The Education Innovator #14
Volume II
Archived Information

The Education Innovator
 April 19, 2004 • Number 14
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What's inside...
Victory Schools
What's New
The Little Rock School (AR) district receives $1.3 million grant to improve student performance in Advanced Placement courses; the next broadcast of Education News Parents Can Use will air April 20; President Bush announces a new plan to strengthen math and science education; a new study focusing on the need for math instruction is released for Math Awareness Month (April); the Department is partnering with faith-based leaders to help parents of ELL students learn more about NCLB; the U.S. Department of Labor and two partners join to offer dual credit to technical trade students; the Federal government offers website for after-school activities; and OII charter school grantee will speak at annual conference of Council of Development Finance Agencies.
Innovations in the News
Victory Schools, a private education management firm, offers public/private partnerships as way to improve public school students' success; plus information on Advanced Placement, charter schools, school choice, and private schools.

Victory Schools Targets Public/Private Partnerships for Student Success
Every time a child learns, it is a victory—a victory over ignorance, a victory over poverty, and a victory for opening a world of knowledge. This is the goal of Victory Schools, a private, education management and consulting company that aims to provide high-quality, personalized service to public schools and school districts.

Starting in New York State in 1999, Victory opened New York's first charter school, Sisulu Children's Academy in Harlem. Just three years after opening this first school, the percentage of children at all Victory schools who scored above the 50th percentile on national tests of basic reading, math, and language skills increased from 16 percent to 42 percent. In 2003, two of Victory's schools—Merrick Academy and Roosevelt Children's Academy—ranked #1 and #2 among all new charter schools serving high-need students in New York on the fourth grade English Language Arts exam. The Roosevelt and Merrick schools also ranked #1 and #4, respectively, among the same schools on the New York state science tests.

In 2001, Victory created a public/private partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education, the Baltimore City Public School System, and the Baltimore Teachers Union to reform the Westport elementary/middle school. This partnership overcame many barriers when all of these stakeholders joined together for the purpose of helping children learn. The president of the Baltimore Teachers Union commented, "...we view this as an opportunity to create new models for our schools and to implement exemplary best practices that will shape the way we approach learning outcomes." Today, at Baltimore's Westport Academy, seventh graders' performance in math ranks above the national average on the TerraNova exam.

Victory's latest venture has been to partner with the School District of Philadelphia to redesign under-performing schools. In 2002, for example, Victory began working with three elementary and two middle schools. At one of the middle schools, Thomas FitzSimons, Victory designed and implemented two single-sex academies: FitzSimons Young Women's Leadership Academy and FitzSimons Young Men's Leadership Academy. FitzSimons is a school with a rich history, counting Bill Cosby as one of its graduates. However, in 2001, it started with a very low base of student test scores. Only eight percent of eighth graders met or exceeded state standards on the Pennsylvania System of State Assessments in reading, and only two percent achieved the standards in math.

In 2003, the TerraNova exam was administered to students at all the Victory schools in Philadelphia at the beginning and end of the school year. The test score comparison showed that the students scoring at or above the national average increased by 8.9 percent in math, 7.3 percent in language, and 7.6 percent in science. With these gains in mind, Philadelphia called again on Victory to manage another middle school and to assist in creating two new small high schools in North Philadelphia. Recently, TIME magazine gave Victory an A- as the best provider of school management services in Philadelphia. A Philadelphia community leader remarked, "We have found [Victory Schools] to epitomize what we would like the public schools in our community to be."

Victory's team of educators draws upon currently identified "best practices and products." Their curriculum designs emphasize researched elements such as phonics, phonemic awareness, comprehension, and explicit writing instruction. Other components include "hands-on" science and technology, authentic texts, and a Core Knowledge sequence that is aligned with individual state standards.

Victory Schools manages charter schools, as well as other public schools, providing parents with small school options or, in the case of FitzSimons Middle School, a single-sex school option.

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


What's New
Little Rock Students to Benefit from Education Grant
The Little Rock School District has been awarded a $1.3 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education to help its low-income students have greater access to, and perform better in, advanced courses. The grant is part of the Advanced Placement Incentives program administered by OII. (April 12)

Department's Education News Parents Can Use TV
The next broadcast of the Department's Education News Parents Can Use TV program will focus on reforming high schools. The program will air on April 20th from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. (April 14)

Better Education for Better Jobs
President George W. Bush announced a new plan to strengthen math and science education to ensure that students have what they need to succeed in college and on the job. (April 6)

Math Awareness Month
April is Math Awareness Month, and the Partnership for Learning and Mass Insight Education have issued a new study that reveals the public wants more math in schools as part of the focus on student achievement. (April 6)

U.S. Department of Education Joins Faith-Based Leaders in San Antonio to Kick Off Informational Initiative for Parents
The U.S. Department of Education is teaming with faith-based leaders to give information about No Child Left Behind to parents of English language learners, starting with a Declaration of Rights, which includes the right to school choice and supplemental educational services. (April 7)

KidZ Online
Los Angeles Trade Technical College has partnered with Nortel Networks KidZ Online and the U.S. Department of Labor Job Corps to offer students college credit/dual enrollment courses. Job Corps will enroll the first 150 students from its Los Angeles Center. (April 12)

After-school Activities and Advice for Parents
The federal government has a website devoted to after-school activities and advice for parents. The site has six sections: Running a Program; Keeping Current (resource information); Planning Activities; Community Links; Sites for Kids & Teens; and Question/Comments. (April 13)


Innovations in the News

Advanced Placement
Deputy Under Secretary Nina Rees announced a grant to six schools in the Little Rock School District that will be used to train teachers of Advanced Placement courses, with the goal of adding academic rigor to the schools' offerings. [More-Arkansas News Bureau] (April 13)

The American International School of Muscat (Oman) held a meeting to inform students and parents about Advanced Placement offerings because "the most competitive universities in the U.S. and around the world want to see students who take the most challenging curriculum possible," according to the school's principal. [More-Times of Oman] (April 13)

The principal at Comstock Park High School (MI) has proposed that the school offer Advanced Placement courses through the Michigan Virtual High School. [More-Grand Rapids Press] (April 1)

For more information, please view: Charter School Facilities
The problem of finding and financing adequate facilities for charter schools, some fear, may retard their growth. Two proposed solutions are 1) improving access to capital and 2) establishing the nonprofit equivalent of real estate investment trusts. [More-Education Next] (April 8)

For more information, please view: Charter Schools
New York State Senator Malcolm Smith has submitted an application for a charter school in Far Rockaway, Queens. He has the support of 101 residents, who signed a petition, as well as community religious leaders. [More-Newsday] (April 9)

Japanese educators, business people, and university students are studying U.S. charter schools as an alternative to standardized education practices in Japan. The Center to Promote Japanese-Style Charter Schools has been influential in this movement. [More-The Washington Times] (April 8)

Alianza Charter School in Watsonville, CA, wants to sue the school district over its pending move to another site across town. At stake is the right of charter schools to pursue their mission without interference from the traditional school district. [More-Santa Cruz Sentinel] (April 13)

For more information, please view: Choice
Marcela Garcini, senior field organizer for the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options, is using an OII grant to bring the choice provisions of No Child Left Behind to the attention of Latino parents. [More-Dallas Morning News] (April 9)

Rochester expects to enroll all 2,400 rising kindergartners through a limited school choice plan. Parents choose their top three schools from the third of the city where they live, and the fourth school can be anywhere in the city. [More-Democrat and Chronicle] (April 7)

For more information, please view: Private Schools
Top public schools in Singapore, the Anglo-Chinese School and Chinese High School, have to turn hundreds of foreign students away because they do not have enough places. To meet the demand, the schools will start private schools: ACS International and Hwa Chong International. [More-Channel News Asia] (April 12)

York (PA) City School board members are considering a proposal to allow students from a private school, York Country Day School, to play on the public school's William Penn Senior High School football team. [More-York Daily Record] (April 14)

For more information, please view: Top

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Last Modified: 06/28/2011