NEWSLETTERS
The Education Innovator #14
Volume III
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The Education Innovator
 April 18, 2005 • Number 14
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Feature
MATCH (Media and Technology Charter High) School, Boston, MA
What's New
Secretary Spellings testifies before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on lifelong learning; National Charter Schools Week Kickoff Celebration is to be held on May 2nd; Teaching American History grant competition now open; the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) produces SciGuides; Kid's College computer program combines academics with interest in sports; and the Association for Computing Machinery creates the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA).
Innovations in the News
A Massachusetts high school offers virtual Advanced Placement classes; plus information on charter schools, choice, closing the achievement gap, and teacher quality.

Advanced Placement Program Allows Students to Meet Their MATCH
For decades, 1001 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston was home to the "Ellis the Rim Man" automotive accessory shop. Now, the only accessories the building offers are ones to enrich the mind. The 90-year-old red brick building has been modernized and transformed into the bustling MATCH (Media and Technology Charter High) School, equipped with a solar paneled roof and filled with students participating in the innovative "Advanced Placement (AP) For All" program.

The MATCH School was the idea of Michael Goldstein, who opened the school's doors in 2000 after taking a Graduate School of Education course at Harvard University focusing on charter schools. Goldstein wondered if it would be possible to create a school that prepared low-income, minority students to succeed not only in high school and on standardized tests, but also in college. This thought became the basis of the MATCH School, whose mission is to reverse the underachievement of Boston's inner-city youth.

MATCH aims to produce students who are comfortable with, and capable in, the core subjects of mathematics, English, science, and history, and who understand the increasingly important role of technology in academics and broader society. Students use media and technology to augment their study of core subjects and the AP curricula. For example, as part of the regular ninth grade curriculum, students study aspects of earth science using the solar panels on the school's roof and the real-time photovoltaic system that collects data on such weather phenomena as temperature and wind speed, as well as the amount of solar energy that is being generated by the system.

The school population is 64 percent African-American, 28 percent Hispanic, and 8 percent White and Asian students. Seventy-five percent of the 180 students qualify for free or reduced price lunch. Nearly all students arrive at MATCH from the eighth grade having failed Massachusetts' MCAS exam, scoring in the lowest 10 percent in the state. However, after their sophomore year and after participating in an extensive tutoring program and challenging pre-AP curricula, these MATCH students rank first among those at the 30 open-admission Boston public high schools (schools that students choose to attend and that do not require an exam for admission).

MATCH received the opportunity to offer AP classes in 2003 after the school was chosen to participate in the Advanced Placement Incentive program funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement and designed to promote greater participation in AP courses and exams for minority and low-income students. MATCH turned this initiative into its "AP For All" program, where all students are required to study AP American History during their junior year, and AP Calculus, Biology, or English during their senior year. By 2006, the third year of the program, MATCH aims to have 50 percent of all the students who take an AP exam successfully pass it with a score of "three" or higher, which is equivalent to a "C" grade in college.

One of the main pillars of the school's AP program is its teacher mentoring component. Experienced suburban teachers from areas around Boston serve as long-term mentors for MATCH's AP teachers. Most MATCH teachers have master's degrees; most arrive with at least five years of overall teaching experience; but few have taught Advanced Placement. Mentor teachers, meanwhile, are familiar with AP curricula and usually have been identified with the help of the College Board. The goal is to sustain the partnership between MATCH and the mentors for several years in order to ensure consistency and stability with AP training and course planning.

Each week, all MATCH teachers break into subject area groups to share best practices from their classrooms and develop lesson plans. This process is called "vertical teaming." For example, MATCH English teachers discovered they needed to offer two new courses, one in fiction and one in nonfiction, to fully prepare students to take the AP English exam. Also, mathematics classes build upon one another from algebra to trigonometry, leading to AP Calculus, and a new tenth grade history course has been created to lay the foundation for AP American History in the eleventh grade.

The second pillar of the school's AP program is its tutoring component. Most tutors are recruited as part of "MATCH Corps," an AmeriCorps program that attracts recent college graduates to work as full-time tutors for one year. MATCH has recently built a dormitory-style living space on its top floor for these tutors. Each year, MATCH students participate in 100 hours of one-on-one tutoring to prepare them for the AP exam. Additionally, all tenth graders are tutored for 200 hours in English and mathematics through partnerships with Harvard University, Boston College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Boston University. Tutoring occurs after school and on the weekends on the MATCH campus. Many tutors are reimbursed for their time through federal financial aid in the form of work-study. MATCH students are rewarded with a solid academic foundation for the rigor of AP coursework.

Principal Charles Sposato states, "'AP For All' truly prepares our kids to succeed. We share the No Excuses Philosophy—if you can find a way to get kids to study hundreds and hundreds of hours, underprivileged students will succeed at very high levels."

Currently MATCH is the highest performing predominantly African-American high school in Massachusetts, with 64 percent of its students scoring "Proficient or Advanced" on the 2004 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS); 91 percent passing the MCAS on their first attempt; and 100 percent passing after a retake opportunity. This year, the full AP course roster is being taught at MATCH for the first time. A 10-year study by MIT and Boston University economists will examine the effectiveness of the "AP For All" program.

MATCH was awarded an Advanced Placement Incentive grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement in 2003. Michael Goldstein, MATCH's CEO and founder, presented at the Department's API Conference in March 2004 and at the National Charter Schools Conference in June 2004. MATCH will be the site of a National Charter Schools Week event in May (see What's New).

Resources: Note: The featured program is innovative but does not yet have evidence of general effectiveness from a rigorous evaluation. The success of the program may not be replicable, depending on unique conditions in differing locations.

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

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on lifelong learning. The Secretary noted that the No Child Left Behind Act is yielding results, but that the "old high school model" is not serving the nation's students as it should. The Secretary urged the public to "stop being captives of the past and start thinking like competitors and consumers." (April 14)

From OII

Charter Schools Week is May 1-7. OII has scheduled events for the week at high performing charter schools across the country. Sites include Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego San Francisco, and Washington, DC. The kickoff celebration download files MS Word (35K), will take place at 2:00 p.m. on May 2nd at Thurgood Marshall Academy in Washington, DC. For more information about the event, please contact Courtney Philips at 202-205-4499. To RSVP, email OII.RSVP@ed.gov with your name, title, organization address, and telephone number by April 27, 2005.

The Teaching American History (TAH) grant competition is now open. The purpose of the grant program is to raise student achievement by improving teachers' knowledge of traditional American history. The deadline for submitting applications is June 14, 2005.

Technology

Earlier this month, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) announced the creation of a new web-based resource. Called SciGuides, the NSTA calls the resource an online "science toolbox" for science educators. The project grew out of a program called SciLinks, designed in 1999 to help teachers find supplemental materials for science textbooks. SciGuides are broken up by subject, such as genetics or matter, and include links to over 100 websites with lesson plans, information sheets, and other materials. Each SciGuide is continually updated, and the websites they include are arranged by grade level. (April 11)

Students across the country are cheering at their computer screens. An interactive computer program called Kid's College, from the founders of the Learning Through Sports company, allows students to practice skills while playing their favorite sports. Teachers can program Kid's College so that students work on math and language arts questions at their grade level. When students click on a correct answer in the program, their computer screens become animated with a sport of their choice ­ basketball, baseball, soccer, football, or cheerleading. Students score a goal, earn a homerun, or perform a cheer to earn extra points. (April 18)

The Association for Computing Machinery, (ACM), an organization that promotes computing and IT disciplines, recently created the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) in order to support these teachers and help them get the tools they need to reach students interested in computer science careers. CSTA offers teachers resources such as curriculum standards, professional development opportunities, best practice models, and research on state-of-the-art technology. (April 18)

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Innovations in the News

Advanced Placement
Beginning in the fall, students at Brockton High School (MA) will be able to take Advanced Placement (AP) courses, but they will not be in a traditional classroom. The school will offer AP and other classes through Virtual High School, Inc. Students will be able to take AP Economics, Spanish, Statistics, Environmental Science, and Computer Science courses—all of which are not currently offered at the school. Brockton students will interact with other students and teachers from across the country and overseas. Schools in China, Japan, and Brazil have signed on with the program. Each week students will receive assignments from their teachers and will converse with their teachers over email. All Virtual High School Advanced Placement courses follow a national AP curriculum. [More-The Enterprise] (April 11)

Charter Schools
Many charter schools in Connecticut received good news about their performance from a recent report by Western Michigan University. According to the report, students in the state's charter schools generally are making larger gains on state standardized tests than other public school students from the same cities and towns. Out of the six states on which the study focused, Connecticut's results were the most positive. The study tracked students' progress on the Connecticut Mastery Test over a number of years, and was commissioned by the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, an organization that strongly supports charter schools. Currently 14 charter schools have been created under the state's nine-year-old charter school law. [More-The Hartford Courant] (April 7)

Twelve years after its charter school law was adopted, Georgia is now including funds for charter school facilities and emergency expenses in the state budget. Advocates admit the amount is modest, but that it could lead to an increase for charter schools in the future. Changes to the law also have been made. Charter schools may now draw students from more than one school system, and two or more public schools may turn into charter schools. If these schools are added, a network of charter elementary and middle schools could be formed that would feed into a charter high school. [More-The Atlanta Journal-Constitution] (April 9) (free registration)

Seniors at the LEAP (Leadership, Education, and Partnership) Academy Charter High School in Camden (PA) have a special reason to be proud. They are the first class to graduate from the school, a class in which each of the nearly 40 students has been accepted into college, including many Ivy League universities. LEAP serves 246 eighth through twelfth grade students and its curriculum focuses on math, science, and technology. A LEAP elementary school feeds into the high school. [More-The Philadelphia Inquirer] (April 14) (free registration)

Several public charter schools are slated to be built in east Mesa (AZ) due to the area's rapid growth. The school district's total enrollment is currently 76,000 students. The charter schools will operate independent of the Mesa Unified School District. [More-KOLD News] (April 11)

One of the first charter schools in Indianapolis (IN) just received a new look. Chartered in 2002, Irvington Community School moved into a new building this January, which was designed to be a focal point of the Irvington community on Indianapolis' east side. The school boasts a challenging curriculum and community feel. The long-term goal is for the school to become part of an alternative school system for the community, with many new buildings and a high school. ICS currently serves students in kindergarten through seventh grade and is sponsored by Ball State University. [More-Charter Schools Service Center] (April 18)

A new charter high school in downtown Tucson (AZ) shows its students the connections between academics and their surrounding community. City High School opened this academic year with 85 ninth and tenth graders and six teachers. The school plans to serve grades nine through twelve within the next two years. City High adopted a City Works program, which was designed to engage students in learning through activities where they contribute to their community. Students and teachers participate in community-based projects. [More-Rural Roots] (Winter 2005)

Closing the Achievement Gap
Many Hoosiers are talking about what might be the largest jump in high school graduation requirements in a decade. The "Core 40" bill recently passed the Indiana Senate, and if enacted, would affect the graduating class of 2011. At this point, Core 40 is an option in which nearly 65 percent of the state's students participate. The new bill would require all students to participate in the Core 40 program, which entails more intense coursework and a tougher diploma. Those students who struggle with the Core 40 diploma would be able to opt out under the law, although admission to the state's four-year public universities would depend on the diploma. Currently Ball State, Indiana State, and the University of Southern Indiana require the Core 40 diploma for admission. Indiana and Purdue Universities plan to adopt the same policy. [More-Indianapolis Star] (April 9)

Teacher Quality
With the help of the district's teachers' union, Superintendent of Miami-Dade County Rudy Crew, is building a new community along with teachers' interest in joining it. It's called the "School Improvement Zone," consisting of the 39 most troubled schools in the county. Crew is offering teachers 20 percent more pay in exchange for teachers to work 20 percent more hours at these troubled schools. Crew calls it "an internal Peace Corps." Teachers teach an extra hour of class or attend professional development each day in exchange for the boost in pay, which amounts to nearly $10,000 annually on average. So far, 177 teachers have transferred to the School Improvement Zone since December. [More-The New York Times] (April 13) (free registration)

A Louisiana school district has found an unconventional way to recruit and retain high-quality teachers: comfortable buses. The Plaquemines Parish school district approved the plan to buy a bus so it can offer free, round trip rides from Belle Chasse, a suburb of New Orleans, to schools in the district. Officials say that rough roads and the remote location make it difficult for the district to recruit teachers. Many teachers have to travel up to an hour to get to work. A recent state accountability report helped launch the bus idea after revealing that Plaquemines Parish placed 60th out of 66 state school districts for its number of highly qualified teachers. Highly qualified teachers must be certified in each core subject they teach, according to No Child Left Behind. [More-Education Week] (April 13)

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Last Modified: 08/13/2009