The Education Innovator #41
Volume II
Archived Information

The Education Innovator
 November 1, 2004 • Number 41
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What's inside...
Arts and Technology Academy Charter School (DC)
What's New
The National Urban League and the Black Alliance for Educational Options have been awarded grants by the U.S. Department of Education to inform parents about their options under NCLB; the U.S. Department of Education is looking for artifacts of good practice for a toolkit on the implementation of services to private school students and teachers under NCLB; Rep. Boehner discusses the progress of the DC School Choice Incentive program; Creating the Capacity for Change, a new book by Ted Kolderie, is available free; and a study by the Reason Foundation shows that competition between public and privately managed schools in Philadelphia has benefited all public schools.
Innovations in the News
Decatur High School's (IN) Advanced Placement courses will be amplified by an $8,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation for Education, plus information about Advanced Placement, charter schools, education reform, education technology, and teacher quality.

The Arts and Technology Academy: The Power of a "Fresh Start"
Sometimes, events that seem to be failures turn out to be opportunities. One such event occurred in 1998, when Richardson Elementary School in Washington, D.C. closed its doors due to low enrollment and low academic achievement. Parents and community leaders were determined that from Richardson's ashes a new, innovative school would rise that could propel its students toward academic success.

The result was the Arts and Technology Academy (ATA), a charter school that aims to foster academic achievement for urban, minority students in order to close the achievement gap between black and Hispanic students and white students. The school also believes in a positive school environment that emphasizes respect, cooperation, and enthusiasm among its students.

One of the fundamental ways that ATA strives to improve student achievement is by increasing instruction time. Students enrolled in the Arts and Technology Academy enjoy a longer school day than most other public school students; their day is seven and a half hours long, compared to six and a half for most students. Additionally, the school year has been extended to 200 days a year—about 20 days more than a typical academic year.

The charter school's academic program was designed by the Mosaica Corporation, which manages 24 charter school programs nationally. Mosaica provides a structured curriculum in all of the basic academic areas: Reading, Writing, Spelling, Math, Science, History and Social Studies. In addition to these subjects, all students learn Spanish.

The school also offers arts and technology courses. The arts-based program was implemented following research that found students taking art and music tended to perform better in academic subjects as well. Students may choose arts classes from a daily offering of choir, speech, drama, dance, music, journalism, and video production. Students are also coached to develop computer literacy, and they have widespread access to the Internet, an important tool that is often unavailable to students who do not have computers at home. Toward this end, one personal computer is available for every three students in a classroom.

The success of any new program depends on its implementation. ATA relies on frequent self-inspection and adjustment in order to ensure success. From the beginning, ATA's former principal, Anthony Jackson, placed strong emphasis on data analysis and evidence-based methodology. He monitored teacher and student performance closely in order to determine what changes needed to be made—practices that continue today.

To encourage high-level performance from teachers, the school devotes 15 days a year to professional development, and teachers meet with the assistant principals weekly. The assistant principals also monitor classroom activities and evaluate teacher performance. The teachers are satisfied with the program, and teacher turnover has been very low.

The Arts and Technology Academy has seen progress since it opened. In 2000, 35 percent of students were reading at or above grade level; in 2003 59 percent were reading at those levels. In math performance, 20 percent were at or above grade level in 2000, compared to 50 percent in 2003. In addition to increased student achievement, daily average attendance is now 95 percent, and behavior referrals have dropped from 43 to 24 per year.

Not only are the students benefiting from the school, but their parents also seem happy. The school's waiting list and the large audiences for student performances demonstrate the great demand for the school. Parents are now requesting that the school extend its program to the middle school level.

The Arts and Technology Academy continues to be involved with the community that turned this school around. The school offers adult education classes and seeks to involve parents in a variety of their children's activities.

The school also offers an on-site before and after school care program, O.A.S.I.S. (Opportunities After School for Academic Success), which supports extra academic help and other activities for healthy development. The students who participate in O.A.S.I.S. have a full schedule after school: snack, homework time, computer lab, arts and crafts, and outside free play activities. During homework time, a small group of students goes to a classroom with a leader who is available for tutoring. Also, students who need extra help can work with the program's director, Valeria Benton.

The Arts and Technology Academy is one of the schools featured in OII's book, Innovations in Education: Successful Charter Schools. The Office of Innovation and Improvement funds such charter schools through the Charter Schools grant program.

Resources: Note: The featured program is an example of one charter school's educational approach and is described to help schools implement the provisions of No Child Left Behind. The program is innovative, but does not necessarily have evidence of general effectiveness from a rigorous evaluation. The success of the program may not be replicable, depending on unique conditions in differing locations.


What's New
OII Awards Grant to the National Urban League
The National Urban League has been awarded an OII two-and-half year grant of $2.7 million dollars to improve student reading achievement and increase urban communities' knowledge of No Child Left Behind. (Oct. 26)

OII Awards Grant to the Black Alliance for Educational Options
The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) was awarded an OII 5-year grant of $2.5 million to continue outreach to parents about their options under No Child Left Behind, including public school choice and supplemental educational services. (Oct. 26)

Seeking Samples for U.S. Department of Education Toolkit
The U.S. Department of Education is preparing a toolkit for technical assistance to local educational agencies and private school officials on the implementation of Title I, Part A for eligible private school students, their teachers, and their families. Please submit samples of forms, letters, practices or other materials from which others might learn to research associate Anna Hurd at by November 5. (Oct. 28)

Creating the Capacity for Change Released
Charter school pioneer Ted Kolderie has released a new book, Creating the Capacity for Change. It provides such information as "how to create a self-improving institution," by: changing schools so they will motivate students, enlarging districts' capacity to create new schools, creating new entities to authorize new schools, and letting teachers lead the learning. It is available free, while supplies last, and is on the Education/Evolving website. (Oct. 26)

Study of Philadelphia's Public-Private School Management Initiative
Lisa Snell, Education Director of the Reason Foundation, has examined evidence from Philadelphia's public-private school management initiative. She writes, "Competition between public and privately managed schools in Philadelphia over the past two years has allowed all public schools to benefit..." as exhibited by test score gains by Philadelphia students, which are greater than average student gains in Pennsylvania. OII recently co-hosted a conference with the School District of Philadelphia on this same topic. (Oct. 1)


Innovations in the News

Advanced Placement
Decatur Central High School's (IN) Advanced Placement courses will be amplified by an additional $8,000 grant from the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation for Education to extend a portion of the program to the middle school level. [More-Mooresville/Decatur Times] (Oct. 6)

Some St. Joseph's students in Brownsville, TX, are top performers on the football field and high performers in the classroom, where they take Advanced Placement courses. [More-Brownsville Herald] (Oct. 27)

Charter Schools
Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School of Excellence and Hampden Regional Charter School were two of five proposed charter schools invited to submit final applications to the Massachusetts Department of Education. [More-The Republican] (Oct. 25)

Education Reform
At Cristo Rey, a private Catholic high school in inner city Chicago, every graduate is accepted into college. Tuition is covered by private sector donations and student employment at corporations all over the city, which is part of the work-study curriculum. [More-60 Minutes II] (Oct. 27) See also The Education Innovator, May 24, 2004

Laurel Highlands High School (PA) has started the National Academy Foundation program, a "school within a school, "which features an Academy of Travel and Tourism and an Academy of Finance. The program includes a paid internship and a college-level course in addition to a full academic course load. A technology academy and an Advanced Placement academy are planned for 2005. [More-Herald Standard] (Oct. 27)

Education Technology/Ready to Learn TV
Oil City High School (PA) unveiled its new technology lab, which replaces a former metal shop. The lab contains nine workstations with equipment in such areas as robotics, aerodynamics, hydraulics, and digital photography. The lab was funded by a Fund for the Improvement of Education grant. [More-The Derrick] (Oct. 16)

The "PBS Kids Share a Story" literacy campaign is visiting Pacific Air Force bases to underscore the importance of sharing stories and engaging in other language-rich activities with children at an early age. Visitors include Clifford, Arthur, and other characters from the OII-funded Ready to Learn TV programs. [More-Stars and Stripes] (Oct. 24)

PBS has picked up 65 episodes of the new Ready to Learn TV program in Spanish and English, Maya and Miguel, which helps children understand the Hispanic culture in America. [More-Sun-Sentinel] (Oct. 11)

Teacher Quality
Campbell Union School District (CA) has launched the CUSD Online Education Center in response to a new state directive for districts to provide courses for teachers to complete California's new credentialing requirements. The center is open to all California teachers. [More-Campbell Union School District] (Oct. 27)

Chicago schools have been more selective about hiring new teachers this year, because the number of applicants has increased, while the number of vacancies has decreased. For the hard-to-fill positions, the system hopes to hire candidates from alternative certification programs with the help of a $1.9 million Transition to Teaching grant from OII. [More-Chicago Sun Times] (Oct. 14)


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Last Modified: 01/25/2008