The Education Innovator #17
Volume III
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The Education Innovator
 May 9, 2005 • Number 17
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What's inside...
CHIME Elementary School, Woodland Hills, California
What's New
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings kicks off National Charter Schools Week, addresses the Education Writers Association, and speaks at the Georgia Schools of Excellence in Student Achievement banquet; Presidential Scholars for 2005 are announced; the article about charter schools as role models by Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary Petrilli printed in Education Next; OII's Innovations in Education book named EDPress finalist; Knowing Poe wins Webby award; Choosing a School for Your Child is number 1 at ED Pubs; SEED School is a finalist for the Innovations in American Government Award; Charter School Leadership Council issues report on the state of the charter movement; book on magnet and specialized schools of the future released; the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence studies successful high-poverty schools; Milken Family Foundation creates Teacher Advancement Program Foundation; Heritage Foundation launches new online, school choice database; and Education Week releases its eighth report on schools' use of technology.
Innovations in the News
Families choose charter schools in Denver; plus information on choice, leadership, and teacher quality.

CHIME Rings the School Bell for Each Individual Student
Every child is different. Every child is unique. What would you do if your child did not learn in the same way as most other children? What if you could not find a school that best served your child's needs? If you are like actress Laura San Giacomo, whose son has cerebral palsy, and other concerned parents in Woodland Hills, California, you might help to build a new school—one that nurtures all children and one where every student can, and does, learn. You might create a school like CHIME Charter Elementary School, where children learn together whether they are gifted, have age-specific knowledge and skills, or have disabilities.

Since its inception, California's "Community Honoring Inclusive Model Education" (CHIME) Institute has collaborated with local families, offering infant, toddler, preschool programs, and childcare to help families meet their children's needs. For 15 years, families benefited from these services, but they wanted more. Parents requested that CHIME extend its services, and, in 2001, with support from the community and parents like San Giacomo, CHIME Charter Elementary School opened its doors.

CHIME Elementary School serves 192 children in kindergarten through fifth grade who live in communities around California's San Fernando Valley. The student population is 49 percent Caucasian, 27 percent Hispanic, 13 percent American Indian and Asian, and 11 percent African American. Nearly 20 percent of these students have disabilities that range from mild to severe. Children come to CHIME with emotional and social needs, physical needs, and academic needs. As a charter school, CHIME provides free public education to students and admits them through a lottery system. As mandated by the school's charter, slots are saved for children with special needs.

To ensure a range of abilities, Principal Julie Fabrocini, who is also a part-time education instructor at California State University, states, " We send a huge message about diversity to our community and the public at large. Having so many different students in one building enriches the learning environment for all kids."

At CHIME, special education is seen as a service. Instead of taking children out of their regular classrooms to participate in speech and language therapy or other occupational services, students receive assistance from special educators and other paraprofessionals in their classrooms. Special educators spend one to two hours in each classroom, serving not only the students with disabilities, but all students who need assistance. It is not uncommon to see speech and language pathologists working with small groups of students in a classroom, practicing phonemic and phonological awareness skills, while the regular classroom teacher leads another small group in another language arts activity.

The school adheres to a co-teaching model where special educators plan lessons with regular classroom teachers. The first hour of every school day, before the building is bustling with students, is set aside for lesson planning. CHIME faculty view co-teaching as a layering technique for instruction that meets the children where they are, supporting each child in the unique way he or she learns best. One special educator and one to two paraprofessionals work alongside each classroom teacher, continuously engaging and supporting the students.

When the last bell rings and students are dismissed, the 15 CHIME teachers, special educators, related service providers, and paraprofessionals, meet for 25 minutes to "debrief" in their respective classrooms. With multiple people working in each grade, the debriefing time is valuable to discuss individual students' successes and challenges, both academically and behaviorally, that day. The debriefing discussions are used to shape instruction for the following day and support the co-teaching partnerships and teaming at the school.

A unique aspect of CHIME's regular curriculum is the required American Sign Language (ASL) class. Seen as "the official second language" of the school, ASL is taught to all CHIME students for about one hour per week. A certified ASL teacher, who is also deaf, instructs each class. Many CHIME teachers believe that students learn the structure of language more readily by participating in the sign language courses, and that ASL provides a solid foundation for literacy.

CHIME students have shown marked improvement on standardized achievement tests. In 2004, CHIME had a target of 8 points above its 2003 Academic Performance Index (API) number, (California's student achievement measure). The school exceeded that goal, reaching an astounding 77-point improvement. The state's current goal for schools to achieve or maintain is an API of 800; CHIME earned a 715.

In January, the California Charter Schools Association named CHIME the "Charter School of the Year." Last year, the U.S. Department of Education recognized CHIME as a national model for full inclusion of students with disabilities and for providing a blueprint for local schools across the country. CHIME receives funding from the federal Charter Schools Program grant awarded to the California Department of Education by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement. The U. S. Department of Education's Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, John H. Hager, visited CHIME this year during National Charter Schools Week.

Resources: Note: The featured program is innovative, but does not yet have evidence of effectiveness from a rigorous evaluation. The program may not be replicable in different locations.


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

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings kicked off National Charter Schools Week (May 1-7) in New York, visiting the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) Academy in the Bronx, along with Mayor Michael Bloomberg (video of event available on Mayor's website The Secretary was one of many Department officials making a total of 25 visits to charter schools across the country. The Secretary stated, "We know that real reform cannot take hold without innovation and leadership, and it is in this respect that charter schools benefit the entire public education system." This year marks the 13th anniversary of the first charter school. Now, the nation's nearly 3,300 charter schools serve approximately one million students. (May 2)

Secretary Spellings addressed the Education Writers Association in St. Petersburg, Florida, stating that most national education organizations, states, and 15,000 school districts and 96,000 schools across the nation are working to continue the progress of No Child Left Behind. She said, "You've covered the stories... For too many students, a high school diploma has become little more than a 'certificate of attendance.'...We must give them all a chance. It is the moral imperative of the 21st century." (May 6)

Secretary Spellings also spoke at Georgia's Schools of Excellence in Student Achievement banquet, where she noted that excellent schools across the country share one philosophy: "student achievement comes first." The Secretary congratulated the state's 63 Title I Distinguished Schools for making progress toward the goals of No Child Left Behind. Out of more than 2,000 public and public charter schools, 20 were selected to receive the "Schools of Excellence" distinction. Both rural and urban, ten of the awarded schools are in the top 10 percent in student achievement in reading/language arts and math. (April 29)

The names of 141 Presidential Scholars for 2005 have been announced. The Presidential Scholars program was created in 1964 to honor academic achievement, and in 1979 it was expanded to include talent in visual, literary, and performing arts. Candidates qualify through outstanding performance on the College Board's SAT and ACT exams, or nominations through the annual Arts Recognition and Talent Search (ARTS) from the National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts. Scholars will be honored in recognition events from June 25 through 28 in Washington, DC. (May 3)

From the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII)

An article about accountability and charter schools, by Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement, Michael J. Petrilli, appears in the latest edition of Education Next, published by the Hoover Institution. The article considers the impact that the No Child Left Behind Act is having on the nation's charter schools. (Summer 2005).


The Association of Education Publishers recently announced the finalists for the 2005 Golden Lamp, Distinguished Achievement, and Beacon Awards. The U.S. Department of Education's book, Innovations in Education: Successful Charter Schools, published by WestEd, has been recognized as a finalist for the Distinguished Achievement Award for Interior Design for an adult book. (May 9)

Maryland Public Television's Knowing Poe collection of online field trips recently won a Webby award (the "online Oscar") in the education category. Knowing Poe is geared for students in middle and high school and for teachers who want to learn more about the life and work of Edgar Allan Poe. The site combines literature and history, and is part of Thinkport, Maryland's education website dedicated to students in kindergarten through twelfth grade and their families. Thinkport is made possible by an OII Star Schools grant. (May 9)

The SEED School, a charter school in Washington, DC, has been named as one of 18 finalists for the Innovations in American Government Award download files PDF (1KB) . The Innovations Award is a program from the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and is administered in part by the Council for Excellence in Government. The School is now eligible to win a $100,000 grand prize. SEED is the only public school in the nation to provide a boarding school environment to its underprivileged students. (May 9)

Charter Schools/Magnet Schools

The Charter School Leadership Council has issued its State of the Charter School Movement 2005: Trends, Issues, and Indicators download files PDF (1KB), report. The report offers an assessment of the status of the charter school movement as of this year, focusing on the most important topics and trends. It contains seven chapters on various topics, including charter school growth, performance, accountability, impact, politics and policies, support, and public opinion. (May 3)

A new book, Magnet and Specialized Schools of the Future: A Focus on Change, from Rowman and Littlefield Publishing Group, provides advice on constructing new school buildings and renovating or adding on to existing magnet or charter schools. The book highlights 12 exemplary projects, followed by guidance on specialized topics such as: funding, finding a school location, the best design for autistic students, technology, landscape architeture for urban schools, acoustics, and indoor air quality. A draft charter school operations plan and 36 references are included as well. (May 9)


The Heritage Foundation, a Washington DC-based think tank that promotes school choice options, recently launched "Choices in Education," a database of school choice laws and enrollment opportunities for each state. The website contains archival information concerning school choice research studies, news articles, and policy information categorized by state. Creators of the website believe it will connect people to local organizations that will assist them in choosing a school for their child that meets his or her needs. (May 9)

Closing the Achievement Gap

A new study from the Kentucky-based Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, a nonprofit citizens advocacy group, examines eight high-performing, high-poverty elementary schools in Kentucky. Inside the Black Box of High-Performing High-Poverty Schools.

Teacher Quality

The nonprofit Milken Family Foundation has created a new education foundation designed to address teacher quality requirements in the federal No Child Left Behind law. The Teacher Advancement Program Foundation will aim to improve teacher quality by revising the structure of professional development to place a highly qualified instructor in every classroom in the country. The new foundation is funded in part by the Milken Family Foundation and the Broad Foundation. (May 4)


Across the country, states are spending millions to create data systems to assist them in reporting material relevant to student achievement data and other requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law. To chronicle this use of technology, Education Week recently released its eighth annual report on school technology, Technology Counts 2005: Electronic Transfer: Moving Technology Dollars in New Directions. The report includes articles on technology and state spending, state profiles, and a first-of-its-kind ranking of leaders in technology. The table of contents and executive summary are available online. Print copies may be ordered from Education Week. (May 5)


Innovations in the News

Charter Schools
On April 28, President George W. Bush released a proclamation recognizing the importance of charter schools as part of the country's public education system. The President acknowledged the hard work of charter schoolteachers and administrators, and listed recent federal actions supporting charter schools, including the proposed $219 million for Charter School Grants and $37 million for Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities. [More-The White House] (April 28)

The U.S. Education Secretary's Regional Representative, Donna Foxley, visited King Valley Charter School (OR) as part of the National Charter Schools Week celebration. While there, she called the school a model for other charter schools by giving parents options and strengthening a community. Oregon has 5,600 students in 56 charter schools, most of which are outside major metropolitan areas. [More-Gazette-Times] (May 4)

At another National Charter Schools Week celebration, the director of the U.S. Department of Education's Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative, Carolyn Snowbarger, and U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) visited Greenville Tech Charter High School (SC). Located on Greenville Technical College's main campus, it is one of 23 charter schools in the state serving 4,074 students. [More-Greenville News] (May 4)

The Maryland Board of Education has ruled that school systems must provide as much money to charter operators for children enrolled in charter schools as they spend on regular public school students. In its rulings, the state board said systems must give operating money to charter schools in cash rather than a combination of cash and system-provided services. The first generation of charter schools under the 2003 Maryland law is to open this fall. [More-Baltimore Sun] (May 7)

The D.C. Board of Education will allow charter schools to lease space from 10 existing underused buildings. D.C. Council members have also proposed to double the school system's construction budget if it agrees to rid itself of excess space. According to a new study, D.C. Public Schools needs just 10 million of the 16 million square feet it has at its 145 schools. [More-Washington Post] (April 27)

Hundreds of parents in north Huntsville (AL) are transferring their children to attend better performing schools in south Huntsville. Many children must ride a bus for up to two hours to reach their destination. In south Huntsville the elementary schools are experiencing an influx of students as a result of No Child Left Behind and race-based transfers in the last two years. Huntsville approved over 1,000 transfers this academic year between elementary and middle schools. [More-Huntsville Times] (May 1) [free registration]

An appreciation and knowledge of technology are becoming important factors for many school boards in search of a new superintendent. In Wauwatosa (WI), for example, Phillip J. Ertl was recently hired as the superintendent, bringing with him impressive technology credentials. Recognized with the American Association of School Administrators' (AASA) 2005 President's Technology Award, Ertl has given talks on "paperless" board meetings, and his former Kiel Area School District was showcased by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) as the fourth best school district in the country for its school board's implementation of technology. [More-eSchool News] (April 29) [free registration]

Teacher Quality
The North Carolina Teaching Fellows (NCTF) program may go national if a federal bill modeled after the initiative is approved. The bill would offer $26,000 college scholarships to high school seniors who agree to commit to teach in the state's public schools for four years. The 19-year-old NCTF program has provided the state with more than 4,700 teachers, according to Jo Ann Norris, NCTF administrator. Nearly 82 percent of teachers in the NCTF program stay in the classroom after their four-year commitment has been fulfilled. Many states have existing teaching fellows programs. U.S. Representative David Price (D), who introduced the national bill, believes the plan would allow established programs to grow and new programs to develop. [More-Herald Sun] (May 1)


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Last Modified: 08/13/2009