The Education Innovator #47
Volume II
Archived Information

The Education Innovator
 December 13, 2004 • Number 47
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What's inside...
Edison Schools Educational Management Organization
What's New
Deputy Secretary Hickok sends letter to the Illinois State Board of Education concerning the implementation of supplemental educational services; USA Freedom Corps launches website on volunteering; New Bedford ECHO sponsors lessons aboard the Ernestina; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awards $29.6 million to expand the early college high school network; KIPP opens academy in Lynn (MA); Colorado State Board of Education selects KIPP to run Cole Middle School; KSA-Plus develops Parent Leadership Starter Kit; and Fordham Foundation announces Fordham Prizes for Excellence in Education.
Innovations in the News
Students are encouraged to take challenging Advanced Placement courses or the International Baccalaureate program, plus information on charter schools, educational management organizations, parental involvement, and supplemental educational services.

Edison Schools: The Transformers
If our country has learned one thing from the countless number of reality-TV makeover shows, it is that sometimes an expert has to be brought in to help. In the education community, help from an outside "educational management organization" can be a way to solve problems that are deeper than the superficial "hair, clothes, and make-up" triad shown in reality television programs.

Edison Schools is one of the country's largest private-sector educational management companies, and it has been helping to transform traditional public and charter schools around the country since its founding in 1992. Across all of its divisions, Edison now serves more than 250,000 students (approximately 26,000 of whom attend charter schools) in over 20 states and in the United Kingdom. Over 70,000 of these students are in schools that have a history of underperformance or inability to make steady progress. The company has been asked to partner with a number of schools that have been designated by their states as "in need of improvement"—the types of schools that No Child Left Behind targets. In addition to its "whole school management" partnerships, Edison offers summer, after-school, and supplemental educational services programs through its Newton Learning division, in addition to devising achievement management solutions for school systems through its Tungsten Learning division.

How does Edison transform its charter and district partnership schools? Edison begins by working closely with its partners to implement a comprehensive, research-based school design that has an unrelenting focus on achievement. The design features a reading and math skill-building curriculum developed to help all students meet or exceed levels of proficiency; a "house" system that divides schools into smaller groups or "academies" to provide students with guidance; interactive and sustained professional development for teachers and principals; and the integrated use of technology to support the program.

Additionally, Edison implements its online benchmarking system, one of the hallmarks of the program. With the Edison Benchmarks, students are assessed monthly to provide an objective, standards-based measure of student improvement. Edison embraces accountability, not only for students, but also for its own performance. This organization allows a client to cancel a contract if student test scores do not improve.

Nationally, Edison students are achieving annual academic gains above national and local norms. This is particularly true at schools challenged to make progress under No Child Left Behind.

In Philadelphia, Edison came into the school system in 2002, along with other educational management organizations, when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania took over the school district and appointed the School Reform Commission to oversee improvement efforts. Edison was asked to manage 20 of the 64 lowest performing schools in the city making it Philadelphia's largest partner, operating schools with a total of more than 12,000 students. Two years later, according to a report issued by the Pennsylvania State Department of Education, Edison's schools had an average annual gain of about 10.2 percentage points for fifth- and eighth-grade students who scored proficient or above on the 2004 Pennsylvania System of Schools Assessment in Reading. On the 2004 math test, these students gained about 9.6 percentage points. Before Edison came to the schools, they had averaged annual gains of less than one-half of 1 percentage point.

Edison also accelerated the rate of improved test scores. The Edison schools in Philadelphia reduced the percentage of students at the below-basic level at four and a half times the state rate. In Math, Edison schools reduced the percentage of students at the below-basic level at four and a half times the state rate.

According to the Pennsylvania State Department of Education, Edison, not only improved test scores, but also helped schools to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under No Child Left Behind. Of the 64 schools targeted by the Philadelphia School District for extensive reforms, 21 made AYP for the first time in 2004. Edison produced about half of those 21 schools (11 of 21), even though it operates fewer than a third of the targeted reform schools (20 of 64).

Baltimore is another urban area where Edison has enhanced student achievement. Three schools in Baltimore partnered with Edison Schools in 2000—Furman L. Templeton, Gilmor, and Montebello. On the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) in 2004, 66.1 percent of the Baltimore Edison schools' third graders scored at the proficient or better levels in reading and 63.2 percent in math, while Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS) third graders scored 54.6 percent proficient or better in reading and 54.2 percent in math. Fifth-grade scores showed similar results. The Edison schools' fifth graders scored 52.3 percent proficient or better in reading and 63.1 percent in math. In comparison, approximately 51 percent of BCPSS' fifth graders scored at the proficient or better levels in reading, while 43.8 percent scored at this level in math.

In 2004, both Montebello and Furman L. Templeton made AYP for the first time, and Gilmor missed the mark by just one subgroup.

Edison and other educational management organizations (EMOs) offer no quick fix; improvement in EMO-run schools is not uniformly strong, nor is achievement necessarily at the high end of the scale. Yet, Edison's efforts, on the whole, show promise. The RAND Corporation is currently conducting an independent evaluation of Edison Schools to examine student achievement outcomes, as well as the implementation of Edison's academic program in its schools around the country.

OII co-hosted a conference entitled, "Innovations in Education: Building a Public-Private Partnership Model for K-12 Reform," with the Philadelphia School District and Drexel University, in October, to highlight the work of Edison and other educational management organizations in partnership with Philadelphia Public Schools.

The Office of Innovation and Improvement will sponsor an Innovations in Education Exchange on education management organizations on January 28, 2005. Watch the Innovator for more information.

Resources: Note: The featured program is an example of one approach to education management. The success of the program may not be replicable, depending on unique conditions in differing locations.


What's New
From the U.S. Department of Education

Deputy Secretary Eugene Hickok sent a letter to the Illinois State Board of Education concerning the implementation of the supplemental educational services provisions of No Child Left Behind in Chicago. (Dec. 2)

USA Freedom Corps has launched a new website to help show America's youth how to make a difference by volunteering. (Dec. 8)

From OII

For the past few months, thousands of students, including those from the Global Learning Charter School and Friends Academy, have set sail from their home port, New Bedford (MA), aboard the Ernestina to learn lessons about sea life, science, and maritime history as a result of an OII grant to fund the New Bedford ECHO Project (Fall 2004)

Educational Management Organizations

The Bill " Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $29.6 million to eight organizations to expand the early college high school network to more than 25 states. Early college high schools serve as a bridge between high school and college to increase high school graduation rates, as well as the number of underserved youth who achieve a postsecondary education. (Dec. 7)

The Knowledge Is Power Program has opened a new KIPP academy in Lynn (MA) in a small, six-room annex at the rear of a church, providing 77 families an educational option with a longer school day, Saturday classes, and two hours of homework every night. (Fall 2004)

The Colorado State Board of Education selected the KIPP Foundation to take over Cole Middle School next year. This is the state's first mandatory conversion of a low-performing public school to charter status. (Nov. 24)

Parental Involvement

KSA-Plus has developed a 39-page Parent Leadership Starter Kit, which includes information on what a parent needs to know to become a more effective advocate and decision maker about benefits to students under No Child Left Behind. (Dec. 10)

School Leadership

The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation has announced the third annual Fordham Prizes for Excellence in Education. John E. Brandl was honored for helping to institute education choice in Minnesota; Marion Joseph was lauded for transforming reading instruction in California; and Terry M. Moe was recognized for groundbreaking research on the interactions of politics and education, particularly as they relate to school choice. (Dec. 1)


Technology & Learning magazine has selected 43 curriculum products as its Awards of Excellence winners, which represent "Innovative applications" and "best-of-breed examples." Winners include OII grantees WGBH, Scholastic, Inc., and JASON Foundation for Education. (Fall 2004)


Innovations in the News

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate
Education writer Jay Mathews suggests that more students should be encouraged to take challenging Advanced Placement courses or the International Baccalaureate program. A recent study shows that taking these challenging classes increases students' chances of college success. [More-Washington Post] (Dec. 5)

Charter Schools
Applications are due by the end of December for the biotechnology program at Palm Beach County's (FL) new Seminole Ridge High School. The school will also have a construction academy and technology and automotive programs. [More-Palm Beach Post] (Dec. 8)

The W.E.B. Dubois Academy, a Cincinnati-based charter school, has been awarded a $105,000 grant from a philanthropic group of area women to expand its science classes beyond its 293 students to any child who lives in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. The academy has also been recognized by the American Academy for Liberal Education (see Innovator 45). [More-Cincinnati Enquirer] (Dec.3)

Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri used a celebration for the newly opened Learning Community Charter School to promote changes he said are needed to allow more such schools in the state. [More-Journal Register] (Dec. 8)

Michael Karp, business man and founder of two charter schools in Philadelphia, told a Connecticut College audience that educators can "break the poverty cycle" by better combining social services and education. He believes the money invested in education and social services will save the later cost of remedial services and incarceration. [More-The Day] (Dec. 9) [free registration]

Educational Management Organizations
The Urban Fiscal Policy course at the University of Pennsylvania explores the question, "Can cities be run like businesses?" The course looks at urban decision-making based on economics over ideology, including "competing to manage public schools for a profit." Victory Schools' management of some Philadelphia schools is an example (see Innovator 14). [More-Wharton Journal] (Dec. 6)

A former all-boys Catholic school operator and some for-profit education companies are among 52 applicants to open new public schools in Chicago under Mayor Daley's Renaissance 2010 initiative. [More-Chicago Sun Times] (Nov. 23)

Parental Involvement
"Becoming a Community School," from the Project for School Innovation in Boston, highlights the Robert L. Ford School in Lynn (MA) as a model for how to build a school that relies on strong family ties and community partners. The public school has night school for parents, after-school programs at Salem State College, and outreach with Lynn police and neighboring private schools. The school is considering a year-round schedule, like KIPP Academy Lynn Charter School (see What's New). [More-Boston Globe] (Dec. 9)

Supplemental Educational Services
No Child Left Behind's supplemental educational services provision could double the private tutoring market in the United States, according to Eduventures Inc., a research firm that tracks education businesses. More than 1,500 companies and nonprofit organizations are state-approved supplemental services providers. [More-Education Week] (Dec. 8) [free registration]


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Last Modified: 08/21/2008