The Education Innovator #36
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The Education Innovator
 November 3, 2003 • Number 36
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  Past issues
What's inside...
University-Assisted Schools
What's New
The U.S. Department of Education has just released non-regulatory guidance on Title I Services to Eligible Private School Children; EdVentures, Inc. will be holding a fall conference entitled "K-12 Summit on Leadership, Innovation and Technology" on December 8-10; reminder to fill out the National Charter School Conference topics survey.
Innovations in the News
Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options, a recent recipient of an OII grant, is working to expand school choice to Hispanic children; plus information on school leadership, charter schools, math, and teacher quality.

University-Assisted Schools Aim to Blend Needs of Students and the Community with Education Research
You get ready for the monthly parent meeting at your first- and second-graders' school. Your children can go with you because childcare is provided. Your children can do their homework in social studies, based on the rich history of Philadelphia, or in Spanish, which your children started to learn in kindergarten. At the meeting, you can contribute to the Home and School Association that links the school with your neighborhood and one of the leading universities in the country. This is an example of what happens at Penn Alexander, a university-assisted school with the University of Pennsylvania.

"University-assisted schools" are partnerships linking universities interested in supporting school development to neighboring schools that are usually in disadvantaged communities. The concept was codified in 1989 in the first issue of Universities and Community Schools journal, published at the University of Pennsylvania. The journal editors had the vision that by 2001, the university-assisted school model would flourish in "an impressive variety of innovative forms." The idea of a mutually beneficial, collaborative partnership among communities, higher education institutions, and public schools, where education can be improved through the application of research-based practice, has grown over the last 14 years and has already spread to other countries as diverse as South Africa and Australia.

With the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001, and its call to ensure all students are proficient in reading and math within 12 years, districts may wish to use university- assisted schools to better organize and manage instruction. Already in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission asked the University of Pennsylvania to be one of seven outside "educational management organizations" to oversee 45 elementary and middle schools with the weakest performance on state assessments.

In July 2002, Penn began a three-year partnership with three elementary schools in West Philadelphia. The partnership focuses on five domains with the goal of achieving and sustaining high academic standards: 1) curriculum, 2) professional development, 3) leadership, 4) student assessment, and 5) school climate.

One of these schools is Penn Alexander, a school dedicated to providing a high-quality, enriching public education through a research-based instructional program that nurtures life-long learners and productive citizens. The school opened its new building in September 2002 with the plan to house 700 students in grades pre K-8 by 2004. The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities has hailed this university-assisted school as the "gold standard" for bringing the most effective, research-proven educational practices into the classroom.

Another example of a university-assisted school is the Preuss School, a charter school that operates on the campus of the University of California San Diego. It was established to help meet the need of preparing disadvantaged students for admission to the university. The first applicants to Preuss submitted essays and portfolios of their work, and parents were required to be committed to actively supporting their children's school success. A lottery was held to fill the 150 slots from 500 applicants. At Preuss, students wear uniforms. Classes, the school day, and the school year are all longer than in a typical public school. The first class will graduate this year, in the spring of 2004.

On October 30 and 31, 2003, the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education held a conference on the topic of university-assisted schools to further explore the idea and strengthen a network of university-assisted schools from across the country. Thomas Corwin, Associate Deputy Under Secretary for OII, was a panel moderator at the conference.

For more information, please visit

  • University-Assisted Schools Conference
  • Penn Alexander School
  • The Preuss School
  • Universities and Community Schools
Note: The featured innovation answers the question, "What is it?" not "What works?" The program is interesting and innovative, but, because implementation of the concept is relatively new, it does not have evidence of general effectiveness from a rigorous evaluation. The success of the projects described may not be replicable, depending on unique conditions in differing locations.


What's New
Title I Services to Eligible Private School Children Non-Regulatory Guidance
The U. S. Department of Education has just released non-regulatory guidance on Title I Services to Eligible Private School Children to assist public and private school officials with implementing No Child Left Behind. For more information, go to: Title I Non-Regulatory Guidance.

EduVentures, Inc. Fall Conference
EduVentures, Inc. will be holding a fall conference entitled "K-12 Summit on Leadership, Innovation and Technology" on December 8-10, 2003 in Los Angeles, CA. Through interactive learning opportunities and real-world case studies, the summit will define the leadership challenges facing schools in areas such as accountability, capacity, recruitment, training, and learning outcomes and will demonstrate how leading educators are improving school performance at the classroom, school, and district levels. For more information, go to: EduVentures, Inc. Fall Conference.

National Charter School Conference Topic Survey Reminder
Reminder: Please fill out your survey on which topics should be featured at the National Charter School Conference. The survey can be completed online at: National Charter School Conference Topic Survey.


Innovations in the News

School Choice
If Hispanic parents are given more choices, they are likely to see their children to do better in school. That is the underlying assumption of a new nonprofit organization (and recent OII grantee), the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options or Hispanic CREO. [More-Education Week] (Oct 15)

A controlled choice program in Hillsborough, FL has schools competing for students. [More-St. Petersburg Times] (Oct 24)

School Leadership
By giving principals the power to make decisions, Edmonton has become a model for all of North America. [More-The Edmonton (Canada) Journal] (Oct 19)

Boise and Meridian, ID school district officials say that their new partnership is a win-win situation, addressing key issues for both districts. For example, Meridian students participate in Boise's gifted and talented program. [More-The Idaho Statesman] (Oct 23)

Anne Arundel County public schools (MD) and Harvard University are partnering to examine how a mixture of business and education practices can be used to improve urban schools. [More-Baltimore Sun] (Oct 21)

Charter Schools
The New Technology High School in California has received a $446,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The funds, awarded by the Charter Schools Office of the California Department of Education, will be used to buy technical equipment and beef up the school's career and college planning programs. [More-The Sacramento Bee] (Oct 21)

The Athenium Academy, a Florida charter school, is the first public Greek immersion school in the United States. The school opened three years ago and has grown from 27 students to 105 in kindergarten through fourth grade. [More-Tallahassee Democrat/AP] (Oct 19)

Supplemental Educational Services
Fifteen schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul, identified as underperforming, will be required to pay as much as $1,500 per low-income student to get taxpayer-paid tutoring from a state-approved list of groups, which may include for-profit companies and religious groups. Parents will get the opportunity to sign up for this program next month. [More-Pioneer Press] (October 30)

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Last Modified: 04/26/2011