School for Arts in Learning (SAIL) Charter School
Happy National Charter Schools Week; the Transition to Teaching grant competition opened April 30th; the Department of Education releases a webcast on supplemental educational services; new regulations for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and non-regulatory guidance for parental involvement have been issued; the Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education is accepting applications for National Educator Workshops; and the New Bedford Whaling Museum opens an exhibit to mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of trade between Japan and the West.
Innovations in the News
Pennsylvania charter school gets positive students achievement results; plus information on Very Special Arts, supplemental educational services, parental choice, and magnet schools.
School for Arts in Learning (SAIL) Paints a Picture of Student Success
The orange and yellow building sits just up the road from the White House on 16th Street in Washington, DC. Inside, children get up to dance. Dancing turns to running as they leap toward academic achievement. Children examine the National's Capital, viewed as an extension of the school, as they paint or draw. They can listen to music or talk to each other, make things with their hands or walk around as part of the creative process. These auxiliary activities allow them to use their different learning styles through discussion, musical stimulation, tactile involvement, and movement. They are thinking critically while they learn to read, do math and science, or prepare to perform or produce a portfolio.
These are pictures of students learning through the arts at the School for Arts in Learning (SAIL), a public charter school. Established by WVSA arts connection—a nonprofit organization that has had an impact on the lives of students with special needs for over 20 years—SAIL was founded in 1998 in response to the perceived lack of quality, arts-infused education in District of Columbia public elementary schools.
The school focuses on developing the whole child—intellectually, emotionally, physically, and socially. For its 120 students, the student to teacher ratio is 8:1. The school also has an on-site psychologist, occupational therapist, and speech/language therapist, as well as full-time artists. Administrators, both from the school and the nonprofit organization that co-exists in the building, are sprinkled throughout the building. This means that when children walk across the hall, they see the principal, the receptionist, and others on a regular basis.
This integrated configuration of classrooms and workspace reflects the school's philosophy that the environment is part of learning. While there are blackboards in the classrooms, students may also be found drawing or painting on the windows, doors, and walls. The walls are also galleries for student work. In one classroom, the floor is being used to create a walk-through diagram of the digestive system. Using shapes and tape, students have laid out digestion's "pipes and organs" on the floor, starting with the tongue at the classroom door. Students learn the digestive system by strolling through it, taking the journey of a cookie through a first-grader.
SAIL conducts regular, comprehensive assessments of student development. These assessments are based on the most current DC Public Schools' standards of learning. All students take the DC-required standardized tests for their grade level. As a school, SAIL successfully achieved and exceeded 11 of its 12 accountability goals, according to a 2003 school performance report from the DC Public Charter School Board.
Any child in the District of Columbia is eligible to attend the school. Of those currently enrolled, about 75 percent have disabilities. The School for Arts in Learning has received grants from many local and national foundations. WVSA is an affiliate of the OII-funded Very Special Arts (VSA) program.
For more information, please view:
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.
President George W. Bush has Issued a Proclamation for National Charter Schools Week
President George W. Bush has issued a proclamation for National Charter Schools Week, declaring, "charter schools are an important part of our effort to improve the public school system and offer educational options to every family." (May 3)
A Webcast to Kick-Off National Charter Schools Week
A webcast, featuring U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige at the SAIL School (see feature) in Washington, DC, is the kick-off event for National Charter Schools Week. Across the nation, over a dozen states are holding commemorative events. (May 3)
Teaching Materials About Charters
Teaching materials about charter schools are available, including historical information on the charter school movement, important facts and figures, and a lesson plan. (April 29)
Transition to Teaching Grant Competition
The Transition to Teaching grant competition opened on April 30. The deadline for applications is June 14. The program aims to recruit talented individuals into teaching in high-need schools, and this year's competition addresses some school systems' slow hiring practices and other barriers to entry. (April 30)
Supplemental Educational Services Webcast
A webcast for SEA and LEA staff on implementing supplemental educational services is available on the U.S. Department of Education's website. (April 27)
New Regulations for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
New regulations for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) have been issued in final. They provide general guidelines for accepting "signed and dated written consent" in electronic format. (April 21)
Parental Involvement Non-Regulatory Guidance
Parental Involvement Non-Regulatory Guidance (MS Word, 408K) is now available on the U.S. Department of Education's website. The guidance is written to help states, districts, and schools meet the parental involvement requirements under Title I, Part A of ESEA as reauthorized by No Child Left Behind. (April 29)
Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education
The Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education is accepting applications for three National Educator Workshops in Berkeley, June 28-July 2, and Chicago and New York, July 12-16. The goal of the workshops is to help teachers build their students' critical thinking skills and perceptual abilities. The deadline for registration is June 7. (April 26)
New Bedford Whaling Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum, an OII grantee, has mounted an exhibit to mark the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Kanagawa, which opened trade, diplomatic, and cultural relations between Japan and the U.S. The exhibit shows the legacy of the whaling industry on these relationships, and follows the life of John Manjiro, the first person from Japan known to live and work in the United States. (April 16)
Innovations in the News
Career Connections Charter High in Lawrenceville (PA) posted the highest Pennsylvania System of School Assessment scores of any charter school in Allegheny County last year and exceeded the Pittsburgh Public Schools' scores in math and reading. [More-Pittsburgh Live] (April 27)
Lake Wales (FL) will have the state's first "conversion charter school system" with a superintendent of charter schools. Parents and teachers at five area schools voted to convert to charter school status. [More-The Ledger] (April 27)
The Akron (OH) Digital Academy, an online charter school, is giving $500,000 back to the school district. This is money left over from state aid the school received, because the charter school operated at a lower cost than the traditional schools. [More-Akron Beacon Journal] (April 26)
Arts in Education: Very Special Arts
An artistic outreach program for adults with disabilities has been launched by the Art Center at Fuller Lodge in collaboration with VSA New Mexico. The program focuses on building cognitive and social skills in addition to artistic skills. [More-Los Alamos Monitor] (April 26)
Thanks to an OII grant, the Wisconsin Very Special Arts Festival brought together adults with disabilities and local artists around the theme of "Rock 'n' Roll" in workshops of dance, creative writing, visual arts, and drama. [More-Fond Du Lac Reporter] (April 22)
Students at Maplewood Elementary School in Ocala (FL) have participated in the Very Special Arts Festival for nine years. Each year VSA donates money to schools that participate in activities around themes like this year's, "Where in the World Are We?" which focused on learning about different cultures and traditions. [More-Star Banner] (April 24)
A Very Special Arts program at Shenandoah University (WV) was geared to children, teenagers, and young adults living with learning disabilities, who worked with the university's theater, art, and music therapy students. [More-Winchester Star] (April 9)
Supplemental Educational Services
East Allen County Schools is one of six Indiana school districts selected for an on-site audit by the U.S. Department of Education. Auditors will be looking at the implementation of supplemental educational services, school choice, and other services for Title I students. [More-News-Sentinel] (April 21)
Hundreds of parents who want to participate in the federally-funded opportunity scholarship program attended an orientation session at the Washington Convention Center. [More-Washington Post] (free registration) (April 29)
Parents were notified through the newspaper that they should make an appointment with the principal to request a transfer or tutoring for next school year in six Muscogee County (GA) public schools. [More-Ledger-Enquirer] (April 25)
Bugg Elementary School (NC) has been named by Magnet Schools of America as the nation's top magnet school for the second year in a row. [More-NBC 17] (April 21)
Last Modified: 06/30/2011