The Education Innovator #41
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The Education Innovator
 December 8, 2003 • Number 41
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What's inside...
New Visions Charter School
What's New
Secretary Paige is keynote speaker for Innovations in Education Exchange; New Leaders for New Schools calls for nominations for its 3-year training program; a new website in Minnesota offers charter school data such as test scores and demographics; Black Alliance for Educational Options welcomes two new chapters; the Hispanic Council for Educational Reform Options releases "Choice, Change, and Progress: School Choice and the Hispanic Education Crisis;" two charter schools complete the first semester on the shared Kingsman Charter School Campus; and Newark Charter School opens doors to its renovated building.
Innovations in the News
Arkansas Virtual Academy receives a charter as a public school; plus more information on charter schools and Advanced Placement.

New Visions Charter School Trains Teachers from Traditional Public Schools
Educating children can often be a process of unlocking each individual child's strengths. It can also be a process of unlocking a school's strengths and sharing the key with others. The New Visions Charter School, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, implements a program that builds on the underlying learning readiness in children. The success of this approach has created a demand for this charter school to train teachers from traditional schools throughout Minnesota and in other states.

Since 1999, the Minnesota Learning Resource Center, developed by New Visions, has taught staff from 45 Minnesota public schools, and 74 public schools in other states, in the "SMART/Boost Up" program. "SMART/Boost-Up," begun in 1987, increases learning readiness so that all children, but particularly those who are underachieving, gain word recognition and vocabulary skills by combining physical and classroom activities.

In addition, New Visions trains teachers in the A Chance to Learn Curriculum. The curriculum, developed by A Chance to Grow, a health care agency that fosters the development of innate abilities following the normal course of each child's brain and body development, has been expanded by New Visions into a full-day program for kindergartners through eighth graders.

Over the last five years, 100 public school teachers from 16 different school districts in North Carolina have attended New Visions' four-day training workshops on the Chance to Learn Curriculum, which has been replicated in schools in Minnesota, California, North Carolina, Georgia, and Wisconsin.

As a result of this training, Drexel Elementary School in Drexel, North Carolina, for example, implemented the Chance to Learn Curriculum in all of its first and second grade classrooms. All nine of the first grade classes made an average reading gain of one year and nine months, after implementing the curriculum 30 minutes a day over the school year. The nine second-grade classrooms made an average reading gain of one year and five months, after only using the curriculum through February.

The New Visions School is committed to promoting cost-effective, multi-disciplinary programs and models to help parents and professionals serve students better. The goals of the New Visions School include:

  • improving vision and auditory skills to increase reading ability;
  • integrating multi-disciplined developmental intervention into the curriculum;
  • striving for reading gains in excess of one year;
  • giving students the academic tools in order to function independently; and
  • providing students with a safe and secure environment for learning.
All children at New Visions are involved in SMART/Boost Up. Other programs offered at the school include the Hemisphere Specific Auditory Stimulation program for children with difficulty perceiving, processing, and retaining speech sounds, and Vision Therapy directed by developmental optometrists.

On average, students enrolled in New Visions make a 1.3-year reading gain. There is a full-time science teacher and a nationally recognized science curriculum that includes many environmental, off-sight science experiences. New Visions also integrates technology into all areas of the curriculum; there is an up-to-date computer lab in the school with a mini lab in each classroom.

The New Visions School received a grant from OII's Public Charter Schools Grant Program in 2003 to expand implementation activities in urban and rural schools and conduct the first full replication of SMART/Boost-up with a scientifically based evaluation component. A grant from OII also supports New Visions' training of educators from traditional public schools to use its method for increasing reading skills among children in K-3.

Note: The featured innovation is being studied through a scientifically based evaluation to determine replicability. The success of the project described may not be replicable, depending on unique conditions in differing locations.


What's New
Secretary Paige's Speech from OII's Innovations in Education Exchange
Secretary of Education Rod Paige was the keynote speaker for OII's Innovations in Education Exchange, December 2nd, at the Sumner School. In speaking on the topic, "Closing the Teacher Quality Gap," the Secretary said, "If we're serious about closing the achievement gap...then we need to get serious about closing the teacher quality gap." (Dec. 1)

New Leaders for New Schools
New Leaders for New Schools is calling for nominations to its 3-year training program to support the next generation of outstanding urban public school leaders. Please visit their website for deadlines, a schedule of information sessions, criteria, and the application. (Dec.3)

Minnesota Charter Schools Innovative Website
The Center for School Change, the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools, and the EdVisions Cooperative have developed a new website that offers Minnesota charter school data such as test scores, demographics, and student-teacher ratios. For more information, go to Center for School Change and select "Profiles of Minnesota Charter Schools." (Nov. 2003)

Black Alliance for Educational Options
The Black Alliance for Educational Options continues to grow with the addition of two new chapters: South Carolina and Tampa. (Nov. 2003)

Hispanic Council for Educatonal Reorm Options
The Hispanic Council for Educational Reform Options recently released a report, "Choice, Change, and Progress: School Choice and the Hispanic Education Crisis," by Jennifer Aguirre and Matthew Ladner. (Nov. 2003)

Richard E. Thompson Kingsman Charter School
December marks the end of the first semester on the Richard E. Thompson Kingsman Charter School Campus in Washington, DC. This renovation project of the Charter Schools Development Corporation is the home of not one, but two, charter schools now housed in the building that had been a neighborhood eyesore. (Dec. 1)

Newark, New Jersey Charter School
Newark Charter School (NJ) has opened the doors to its renovated school building in downtown Newark after three years in trailers on the site of a Boys and Girls Club. The school's goal is to provide a high quality college preparatory education in a structured, safe environment. (Nov. 26)


Innovations in the News

Charter Schools
Arkansas Virtual Academy recently received a charter as a public school. Students in kindergarten through eighth grade are eligible to attend in 2004-05, and about 1,500 students are expected to enroll, although there is no limit. [More-The Northwest Arkansas Daily News] (Nov. 20)

The Marblehead Community Charter School will add a wing and open its doors to fourth-graders in September. The 9-year-old school, now serving grades 5 through 8, will take advantage of a federal loan guarantee program for charter schools to construct a fine-arts center, which will include auditorium seating for 450, art and music rooms, and two fourth grade classrooms to accommodate 44 additional students. [More-The Marblehead Reporter] (Nov. 20)

After only two years, Bonita Springs Charter School in Florida is a full-scale, 894-student school with a new 60,000-square-foot facility. Its quick physical transformation was matched by quick academic achievement. It was acknowledged as one of just six Lee County public schools that met standards under the No Child Left Behind Act. [More-The Naples Daily News] (Nov. 21)

Advanced Placement
Education writer, Jay Mathews, recommends that parents shop and compare schools. He explains the "challenge index" for assessing school quality that is based on the number of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests taken by students in a high school. [More-The Washington Post] (Dec. 2)

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Last Modified: 04/26/2011