordinates teacher networking activities such as newsletters and an Internet bulletin board where CHILD teachers in different locations can share best practices from their classrooms.

CHILD classes are structured, despite the fact that students move around the classroom in stations. After whole-group instruction from the teacher, students go to work at stations to practice skills and concepts they learned in the lesson. The teacher manages the class by supervising activities and asking the students questions. At the end of class, the group comes together for review and assessment.

Students are trained how to use materials and resources, how to stay focused while working independently, and how to move efficiently from one station to the next. For each station, teachers design activities that are tied to lesson objectives using the CHILD activity guides. A Computer Station is used for technology-based work, a Text Station for reading and writing, a Challenge Station for problem-solving activities, an Imagination Station for creative expression, and an Exploration Station for hands-on projects. A Teacher Station is used for small group tutorials or for students who need individual help.

Students in the CHILD program receive "Passports" that help direct them during station activities. Passports are records that help children become organized and help teachers track the children's progress during each six-week unit. At the beginning of a unit, children set individual goals in their Passports with the help of their teachers. During stations, children write information about their work. After the unit, students assess with the teacher whether they reached their goals. Parents are also included in their children's academic journey. At the end of each unit, they must review their children's Passports and give comments to the teacher.

The processes and techniques that Project CHILD has added to South Heights Elementary School appear to have benefited the students' academic performance. In its first year, Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS) scores for third graders improved 12 points; third grade placements in gifted programs increased from 9 to 22; and discipline referrals fell school wide from 413 to 209. In 2004, students' Reading, Math, and Science Index scores all increased by at least 30 points, and the school was recognized by the Fordham University Graduate School of Education, Pearson Education, Inc., and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) with the National School Change Award for making substantial improvement in the education of its students.

Evaluation of the Project CHILD program is ongoing in the four states where the program is being used (see also What's New). The program at South Heights Elementary School was funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in collaboration with the Institute for School Innovation and the Kentucky Collaborative for Teaching and Learning.

Resources: Note: Note: The program at South Heights Elementary School is innovative, but does not necessarily have evidence of general effectiveness from a rigorous evaluation. The school has improved student academic achievement over time, and has met "Adequate Yearly Progress" standards under No Child Left Behind. The Project CHILD program at schools in Marion and Osceola Counties, Florida, has been evaluated through research sponsored by Florida TaxWatch download files PDF (1MB), (see What's New). According to that evaluation, students in the Project CHILD program in Florida schools had higher performance on standardized tests than students who were not in a Project CHILD program.

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What's New
From the U.S. Department of Education

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings gave a speech at the annual Washington, DC meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. She praised the contribution Catholic schools have made to the education of students across the country and encouraged Catholic schools to become supplemental educational services providers under the No Child Left Behind Act. (Feb. 28)

Education News Parents Can Use, the monthly television program from the U.S. Department of Education, will air a program on arts education on March 15 at 8 p.m. Eastern time. The program will feature programs funded by OII. To view the program, visit a facility with satellite downlink capabilities or call a local cable access station or school board channel. Viewers may also visit the site's Registration Gateway for viewing options in their area. (March 7)

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has released a study on distance education. The report is the first national survey to explore distance education courses for public elementary and secondary school students. Reasons for distance education, curriculum, and estimates of the number of districts enrolled in such programs are some of the topics examined in the report. (March 2)

From OII

The Star Schools grant competition is now open. The competition includes two priorities: 1) to provide supplemental educational services using emerging technologies for students attending schools in urban and rural communities that have not achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in two or more years; and 2) to enhance literacy and mathematics skills through the use of gaming and simulations technologies. The deadline to apply is May 9, 2005. (March 8)

The Women's Educational Equity grant competition is now open. The program designates most of its funding for local gender-equity initiatives. Research, development, and dissemination activities may also be funded. (March 3)

On March 11 a technical assistance webcast will air for the Ready to Teach and Star Schools grant competitions. Viewers can find instructions for participation at kidzonline. Individuals who wish to participate in the webcast should reply to webcastintent@ed.gov.

State and local officials and other interested individuals can now join the Choices for Parents listserv. The listserv is a free service, and subscribers interested in receiving information on issues related to public school choice and supplemental educational services will receive periodic updates and announcements. (March 8)

Charter Schools

Senator Eddie Goodall (R-NC) introduced a bill that would remove the cap on new charter schools in North Carolina. Another one of his proposed bills would allow counties to fund charter school operations and facilities. North Carolina enacted its charter schools law in 1996, and since then, the charter school population has grown to 100 schools serving 21,000 students (but this is just 1.5 percent of the state's entire student population). [More-NC Rumors] (Feb. 27)

The Monte del Sol Charter School in Santa Fe (NM) received the National Civic Star Award at the American Association of School Administrators' conference in San Antonio for its community/school mentorship program. This school was the only school in the state to be recognized, and the only charter school in the country to be honored. The Civic Star Award acknowledges excellence in school district and community partnerships that enrich student achievement and academics. (Feb. 24)

Choice

The Alliance for School Choice (AZ), a national organization that supports school choice programs, recently hailed a new Utah school choice program for students with special needs. The Carson Smith Scholarships for Students with Special Needs Act will allow hundreds of students with disabilities in the state to attend a private school that could better serve their needs. Utah is the second state after Florida to offer special needs scholarships to private schools. (March 1)

Closing the Achievement Gap

Florida TaxWatch, a membership organization dedicated to "improving taxpayer value, citizen understanding, and government accountability," released an evaluation of Project CHILD (see Feature). The evaluation shows that Project CHILD is contributing to greater reading and math achievement, especially among minority students, while reducing third grade retention. The fourth-year research measured the impact of Project CHILD on students' achievement on standardized reading and math tests, compared to the performance of those who were not Project CHILD students. (March 2)

Technology

Education Events, a K-12 conference series producer, will sponsor "The School Administrator Symposium" from May 18 through May 19 at the University of Southern California. Participants will study the role that entrepreneurship and technology play in education. [More-PR Newswire] (March 1)

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Innovations in the News

Arts Education
Arts education majors at the University of Arizona are using their weekends to learn how to be teachers. The Wildcat Art Program is a class where senior art students can prepare for teaching jobs after graduation by working as lead instructors in a Saturday art program for elementary and secondary school students. The University of Arizona is one of a few universities in the nation that offers art education students a secondary teaching certificate with a K-12 endorsement. [More-Arizona Daily Wildcat] (March 1)

Charter Schools
The charter school movement is gaining momentum in Southwest Florida. Charter schools are quickly reaching capacity, and many charter schools that have not been completed are already filling up with applications. Cape Coral Charter School South has not opened its doors yet, but already has accepted 500 pre-applications. [More-NBC 2 News] (Feb. 28)

Students at the Minnesota Business Academy, a charter school run by the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce and supported by the local business community, have taken over the school's cafeteria. The cafeteria had lost an average of $29,000 a year since the school opened four years ago. Students in the Enterprise Based Learning Program are managing the cafeteria, and it is now making a profit. [More-Pioneer Press] (March 1) (free registration)

Four historically under-performing San Diego city schools (CA) won unanimous approval from the school board to operate as charter schools in the fall. Each school earned a five-year charter. Some schools will offer an extended school year, longer days, reduced class sizes, and after school tutoring as part of their charter school packages. [More-The San Diego Union Tribune] (March 2)

Choice
At least half a dozen schools in Atlanta (GA) are blending home schooling and private education. Called "hybrid schools" by many, they are private schools that are open to home schooled children only two days each week. Organizers believe that this option affords parents and children the best of a home school environment and the rigor of a more structured school. Participating parents note that hybrid schools are a more affordable option than traditional private schools. [More-Atlanta Journal-Constitution] (March 1) (free registration)

Teacher Quality
A new partnership between Baylor University's education department (TX) and the Waco Independent School District is giving every candidate in the teacher-preparation program experience in the Waco school system. Immersion into the school system starts during the college freshman and sophomore years when candidates tutor public school students. As juniors they work with small groups of children, and as seniors they prepare and deliver entire lessons every day. [More-Education Week] (March 2) (free registration)

Long commutes may be influencing teachers in their decision to leave urban schools. A study by researchers at Stanford University and the State University of New York at Albany shows that the geographic proximity of teachers' schools to their homes may be a key factor in teacher attrition. Researchers found that New York City teachers who did not live in the city were five times more likely than residents to transfer to teaching positions outside the city. [More-Education Week] (March 2) (free registration)

Technology
Cell phones, pagers, portable email devices, and the Internet are changing the way that some teachers and schools are dealing with plagiarism and cheating. Teachers and schools are becoming savvy about how they catch and prevent academic dishonesty by purchasing "anti-cheating" software and using Internet search engines. [More-The Boston Globe] (Feb. 27)

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Last Modified: 08/20/2008