The Education Innovator #16
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The Education Innovator
 June 16, 2003 • Number 16
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What's inside...
The Academy of American Studies
What's New
All state accountability plans approved.
Innovations in the News
Debating the cost of online education; plus information on virtual schools, school improvement, and charter schools.

The Academy of American Studies Weaves History into All Subjects for Student Success
The Academy of American Studies, a magnet school in New York City, was the first history high school in the country. It was founded in 1996 to encourage students' content learning and analytical thinking, while incorporating history into all lessons.

With American History as the centerpiece of a rigorous pre-college curriculum, students are required to take at least one U.S. History course at all times. Students study history every day during their four years at The Academy. While most students in public high schools spend only a brief amount of time on historical figures, The Academy spends up to six weeks on each of the major founders. Teachers select readings for the students that are different from the standard textbook. The readings reveal the personalities of the founders and make these historical figures come to life for the students. To complement the readings, students compose scholarly research papers that investigate a specific historical topic and make use of the best research available. Students also take annual trips to historical sites, such as Gettysburg.

Other subjects, however, are not overlooked, and students excel in most areas of the New York State Regents exams. Most recently, the percentage of students who passed biology was 100%; US History was 92%; and English was 90%. These percentages greatly surpass the citywide averages.

The curricula of these courses are integrated with U.S History. For example, in a science class, students learn about earthquakes and volcanoes and how natural disasters have impacted the course of history. In an art class, the teacher leads a discussion on architecture and its relation to urban life. Students sketch the buildings in the neighborhood and use photographs to build a historical context to better understand the development of their neighborhood and the city.

Teachers are attracted to the school because of the rich professional development it offers. The demanding professional development program consists of nine lecture-discussion sessions, held during the school year, in which a history scholar relates a specific period or theme to the overall course of U.S. history. History educators from the Gilder Lehrman Institute help translate this material into history content curricula that can be applied to the high school classroom. History educators lead discussions on how to apply content lessons to the classroom in order to best engage the interest of the students. The Academy's professional development has been funded by a Teaching American History grant administered by OII.

For more information on The Academy and for information on History High Schools, such as The Academy for American Studies, please go to: For information about the Teaching American History grant program, see


What's New
From OII

On June 10 the White House celebrated the approval of all State accountability plans under No Child Left Behind. More information about the celebration is available at, where you can read the press release, see a video of the President's remarks, and read the Secretary's online discussion.

Funding Opportunities

The grant competition for Parental Information and Resource Centers is now open. Applications for this program are due July 18, 2003. The competition is open to nonprofit agencies, including faith-based and community organizations, or consortia of nonprofit agencies and school districts (though not school districts alone). These centers will, among other things, inform the parents of children who attend schools needing improvement about their options. For more information, see

The Advanced Placement Incentives grant competition remains open. The applications for this program are due July 3, 2003. Incentive program grants are awarded to State educational agencies, local educational agencies, including charter schools that are LEAs, or national nonprofit educational entities to expand access to rigorous coursework for low-income students in grades 6-12. Funding will be used to prepare these students for success in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs. For information on how to apply, go to

The Advanced Placement Test Fee grant competition is also open. The deadline for applications is June 30, 2003. Grants are awarded to State educational agencies to cover part or all of the cost of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate test fees for low-income students. For information on how to apply, go to

The grant competitions for Models in Arts Education and Professional Development for Arts Education are still open. The deadline for both competitions is July 10, 2003. Grants will be awarded to local education agencies, including charter schools that are LEAs, that collaborate with at least one of the following: an institution of higher education; a state education agency; or a public or private nonprofit agency with a history of providing high quality professional development to public schools. For more information about these competitions, see and

The Teaching American History grant competition remains open, as well. The deadline is July 7, 2003. The competition is open to local education agencies (LEAs), including charter schools that are LEAs, in partnership with nonprofit history or humanities organizations. For information about how to apply, go to For a webcast with information about preparing the grant application package, go to


Innovations in the News

Virtual Schools
Contrary to popular belief, online education does not cost less than traditional schooling, according to virtual school leaders who revealed myths and barriers surrounding eLearning at a May 29 Innovations in Education Exchange in Washington, D.C., sponsored by OII. [More-eNews School Online] (June 2)

Wisconsin Virtual Academy, set to open this fall in a small, rural district in northern Ozaukee County, has more than 300 confirmed students who are coming from more than 100 districts around the state. [More-JS Online] (May 25)

School Improvement
The nation's schools are facing changes to meet the needs of the growing number of Hispanic children in public education. [] (June 3)

In an effort to meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law, several Illinois suburban high schools are ushering in programs, ranging from summer classes to freshman mentoring, to foster a sense of belonging. [More-The Chicago Tribune] (June 2)

Calling Baltimore County, Maryland's, middle schools a "weak link," Superintendent Joe A. Hairston is proposing an overhaul that would toughen instruction for sixth- to eighth-graders and focus their learning on core subjects such as language arts and math. [More-The Baltimore Sun] (June 2)

Charter Schools
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given $3 million to a nonprofit charter school start-up that plans to launch five high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area by 2006. The schools will target disadvantaged and minority students in low-income urban areas. [More-The Oakland Tribune] (June 4)

A new public charter school will open in Venice, California this fall. Approved by the Los Angeles Unified School District, Cornerstone Prep will be located at the Boys & Girls Club of Venice. Enrollment will be limited to 20 students per class in kindergarten through third grade and 24 students per class in grades four through six. [More-The Santa Monica Mirror] (June 5)

In a sign that the once far-fetched notion of "Charter Districts" is gaining traction, a forthcoming series of papers from the Education Commission of the States offers policymakers advice and encouragement in setting up their own versions of that emerging governance arrangement. [More-Education Week] (May 28)


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Last Modified: 04/26/2011