Voluntary Public School Choice

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2007 Grant Abstracts


Grantee Name:Yukon-Koyukuk School District Voluntary Public School Choice
Project Contacts: Kerry Boyd, (907)374-9435
Carl Knudsen, (907)345-4332
FY 2007-2008 Funding:$1,747,346

Goals: The goals of Yukon-Koyukuk School District's (YKSD) Voluntary Public School Choice Program are to: (1) Implement inter-district and intra-district agreements to support and encourage students exercising school choice options; (2) Increase the number of in-district schools of choice by restructuring and improving schools; (3) Raise student achievement scores; and (4) Build and sustain students' resiliency assets and skills to promote life-long learning and success.

Objectives: The YKSD VPSC project targets the following villages: Allakaket, Hughes, Huslia, Kaltag, Koyukuk, Manley, Minto, Nulato, and Ruby. These nine village schools within the YKSD have ever widening achievement gaps. The project will enhance educational options by teaming with entities that have extensive expertise to develop, document, evaluate, and disseminate innovative, cohesive models of public school choice. Strategies aim to improve instruction and raise student achievement. Year 1 of the project will be used to implement strategies to strengthen local schools of choice, while solidifying intra-district and establishing interdistrict agreements, support, and transportation for families to exercise interdistrict choice in educating their children. Intra- and inter-district agreements include: (1) Distance Learning-Credits and classes delivered via internet; (2) Boarding schools-Schools which house students throughout the term; and (3) Traditional schools-Schools which operate during the day and provide traditional curricular offerings. The project will provide certified staffing, training, and an electronic tracking system for the YSKSD villages, while implementing the Alyeska School Improvement Cycle and Resiliency Program. This program is aligned with the Alaska State-Mandated School Improvement planning process and provides four tenants of school improvement: (1) Focus on Data; (2) Focus on Change; (3) Focus on Measuring Change; and (4) Focus on Evaluation. Another project component is implementation of the School Success Cycle and Resiliency Program. This program addresses the following domains related to instruction and learning as identified by the National Staff Development Council: Context, Content, and Process. Context refers to the physical and emotional environment for learning. Content means specific knowledge, skills and understanding that students aim to acquire. Process includes the style, strategies, and techniques that are drawn upon to ensure learning objectives are met by students.

Outcomes: YKSD VPSC aims to produce: (1) An increase in students exercising choice option; (2) An increase in the total choice options available to YKSD students; (3) An increase in educational attainment of students in all nine village sites; (4) A decrease in the learning gaps for students based on achievement data; (5) An increase in students' language arts proficiency; (6) A decrease in student dropouts; (6) An increase in students' math proficiency; and (7) An increase in protective factors and assets for all students.

Number of K-12 Students and Teachers/Administrators Served: Approximately 1,907 students will be served annually, with about 64 full-time teachers benefiting from professional development and school restructuring activities.

Name of Applicant: The applicant is Yukon Koyukuk School District (YKSD)

Contributions for research policy and practice: The project design can provide pertinent information related to implementing public school choice programs that promote intra- and inter-district programs in this geographic region and areas with similar dynamics. The project has identified an adjacent school district that can be used as a comparison control group to measure the project's impact on student achievement and its overall success. Data used to compare the success of the YKSD program includes Alaska Benchmark Exam results, the annual Report Card to the public, the Alaska high school exit exam results and drop out rates.

Replication of promising practices and school choice strategies: Based on the YKSD VPSC project design the following components could be replicated: (1) Developing and implementing interdistrict agreements with neighboring districts and intradistrict agreements among schools within this geographic region; (2) Providing transportation to schools of choice and promoting active outreach to out-of-district schools; and, (3) Building foster-communities, communication trees, and other support systems for students.

Interdistrict Approach: Alaska is a vast geographic region with ancient tribal boundaries. In considering the geographical and transportation constraints, to offer better schooling choices in the isolated YKSD area, the project begins by restructuring existing schools. Next, YKSD's interdistrict agreements with districts outside the geographic region and intra-district agreements among schools within the geographic region will be adopted, presented, supported and supplied prior to the beginning of the school year. Any YKSD student who attends an out-of-district school will be provided transportation to schools of choice. YKSD will also promote active outreach to each out-of-district school's local community.


Grantee Name:New Haven Voluntary Public School Choice Program
Project Contact: Robert Canelli, (203)946-5696
FY 2007-2008 Funding:$2,022,655

Goal: The goal of New Haven Public School's Voluntary Public School Choice (NHPS VPSC) Program is to expand its current public school choice program to provide students attending Title I schools in need of improvement (low performing schools) with high quality, school choice alternatives. The project addresses the unique educational needs of students served in participating schools and will strengthen these schools' ability to address the unique needs of students from low performing schools through staff training, curriculum development, and implementation of supplemental services for students.

Objectives: To address the need of creating more high quality choices in New Haven and its surrounding suburbs, while giving all students' equal opportunity to attend the highest quality alternatives to their neighborhood schools, New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) project objectives are to: (1) Give priority to students from low performing schools in the lotteries for currently available choices; (2) Create more high quality choices in New Haven by creating new inter-district magnet schools with more racially and socio-economically diverse populations (rather than maintaining less diverse neighborhood schools); (3) Create more high quality schools of choice (Lighthouse Schools) in New Haven and increase their capacity to better meet the needs of students who choose them; (4) Increase Project Choice, Suburban Inter-district Magnet, and Charter School seats; and, (5) Encourage all students and their families to consider alternatives to neighborhood schools by increasing recruitment and information dissemination.

Outcomes: The NHPS VPSC program will: (1) Expand high quality public school choice available to high school students; (2) Expand Project Choice by allowing more New Haven Title I students to transfer to higher performing suburban schools; and (3) Expand pre-high school capacity by developing four magnet schools for grades pre-kindergarten through 8. Plus, a NHPS charter school is expanding its grade levels, resulting in more available seats for NHPS students. Priority will be given to NHPS students from Title I schools in need of improvement for the additional seats.

Number of Students (Grades K-12) and Teachers/Administrators Served: By the end of the 5-year project, 3,563 (43%) of 8,380 students attending low performing schools will attend higher performing schools of choice.

Name of Applicant: New Haven Public Schools is the applicant.

Contributions for research policy and practice: An extensive evaluation component will help determine project effectiveness by identifying whether the achievement of transfer students increases significantly after they transfer to higher performing schools. Data will be used in a rigorous three-step quasi-experimental, non-equivalent groups evaluation methodology, measuring program participants' achievement growth over time.

Replication of promising practices and school choice strategies: This project includes a wide variety of choices including inter-district magnet schools, intra-district magnet schools, Project Choice schools, (an urban-suburban transfer program involving 13 school districts), charter schools and Lighthouse schools (non-magnet, higher performing schools located near Title I schools in need of improvement). The aim is to create more seats in higher performing schools for New Haven students who are currently attending Title I schools in need of improvement. This is a promising and replicable school choice strategy.

Inter-district Approach: Inter-district magnet schools attract students from different schools districts by offering a special, high-quality curriculum that provide educational opportunities for students who benefit from a range of themes or teaching philosophies. Project Choice provides interdistrict enrollment options for parents and students from large urban school systems and their surrounding suburban districts on a space available basis, as districts declare a certain number of available seats open for interdistrict transfers. New Haven has developed partnerships with 16 suburban school districts that send students to NHPS schools. New Haven's strategy is to create many alternatives to neighborhood schools, so parents are more interested in a school's program than in the school's geographic location. Another strategy is to create racially, ethnically and socio-economically diverse higher achieving schools. New Haven's interdistrict approach is two-fold-allowing New Haven students to choose schools in other districts and attracting students from other districts to New Haven's schools.


Grantee Name:FL-DOE's Voluntary Public School Choice Project
Project Contact: Jean Miller, (850)245-0502
FY 2007-2008 Funding:$2,034,543

Goal: The goal of the Florida Department of Education's (FLDOE) VPSC Project is to increase opportunities by expanding public school options for students to enter high quality public school choice programs, particularly those students attending schools in need of improvement (SINI). To accomplish this, FLDOE VPSC emphasizes two approaches: (1) the implementation of School Choice Parent Resource Centers, throughout target areas in Florida; and, (2) the implementation of three inter-district transfer models to enhance existing transfer agreements and increase public school choice options.

Objectives: The objectives are to: (1) Reach families in low-income neighborhoods with community support to educate families about public school choice options; (2) Open additional School Choice Parent Resource Centers, and assist families with the paperwork required to transfer their children to higher quality schools; (3) Replicate public school choice programs in secondary schools; (4) Improve transportation services; and (5) Provide inter-district tuition transfers.

Outcomes: In targeted communities, there will be an increase in the number of student transfers from SINI to higher performing schools. The methods for adding capacity to Florida's public school choice initiatives will increase, specifically by expanding existing interdistrict transfer agreements. An emphasis will be placed on secondary school options (middle and high schools). Expansion methods will include: (1) Replication of programs; (2) Implementation of feeder patterns; (3) Improvement of transportation services; (4) Provisions for interdistrict tuition transfers; and (5) Combinations of the preceding methods to successfully implement school choice initiatives in Florida school districts. By project end, three inter-district or multi-district public school choice models will be in place and there will be an increase in the number of student transfers from district SINI to higher performing districts.

Number of Students (Grades K-12) and Teachers/Administrators Served: Statewide data indicates that in 2006 only 10,167 of 364, 684 students eligible to transfer under NCLB actually transferred to higher performing schools. This project focuses on serving these students, their teachers and administrators.

Name of Applicant and Partners: The Florida Department of Education is the applicant. The project includes collaboration with NOVA Southeastern University.

Contributions for research policy and practice and Replication of promising practices and school choice strategies: This project may result in contributions to research and practice related to the effectiveness of School Choice Parent Resource Centers directing services to support families by targeting low-income areas and educating parents to ensure these parents make informed decisions about educational options. This could provide a model that focuses on assisting parents whose children will be transferring from SINI to higher performing schools.

Inter-district Approach: FLDOE will be using the first project year to plan and create three new inter-district public school choice models, specifically to address the unique needs of the State. At least one of the three models will focus on secondary school programs, such as career academies. Districts will be required to determine the number of families eligible to exercise the right to choose a school in another school district. These three new inter-district transfer models will focus on expanding access to K-12 programs, including secondary smaller learning communities.

Grantee Name:Hillsborough Choice
Project Contact: Pansy Houghton, Ph.D., (813)272-4880
FY 2007-2008 Funding:$2,322,512

Goal: The goal of Hillsborough County Public Schools' (HCPS) Hillsborough Choice is to expand the district's public school choice program by restructuring low performing schools and transforming them into high performing schools.

Objectives: Hillsborough Choice (HC) will address two major factors that have been identified: (1) The effectiveness of attractor programs in meeting the needs of students currently attending low performing schools; and, (2) The integration of initiatives to maximize choice opportunities that enable students to move from low performing to high performing schools. First, HC plans to reconfigure and expand the attractor model it uses to offer viable choices for students currently attending elementary schools in need of improvement. In addition, middle schools will be added to the model. To enhance the on-going effectiveness of the program HC will focus on the following components: (1) Simplifying and streamlining the application process; (2) Enhancing parental access to information concerning HC transportation services offered for students to attend schools of choice; and, (3) Ensuring professional development activities for teachers are integrated with specific needs of choice students.

Outcomes: The reform required for HC will involve changing technology systems, attractor models, professional development models, marketing approaches, and pioneering new concepts in partnerships. Key changes will occur within and throughout HCPS to improve the current system: The attractor school model will be reconfigured by restructuring low performing schools, based on scientifically-based research models, and transforming these schools into high performing schools of choice. School sites will be chosen based on factors such as school capacity, location, and academic performance, as measured by NCLB adequate yearly progress (AYP) status. HC will partner with a local charter school and a local private school to replicate successful instructional models. Elementary attractors will provide a choice of two different models: (1) Bank Street Model (in partnership with Trinity Charter School, and (2) Single Gender Class Model (in partnership with Academy Prep). Middle/High (secondary) school attractors will include: (1) Rigorous Academic Program/College Prep (RAP) and Advanced Placement Program/College Prep (APP). HC will establish a centrally located, fully staffed Parent Resource Center to serve parents, communities, and district staff. HC will also have a trained cadre of Parent Liaisons.

Number of Students (Grades K-12) and Teachers/Administrators Served: Over 30,500 students at 26 schools, along with their teachers/administrators will participate in Hillsborough Choice.

Name of Applicant and Partners: The lead applicant is Hillsborough County Public Schools, in partnership with the University of South Florida's David Anchin Center, College of Education; Trinity Charter School; and, the Academy Prep Center of Tampa.

Contributions for research policy and practice: The HCPS's project design of the HC model includes a partnership between district schools, a charter and a private school. This could provide information related to policy and practice in sharing successful instructional strategies and impacting systemic change for school districts. The intent is to produce student academic achievement gains. In addition, the academic components of the attractor schools are research-based. This can provide important documentation in support of successful educational practices.

Replication of promising practices and school choice strategies: HC's potentially promising practices and replicable strategies include: (1) the innovative partnership between HCPS, Academy Prep of Tampa Bay (a local private school), and Trinity Charter School; (2) the two-dimensional strand coursework series developed in partnership with the University of South Florida's Anchin Center to produce effective and culturally competent teachers and administrators; (3) the effective use of interactive technologies to provide user-friendly parent and staff data collection and dissemination; and, 4) the rigorous project evaluation, enhanced by the use of technology based data collection systems. Also, the expansion of HC's inter-district approach provides the framework for two models that can be replicated in other districts: (1) satellite campuses of the Florida Autism Center for Excellence; and (2) the technology-based Teen Parent Program.

Inter-district Approach: HCPS engages in the reciprocal exchange of students among surrounding counties. Letters of exchange exist among Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Hernando, Sarasota and Polk Counties. Pasco, Pinellas, and Polk counties are the closest neighboring counties. Reciprocal agreements are in place to both send and accept students from these districts. Additionally, HCPS has agreed to accept students from Hernando, Manatee, and Sarasota counties, which are further geographically. Currently, 681 students from other counties attend schools in HCPS. New to HC, extra points will be added to the applications of students from low-performing schools with whom HCPS has interdistrict agreements, increasing their chances of being selected for the choice program. HCPS collaborates with a private agency to operate the charter school for autistic students, the Florida Autism Center for Excellence. As a part of the interdistrict program expansion, satellite campuses will be opened in four surrounding counties, but managed by the charter school. Parents of autistic students in these counties may choose the Center for educating their child. Additionally, HC will expand the district's technology-based Teen Parent program to interdistrict partners. Pregnant teens must successfully complete the two required courses in Teen Parent Centers. In response to the needs of pregnant teens who are on an academic pre-college track and do not want to leave their home high schools and rigorous courses for Teen Parent Centers, HCPS, in partnership with the University of South Florida, has developed a computer-delivered version of Parenting I and II. The State of Florida provides free childcare to teen mothers while they are in school. HCPS marketing efforts will also target families of inter-district partners. The Parent Resource Center will assist parents from other districts in making the best choice possible for their child.

Grantee Name:I Choose! Program
Project Contact:Sherri Futch-James, Ed.D., (305)995-7561
FY 2007-2008 Funding:$2,097,901

Goal: The goal of Miami-Dade Public Schools' I Choose! is to significantly expand the availability of high quality school options for parents/guardians in Miami-Dade County. I Choose! will divide the vast district (the fourth largest in the nation serving more than 361,000 students) into small geographic areas, known as Choice Zones, and populate each with varied, high quality programs. This project focuses on developing two additional Choice Zones in the southern-most and western regions of the county.

Objectives: The project objectives are to: 1) Establish Choice Zones; 2) Identify, evaluate, and replicate successful programs, methods, and practices that meet students' needs and interests and promote high student achievement; 3) Increase the capacity of successful programs; 4) Redesign the district's transportation service plan to include the expanded Choice Zones and ensure all students have equitable opportunities to access public school choice programs; 4) Provide support through a Choice Academic Support Team (CAST) to target assistance for participating schools by implementing new choice programs, marketing programs to the community, recruiting students, and implementing strategies to improve student achievement; and 6) Provide the I Choose! Summer Institute and demonstration school project to serve as a laboratory for best practices in teaching and learning for teachers.

Outcomes: I Choose! will: 1) Establish a minimum of two additional Choice Zones, phasing schools in annually, by feeder patterns; 2) Replicate successful choice models, and 20 school theme enhancements in each Choice Zone; 3) Increase parental awareness and participation through an aggressive, district wide marketing campaign; 4) Increase access to choice programs through the utilization of a computerized transportation routing system to maximize rider ship opportunities for students; 5) Implement six summer demonstration schools; and 6) Conduct annual workshops, including two Choice symposiums and a Summer Institute, to provide intensive professional development of best practices in leadership teaching, utilization of data, and strategies to improve student achievement.

Number of Students (Grades K-12) and Teachers/Administrators Served: By project end, 90,000 students will be served. Annually, a minimum of 150 teacher/administrators will participate in professional development activities (with an estimated total of 750 served by project end).

Name of Applicant: The lead applicant is Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS).

Contributions for research policy and practice: A considerable number of M-DCPS's effective schools have exceeded the State's standards and earned top marks. Successful schools such as these will be evaluated in Year 1 to identify themes to be replicated. This will enable the district to offer an attractive variety of choices to all students from low performing schools. Accompanied by a comprehensive evaluation component of the program, M-DCPS is poised to add considerable and valuable data in a field desperate for quantifiable verification of the successful choice programs. In essence, I Choose! can become a model for other large school districts facing similar challenges.

Replication of promising practices and school choice strategies: I Choose! will provide a network of traditional and non-traditional public schools, including charter schools within Choice Zones that will greatly enhance the delivery of quality services to all district stakeholders. The project will implement the Parents/guardians Assuring Student Success: Achievement Made Easy by Learning Together Program (PASS) that teaches parents to become learning facilitators, thereby helping teachers to raise student achievement. High priority will be given to sharing successful approaches with schools that have been designated as low performing. The I Choose! Schools will then serve as demonstration venues for replication of best practices at the district, state, and national level.

Inter-district Approach: M-DCPS has a long-standing district policy regarding interdistrict student transfers with Broward County and Monroe County. This includes a formal application process. Annually, several hundred students are enrolled in M-DCPS from the two school districts with the majority being Broward County students. To expand the interdistrict approach, M-DCPS will establish an inter-district agreement to broaden access to the Florida Virtual School (FVS), create a regional border agreement with Monroe's Key Largo Schools with selected transportation assistance, and expand the commuter school concept within the targeted Choice Zones. Commuter Schools accept out-of-district student transfers. The K-12 Commuter/Special Interest Schools within the two zones include: (1) Math/Science Research Academy, in collaboration with the University of Miami; (2) Pre-Veterinary School, in collaboration with Miami Metro Zoo; 3) Medical Research and Technologies School, in collaboration with Baptist Hospital; 4) Musical Arts Academy; 5) Firefighters Academy, in collaboration with Miami-Dade County Fire Department; and 6) Law, Homeland Security, and Forensics Academy, in collaboration with the City of Miami Police Department. Students from both M-DCPS and Monroe school districts will have access to these schools.


Grantee Name:
Project Contact: Youlanda Royster, (773)553-5497
FY 2007-2008 Funding:$2,700,364

Goal: The goal of Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) is to reduce the achievement gap in Chicago and across the nation through the Chicago Comprehensive Choice Initiative (CCCI). CCCI will create more high quality seats for students currently attending schools in need of improvement by transforming low performing schools into high performing ones, identifying more quality seats in existing schools, and improving communication to and the involvement of families.

Objectives: To further expand choice within the context of successful Neighborhood Learning Clusters, CPS will add a new type of option-a Turnaround School with a technology magnet focus. The Turnaround School model that CPS is adapting as part of CCCI builds on the success of two initiatives: The Miami-Dade School Improvement Zone and the Harlem Children's Zone. The new model will be targeted to under-enrolled schools that have been identified for restructuring, having not made adequate yearly progress for five or more consecutive years with the objective/expectation of transforming them, through a combination of VPSC funding and in-kind support from the district, into high performing schools. CCCI objectives are to: 1) Increase the number of students transferring from low performing to identified higher performing schools; 2) Create new high quality school options; 3) Improve methods for informing and involving parents and community stakeholders; and, 4) Provide interventions to improve the academic achievement of secondary school students at greatest risk of not meeting challenging State academic standards and not completing high school.

Outcomes: The math and reading achievement of participating students will increase from pre-test to post-test each year. CCI will implement A Turnaround School model to restructure low performing schools. Large numbers of students and families will also be impacted through fairs, publications, and other forms of information dissemination.

Number of Students (Grades K-12) and Teachers/Administrators Served: CCCI will impact both total and annually: 10 administrators and 1,100 teachers. CCCI will directly impact 5,625 students total: Year 1: 125, Year 2: 3,750, Year 3: 4,375, Year 4, 5,000, Year 5: 5,625.

Name of Applicant and Partners: The lead applicant is Chicago Public Schools including various departments, in partnership with the DePaul University Egan Urban Center, and--of critical importance-the community and parents.

Contributions for research policy and practice: CPS district leaders designed the model to be comprehensive, seeking to restructure key factors, such as instructional time, curriculum, community relationships, and teacher support and collaboration. Features of the Turnaround model include full-day pre-school and kindergarten with intentional early literacy instruction, aligned Pre-K through grade 8 curricula that schools select from a list of options prescribed by the CPS reading and mathematics initiatives; ongoing professional development for teachers and principals; frequent, formalized student assessments; targeted tutoring; and technology-based intervention programs. Turnaround schools will serve as leaders in the integration of technology into core academic areas. The goals of the technology magnet program are to increase student achievement in core subject areas and develop students' 21st century skills.

Replication of promising practices and school choice strategies: One of the challenges of CPS is how to advance academic achievement for secondary students to ensure they will graduate from high school, while increasing academic rigor to maximize postsecondary options. CCCI is poised to assist CPS in surmounting those challenges through the Peer-to-Peer Tutoring Program or P² and the Bridge to Algebra Program. P² will recruit high-performing students to serve as tutors to low-performing students. Peer Tutor Coordinators from each cluster and P² tutors will work collaboratively with the middle grade teachers and students in the Turnaround Schools to support Carnegie Learning's Bridge to Algebra program.

Inter-district Approach: A small pilot program of inter-district transfers will give educators across the Chicago metropolitan area a real "here and now" example of what can be accomplished educationally when choice is expanded to include inter-district transfers. One hundred students will be selected by a random lottery from a pool of students who want to transfer and whose parents have made the choice. Students from five "Turnaround Schools" that are in geographic proximity to: (1) each other, and to (2) the western or northern boundary of Chicago will be offered an opportunity to transfer to five host schools in other school districts. Five host schools will accept 20 students each. These students will not be selected from a pool of the lowest performing students; all students at the Turnaround Schools will be eligible to apply. CPS will provide tuition reimbursement based on the receiving district's per capita pupil cost and provide transportation to and from host schools. CPS in collaboration with host schools will conduct orientation sessions for transferring students, pay for academic supplemental activities, and track student achievement. Students will remain at their new host school until they graduate. For this pilot, CPS will continue to pursue public school districts whose schools are making AYP. CPS includes 420,982 students with unique needs and interests. Students from CPS and the host school will benefit from maximizing choice options in metropolitan Chicago.


Grantee Name:FRCS's Voluntary Public School Choice Program
Project Contact: Heidi Berkowitz, (508)543-2508, extension 390
FY 2007-2008 Funding:$126,174

Goals: Foxborough Regional Charter School (FRCS) seeks to expand an inter-district approach to offering parents greater options in acquiring a high quality public education, with an emphasis on informing parents whose children are currently attending identified schools in need of improvement (SINI). This program seeks to increase academic equity and excellence. The goals of the project are: (1) To create a comprehensive outreach plan; (2) To increase program accessibility by providing transportation assistance; and (3) To expand current educational programming to support additional student enrollment.

Objectives: To reach the preceding goals, the FRCS VPSC Program objectives are: (1) Creating an external communication plan to reach new parents; (2) Developing an internal communication plan to create confidence in the public school choice decision; (3) To minimize attrition by building a sense of community to keep families engaged and connected to their new school; (4) Reducing the transportation barrier to school choice; (5) Reducing the transportation barrier to after school academic support; (6) Evaluating the transportation plan; (7) Ensuring a smooth transition for transfer students that will position them for academic success; (8) Developing a summer program for incoming transfer students; (9) Creating Individual Student Success Plans for each student in need of academic support services; (10) Enhancing the annual Professional Development Plan; (11) Evaluating parent satisfaction and student success rates; (12) Implementing before and after school programs; (13) Purchasing diagnostic software to expand integrated technology for academic support; (14) Supplementing staffing to meet the academic, social, and emotional adjustment needs of incoming transfer students; and, (15) Enhancing graduation competency through school learning labs, junior and senior advising classes, and an Achievement Team Group.

Outcomes: After two years with this intervention, there will be a statistically significant difference on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment system (MCAS) scores, between students enrolled in the program, and students who remain in their sending districts. Results will indicate that cohorts of students, who have enrolled in the program for two or more years, score higher on language arts and math sections of the MCAS exam, in comparison to the composite average of students in their sending districts. The FRCS's program is a viable option for students who are currently attending area schools in need of improvement. FRCS provides students in grades K-12 with a challenging academic program that has a rigorous curriculum, supported by a wide variety of intense systematic support programs. The program stresses achievement, discipline, hard work, and accountability. Students are continually challenged, regardless of ability. FRCS balances its expectation of high academic standards with positive, ethical, moral, and civic values, and prepares students to serve in their community as leaders and good citizens. Students are presented with projects and issues requiring critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, real-life applications of their academic studies through the Student Life and Community Learning programs. These Student Life and Community Learning Programs are integral components of the overall education experience.

Number of Students (Grades K-12) and Teachers/Administrators Served: FRCS currently educates approximately 1,000 students. By project end, FRCS expects to be at capacity (1,200 seats). Overall, 140 teachers, administrators and staff will participate in on-going professional development and growth activities to be responsive to FRCS student concerns and needs.

Name of Applicant and Partners: Foxborough Regional Charter School is the lead applicant and has an established inter-district agreement with area school districts.

Contributions for research policy and practice: This project can contribute to research and policy in the areas of: (1) Offering and implementing regional public school choice options; (2) Creating educational models that serve a large number of sending districts; and (3) Providing alternatives for parents and students to acquire a high quality public education program in an academically challenging and stimulating learning environment, with the ultimate goal of preparing college-ready students to serve in their community as leaders and exemplary citizens.

Replication of promising practices and school choice strategies: Results show that students enrolled in the program have made significant progress, confirming the effectiveness of the academic support programs in increasing academic achievement. This project could serve as a model for others interested in developing strong, accelerated programs in student leadership and academic support activities, especially since it supports a rigorous academic program that helps students from all backgrounds reach success as they strive for academic excellence.

Inter-district Approach: The inter-district agreement is between FRCS and area districts including Attleboro, Avon, Brockton, Canton, Easton, Foxborough, Mansfield, Medfield, Medway, Millis, Norfolk, North Attleboro, Norton, Norwood, Plainville, Sharon, Stoughton, Walpole, West Bridgewater, and Wrentham. Enrollment is open to children of the Massachusetts Commonwealth with priority given to those who reside in twenty (20) designated cities and towns surrounding Foxborough, Massachusetts. Foxborough Regional Charter School enrolls students from these 20 sending districts. Fourteen of these districts, 67 percent, include schools identified for improvement. There are 63,071 students within these fourteen sending districts, all of whom are eligible for this voluntary public school choice program.


Grantee Name:Excellence = Macomb County Choice (Project E=MC²)
Project Contact: Robert McBroom, (586)797-6084
FY 2007-2008 Funding:$2,759,751

Goal: The goals of Project E=MC² are to: (1) Create a model inter-district choice program that can be replicated for the nation; (2) Expand the number and types of educational choice program options available within Macomb County for middle and high school students; (3) Increase the number of students and parents/caregivers who know about and take advantage of educational choice programs, particularly those from low performing schools and under-represented groups; and (4) Enhance educational outcomes among middle and high school students, particularly those who are at greatest risk of not meeting challenging State standards.

Objectives: Project E=MC² aims to: 1) Create the E=MC² Project Steering Committee, comprised of internal and external stakeholders, which will guide the design, implementation, and evaluation of this VPSC initiative; 2) Produce curriculum and professional development activities designed to create innovative, standards and research-based educational programs at the middle and secondary school levels, including the International Baccalaureate Middle Years and Diploma Programmes and specialized academies in math, science, and technology; 3) Establish intensive interventions to level the playing fields of students at risk of not meeting State standards and enabling them to suceed in rigorous educational settings; 4) Launch an aggressive, targeted, and multi-faceted marketing campaign to promote awareness of this VPSC initiative; 5) Develop a transportation plan that enables students from throughout Macomb County to access the choice programs being offered; 6) Conduct a rigorous evaluation process, including a randomized control trial (RCT) research design, to document the process and outcomes of this VPSC initiative for the purpose of contributing to the national knowledge base about best practices in choice programs; and 7) Perform dissemination activities to share project results with the larger educational community.

Outcomes: Project E=MC² will: 1) Expand capacity to offer choice at the middle and secondary school levels among participating districts; (2) Broaden the knowledge and skills of teachers and administrators to offer educational programs aligned with challenging State standards and to reflect research-based instructional practices; (3) Increase the number of students who enroll in the choice programs offered through this VPSC initiative from within and outside their home districts, particularly from the over 50 low-performing schools in Macomb County and the surrounding communities; (4) Enhance levels of parent and student satisfaction with the educational opportunities available to them; and (5) Obtain higher levels of student achievement on all standardized measures of achievement than among students who are not participating in the consortium's choice programs. By the end of the five-year project, Project E=MC² will expand one highly successful program and establish six new choice programs that will ultimately offer a total of 5, 825 seats "of choice" for students in grades 6-12. The middle school choices are: (1) International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (a new school-wide program); and (2) Academy of Arts and Sciences (new school-within-a-school). The high school choices are: International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (New school-wide program); (2) Legal Studies Academy (New school within-a-school program); (3) Medical Bioscience Academy (New school-within-a-school program); (4) Arts and Sciences Program (Expanding capacity of current program); and (5) Center for Science and Industry (New school-wide program).

Number of Students (Grades K-12) and Teachers/Administrators Served: By project end, 5,825 seats will be available and students will be served. Annually, teachers/administrators will participate in professional development activities related to instructional practices.

Name of Applicant and Partners: The lead applicant is Utica Community Schools, in partnership with Mount Clemens Community Schools and Armada Area Schools.

Contributions for research policy and practice: This project includes an innovative approach that focuses on serving middle and secondary school students across three neighboring school districts. The demographics and dynamics of each school district vary based upon student populations, graduation rates, rural/suburban areas, academic achievement, educational programming, and available school choice options. The project design could have research and policy implications for geographical areas with similar compositions across the nation.

Replication of promising practices and school choice strategies: Based on the project design, the following school choice strategies can serve as potentially promising practices worthy of replication: (1) Implementing inter-district choice by establishing partnerships and maintaining collaboration between school districts, (2) Expanding choice options for middle and high school students, (3) Educating parents about school choice options with a focus on expanding options for students currently attending low performing schools and groups that have been traditionally under-represented, and (4) Studying educational outcomes for middle and high school student participants who are at greatest risk of not meeting challenging State standards.

Inter-district Approach: Utica Community Schools (UCS), in partnership with Mount Clemens Community Schools and Armada Area Schools, is creating a model inter-district public school choice program, Project E=MC², to expand the range of innovative and rigorous educational programs available for students in grades 6-12 in Macomb County, Michigan, on the outskirts of Detroit. This tri-district consortium's inter-district choice program will be designed, implemented, and evaluated in a State that has an open and flexible school choice policy. Utica Community Schools is the largest participating district (the second largest district in the state) with almost 30,000 students. Mount Clemens Community Schools is a predominately urban district serving approximately 2,500 students with a racially and ethnically diverse population. Armada Area Schools serves about 2,200 students in a rural community. These three neighboring schools districts with very different characteristics have formed a partnership for the purpose of improving educational outcomes for students, thousands of whom are languishing in low-performing schools in a region that is under siege economically.


Grantee Name:Minnesota Voluntary Public School Choice Project
Project Contact: Bondo Nyembwe, (651)582-8520
FY 2007-2008 Funding:$1,905,602

Goals: The goals of Minnesota's Voluntary Public School Choice Project are to: (1) Maintain cohesive marketing and family outreach strategies for voluntary public school choice; (2) Continue to offer transportation services; (3) Coordinate academic tutoring with school curriculum enhancement; (4) Expand school choice options; (5) Develop a Leadership Academy for Charter School Administrators; (6) Strengthen the Post-Secondary Education Options Outreach program (PSEO); and, (7) Develop a comprehensive Orientation and Mentoring Program.

Objectives: Minnesota's VPSC Project intends to: (a) Expand efforts to market urban schools to suburban school students; (b) Create a new school choice website; (c) Enhance parental involvement; (d) Continue providing services to transport Minneapolis students to suburban schools and choice magnet schools; (e) Expand transportation services to include suburban-to-urban transportation options; (f) Increase access to and actively promote use of academic tutoring and support services; (g) Improve and expand staff training; (h) Expand existing magnet programs at Edison High School; (i) Expand arts focus and capacity at Inter District Downtown School (IDDS); (j) Expand choices to include branding two charter schools; (k) Incorporate Online Learning (OLL) as a viable choice option; (l) Create a Leadership Academy for current and prospective charter schools administrators (and other public school administrators); (m) Develop outreach and marketing strategies to increase participation in PSEO; (n) Identify and reach out to first generation college prospects in low-income families; (o) Provide proactive, ongoing support and follow-up services to participants and their families; and, (p) Increase parent/caregiver advocacy services.

Outcomes: Minnesota VPSC Project will: (1) Increase awareness of school choice options and assist families in making informed choices; (2) Increase the number of suburban students choosing to attend schools in Minneapolis; (3) Increase outreach to dropout students; (4) Increase parent/guardians' involvement in their children's education; (5) Support school choice options; (6) Improve academic performance of students; (7) Increase student retention and graduation rates; (8) Increase use of academic support services by program participants; (9) Prepare staff to teach all participating students; (10) Increase choice options available to all students; (11) Reduce dropout rates; (12) Strengthen charter school leadership to improve school quality, teacher quality, and student academic success; (13) Increase participation in PSEO; (14) Facilitate students' transition into school choice options; and (15) Improve life opportunities for students.

Number of Students (Grades K-16): School choice information will be made available to 100,000 urban and suburban students, with the project providing services to 3,000 students annually, including 2,000 Minneapolis Public School (MPS) students and 1,000 students from 10 MPS neighboring suburbs.

Number of Teachers/Administrators Served: There is no cap on the number of teachers/administrators who will be served by the project. Services provided include staff development training provided by WMEP for suburban teachers, and leadership training provided for charter school and other public school administrators through the proposed Leadership Academy.

Name of Applicant and Partners: The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) leads this project. Collaborators include Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), West Metro Education Program (WMEP), Minneapolis Parent Information Centers, Inc. (MPIC), and the Center for School Change (CSC) at the University of Minnesota. Both MPS and WMEP are LEAs.

Contributions for research policy and practice: Through this project MDE is expanding upon and improving an established public school choice and voluntary integration program, by offering an even wider variety of academically strong choices-especially for families of children who are currently attending schools in need of improvement-and providing necessary ongoing academic support and mentoring services needed for students to succeed. Established public school choice and voluntary integration programs and their impact on students' academic achievement and lifelong learning are areas that can provide important information for research, policy, and practice for States with similar characteristics.

Replication of promising practices and school choice strategies: The demonstrated positive outcomes (increased knowledge of and access to the public school choice process that result in greater student participation) of strategies employed to date and the anticipated positive outcomes (increased academic achievement; higher retention, graduation, and PSEO participation rates) of proposed strategies make this project suitable for replication in similar urban environments-with the ultimate goal of affecting embedded, integrated, systemic change in support of provisions for public school choice.

Inter-district Approach: One of the project partners, West Metro Education Program (WMEP), is an interdistrict collaboration of 11 urban and suburban school districts and two inter-district magnet schools. MDE's VPSC project focuses on a partnership with MPS that offers urban-suburban and now, suburban-urban student transfers. In addressing declining enrollment in Minneapolis Public Schools, the need for high performing secondary school programs, expanding magnet and charter school programs, and offering a variety of academic tutoring and support services for students, this project supports the State's general open enrollment policy.


Grantee Name:Your Schools, Your Choice Public School Choice (the PROJECT)
Project Contact: Robert Sanft, (212)374-6702
FY 2007-2008 Funding:$2,706,984

Goal: Your Schools, Your Choice (the PROJECT) is designed to expand and improve the operation of parental and student choice initiatives across the City, by both expanding choices for eligible students and improving student and family decision-making based on school performance data.

Objectives: The PROJECT will: (1) Empower parents and increase choice across the system of New York City schools, particularly middle and high schools; and, (2) Improve student and parental understanding of school performance measures by (a) making the NCLB choice process more transparent, (b) increasing the supply of transfer seats, and (c) improving the ability of schools to educate transfer students.

Outcomes: The New York City Department of Education's (NYCDOE) implementation of the PROJECT is expected to: (1) Increase in the number of transfer seats in public schools including charter schools; (2) Improve decision-making by parents during the transfer process that reflects higher numbers of students following-through on transfer offers; (3) Result in a flow of students transferring from D and F to A and B schools (as designated under the NYC accountability standards); (4) Increase the number of students transferring from schools in need of improvement (SINI) to non-SINI schools; (5) Increase student academic performance, focusing on transferring students; and, (6) Cause increases in academic achievement reflected in overall school-level and system-wide statistics.

Number of Students (Grades K-12) and Teachers/Administrators Served: The PROJECT impacts over 80,000 students in the High School Admissions Process and over 300,000 students eligible for transfers under NCLB. Teachers and administrators will participate in professional development activities.

Name of Applicant and Partners: The applicant is the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) and it has jurisdiction over thirty-two (32) Community School Districts, in partnership with the New York City Center for Charter School Excellence.

Contributions for research policy and practice: The PROJECT provides an ideal opportunity to test the tenets of market behavior and rational economic behavior that underlie the choice programs of NCLB. The size of the school system in New York City, the ability to cross district and neighborhood lines without excessive transportation burden, and the consistency of the wider reform initiative all provide an excellent foundation for research and policy development, informative to the national discussion. The PROJECT will utilize a scientific evaluation model involving a quasi-experimental design (defined by NCLB regulations) that includes comparison of target and matched pair control pupils on academic achievement in core content areas, as assessed by pre-and post program scores on valid and reliable New York State standardized test. In addition, this project will ascertain the influence of transfers from SINI to non-SINI schools on students. The PROJECT will also look at the impact choice of types of receiving schools (A, B, C, D, or F) has on student achievement.

Replication of promising practices and school choice strategies: The PROJECT's design includes an incentives approach. For the last several years, NYC has worked to develop a unified system of schools across 32 school districts, including coherent methods of choice in high schools. Greater focus is being given, now in the second stage of the reform, to create rational and transparent choice processes at the secondary school level. NYCDOE is launching a deep accountability initiative, reinforcing NCLB accountability with rich progress review reports on each school, including absolute achievement levels, school environment surveys, and value added metrics for individual students. School funding levels are being clarified to ensure that funding is based on the number and kinds of students served.

Inter-district Approach: The 32 Community School Districts present a wide divergence of demographic and achievement data. Some Community School Districts (e.g. CSD 26 in Queens) have no Title I SINI schools; some have very few (e.g. CSD 31 in Staten Island); and others have high numbers of designated SINI schools (e.g. CSD 9 in the Bronx and CSD 19 in Brooklyn). The PROJECT will be operated out of the NYCDOE's Office of Student Enrollment Planning and Operations (OSEPO). OSEPO has full jurisdiction over the NCLB voluntary public school choice process across all 32 Community School Districts. The inter-district student transfers occurring among the 32 CSDs result from the NCLB Choice process. The PROJECT will increase inter-district transfers by providing supports for transfer students at receiving schools, helping parents make informed choices, driving incentives (including locally funded financial incentives) for principals to open additional NCLB seats, and increasing charter school participation in the transfer process.


Grantee Name:Voluntary Public School Choice Phase II
Project Contacts: Judy Brennan, (503)916-3205
Susan Jordan, (503)916-3447
FY 2007-2008 Funding:$1,597,242

Goals: The primary focus of Portland Public School's Voluntary Public School Choice: Phase II Project is to expand and enhance the initial success of school choice for 46,345 students in the greater Portland area. The five Phase II Project goals are to: (1) Expand and enhance choice options and access in high need and low performing schools and neighborhoods; (2) Develop and implement choice beyond secondary school using a K-16 model linked to the Connected by 25 initiative; (3) Expand the role of parents in school choice and their access to information; (4) Expand support to students to ensure success before, during, and after choice, and; (5) Complete a comprehensive web-based choice process for replication outside the district and State.

Objectives: The Phase II Project will: (1) Replicate or initiate a minimum of two successful choice options operating within the district onto school campuses within the three clusters that previously have been underserved by choice; (2) Strengthen choice options in high-risk schools resulting in increased attendance and a decrease in the percentage of students who seek and choose challenging choices outside neighborhood schools, based on inequity of high quality and rigorous program options; (3) Add two focus options per year within geographically-targeted areas and increase the high school graduation rate across the school district and in the targeted high schools (Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Marshall); (4) Produce an enrollment increase in higher education across the district and targeted high schools; (5) Increase the percentage of high school students who enroll in and successfully complete college-level courses (through dual enrollment and/or college classes) at targeted high schools; (6) Beginning in year 1, each student at the three targeted high schools will receive information about the Connected by 25 initiative (to successfully engage every young person in education or employment by age 25); (7) Increase parent and family access to school choice options at each district school, charter school, and two Family Support Centers; (8) Include parents as a part of the decision making process by creating two slots on the School Choice Advisory Team (SCAT) for parents; (8) Provide full-time staff support for two Family Support Centers to assist parents and students in identifying and selecting school choice options; (9) Provide information and data to parents and family members about students who transfer to schools outside of their neighborhoods, including the support opportunities available to them; (10) Provide information to students and their parents who select choice about support services for transferring students, prior to the beginning of the school year; (11) Ensure students, who select choice and experience a decline in student performance, have access to no-cost and site-based academic tutoring, and (12) Complete the final year's testing of software and developing the web-based, centralized, computerized lottery for transfer applications. By the end of the grant cycle, the lottery and best fit identification programs will be available in both English and Spanish.

Outcomes: Project outcomes include improved student achievement in reading and math at all levels, increased graduation and attendance rates, and the implementation of rigorous and engaging choice options leading to success in college and the workplace.

Number of Students (Grades K-16) and Teachers/Administrators Served: All students in the Portland metropolitan area will be able to participate in school choice options, including 43,673 currently attending one of 89 schools within the Portland Public School district, and over 1,200 expected to enroll in one of seven partner charter schools. Over 3,100 faculty will be involved in the transition of students as they elect school choice and transition into new educational environments.

Name of Applicant and Partners: The lead applicant is Portland Public Schools, in partnership with Portland Charter Schools Consortium, and Portland Community College.

Contributions for research policy and practice: Contributions to research policy and practice include: maximizing resources, building partnerships, creating sustainable capacity to facilitate student choice and flexibility, ensuring academic rigor in every subject in every grade at every school, implementing computerized and web-based technologies to increase the best fit for each student, providing challenging and engaging focus options at school sites, strengthening schools that have ceased to be viable options within their own neighborhoods, recognizing the early signs of academic slippage as students transition to new schools and immediately providing support, bringing parents and family members into the decision making process as knowledgeable consumers, and-most importantly-increasing student achievement through opportunity.

Replication of promising practices and school choice strategies: Phase II will connect a sophisticated, web-based lottery and parent information systems to a wide selection of academic focus options throughout the city, culminating in a data- and research-based approach intended for replication across the nation.

Inter-district Approach: Seven public charter schools form the Portland Charter Schools consortium, and when merged with the focus options offered through Portland Public Schools, represent a full slate of approaches and opportunities for students. All of the charter schools made adequate yearly progress (AYP), none are in school improvement, and all are considered to be high performing. Phase II will increase access for students transferring from low performing schools into any of the partner charter schools. A second step in Phase II includes an expansion of the current collaboration that operates within the Multnomah Education Service District (MESD), an education service district that currently offers services to nine school districts. With the exception of PPS, the largest district, the other districts range in size from 500 to 10,515 student populations.


Grantee Name:BVIU Inter-district Voluntary Public School Choice Project
Project Contact: Marianne LeDonne, (724)774-7800, extension 3009
FY 2007-2008 Funding:$1,738,842

Goals: The goals of the Beaver Valley Intermediate Unit (BVIU) Inter-district Voluntary Public School Choice Project are to: (1) Provide 12,601 students in grades 7-12 (15 middle and 14 high schools) and their parents/guardians with a menu of four high quality choices; (2) Redesign the current school system of small isolated districts with few students to an equitable, collaborative partnership which will strengthen the academic infrastructure and increase student achievement in reading and mathematics, and (3) Provide a replicable inter-district choice model for small, locally controlled schools districts where efforts to provide equity of educational opportunities have been exasperated by isolation, declining enrollments, and finite resources.

Objectives: The BVIU VPSC Project will: 1) Enable students to physically transfer from one school to another to take courses or entire programs based on the student's educational needs; (2) Utilize the newly-installed fiber optics network to increase academic rigor and learning time for students by offering a wide variety of cyber services anytime; (3) Increase the number of students taking college credits and receiving college scholarships in high school by offering courses at a central location provided by multiple postsecondary institutions; (4) Increase academic achievement in reading and math, especially for disengaged students who are at risk of dropping out of school (the Academy for Success); (5) Embed annual sustained, best practices in professional development based upon State and national standards; (6) Conduct a countywide public relations campaign to inform parents of their choice options; and, (7) Develop a dissemination package that includes the project design, services, and projected outcomes.

Outcomes: It is expected that: 1) Parents/guardians of students will respond that they are aware of and pleased with the choices offered to students and ten percent of the students will transfer to another school for a course, several courses, or an entire program, with the majority being students from low performing schools, 2) Students will have extended learning time by taking at least one cyber service and students will take at least one college course, 3) There will be a reduction in student dropouts , 4) All four choices will be available and faculty teams will develop quality courses to help standardize the core curriculum in every middle and high school, and 5) More students will reach proficiency in reading and math on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA).

Number of Students (Grades 7-12) and Teachers/Administrators Served: This project will impact 12,601 students. By project end, 1,260 students will transfer to another school for a course, several courses, or an entire program.

Name of Applicant and Partners: The lead applicant is Beaver Valley Intermediate Unit (BVIU), in partnership with the 15 public school districts, the Beaver County Vocational-Technical School, the two Beaver County Charter Schools and surrounding Colleges of Beaver County, Pennsylvania. BVIU is the county's Educational Service Agency. It supports the needs of 15 school districts and 25,002 students (K-12) who make up the public school system of Beaver County and leads educational reform initiatives, as well as professional development for school districts. The districts are in close proximity to one another and each district has student transportation services.

Contributions for research policy and practice: A review of the past three years of the PSSA achievement data reveals four distinct categories of student performance in Beaver County: (1) Low Performing Districts; (2) Under Performing Districts; (3) Promising Districts; and (4) High Performing Districts. With this mixture of low and high achieving schools, the geographic proximity of these schools, and the county's fiber optics network, students from low performing schools can easily attend any of the high performing schools. Plus, with the advanced planning and stakeholder input that has occurred, and the support and commitment of fifteen superintendents, this unique BVIU partnership can develop a regional school choice model with a menu of varied options capable of meeting the educational needs of all participating students.

Replication of promising practices and school choice strategies: This inter-district choice model has the potential to be replicated in small, rural, locally controlled school districts in Pennsylvania, as well as other States where efforts by individual school districts to provide high quality choices for students are exasperated by turf issues, isolation, declining enrollments, and finite resources. All 15 Superintendents are united in the desire for systemic change and for a collaborative response to the educational needs of all students in the county.

Inter-district Approach: The BVIU has established a strong partnership with 15 public school districts, the two charter schools in the County of Beaver and area colleges. The four choice options require an inter-district approach with the collaboration and cooperation of all Beaver County's LEA's, postsecondary institutions, and charter schools. The Superintendent's Governing Board will meet twice monthly for the first two years and once monthly, thereafter, to oversee the planning and implementation of this project.


Grantee Name:The Spartanburg Scholars Academy
Project Contact: Deryle Hope, Ed.D., (864)503-5331
FY 2007-2008 Funding:$427,614

Goals: The Spartanburg Scholars Academy (SSA) has three primary goals: (1) To educate the students enrolled in the academy with a focus on a high level of academic achievement within the context of international experiences; (2) To serve as a model for educational change in public school districts by providing a template for college preparatory, honors, and advanced placement coursework, and high teacher/learner expectations; and, (3) To provide the catalyst for collaboration, cooperation, and professional development among the participating districts and post-secondary institutions by exploring alternative mechanisms for addressing a variety of populations and academic needs within the county.

Objectives: Spartanburg County is the home of 7 public school districts. All of the districts have been faced annually with the simultaneous twin challenges of serving an increasing student population, while raising achievement levels for all students. The latter challenge has been especially daunting at the secondary school level. Of the 9 high schools in Spartanburg County only 2 have achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for the past two consecutive years, based on NCLB provisions. The South Carolina exit exam for high schools is required for all 10th grade students. It also shows declining scores. To bring about improved academic performance at the secondary level and reverse the declining trends, district administrations are urgent to expand the academic choice available to students and parents. With these interests in mind, the instructional administrations of the 7 districts, in conjunction with the School of Education of the University of South Carolina, have agreed to pursue this partnership that allows the establishment of the Spartanburg Scholars Academy (the Academy) to be housed on the university campus. The Academy will draw students from the 9 high schools and offer a rigorous curriculum of high school and college-level courses. The Academy will provide a unique academic experience for 100 students who are currently enrolled in Spartanburg's low performing high schools. The Academy will ensure: (1) Students perform at high achievement levels on a variety of measures. (2) Students participate in required and voluntary international workshops, seminars, forums, conferences, travel and study abroad. [Non-VPSC funding] (3) Teachers in school districts visit the Academy and attend academy events and activities. (4) Districts' school teachers adopt instructional unit/lesson plans developed by Academy teachers. (5) School district teachers enroll in professional development courses offered through the Academy/university. (6) Success of the Academy leads to new ventures serving other target populations.

Outcomes: The Academy will serve as a showcase for change utilizing its 7 target components: (1) The Academy will provide a unique scholarly environment on the university campus with immediate access for students to intellectual, technological, and social resources. (2) Course rigor will be ensured through a challenging curriculum of honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses offered for high school credit, as well as a variety of college courses that will be contracted specifically for the high school cohort. (3) Curriculum design will be age and cognition appropriate for students to have the advantage of beginning with accelerated high school coursework before moving into more demanding university-level requirements. (4) Curriculum throughout the 4 years of the Academy will be structured along the thematic approach of comparisons, contrasts, and integration of the international sphere with a national and local focus. (5) High levels of professional development will occur for teachers and professors who work in the Academy. This will be an essential component of the Academy's success. (6) Student engagement and mentoring will be facilitated by matching Academy students with college students, professors, and teachers who share similar intellectual and extracurricular interests. (7) Parental and community involvement are essential features of the 7-point plan and will provide the basis for interchange, discussion, program adjustment, and re-design.

Number of Students (Grades 9-12) Served Annually.

In the Academy:
Year 1: 25
Year 3: 75
Year 2: 50
Year 4: 100

In the District:
Year 1: 50
Year 3: 50
Year 2: 100
Year 4: 200

Teachers and Administrators Served Annually

Year 1: 40
Year 2: 75
Year 3: 125
Year 4: 175

Name of Applicant and Partners: The lead applicant is the University of South Carolina, in partnership with Spartanburg County Schools (Districts 1-7).

Contributions for research policy and practice: This project offers unique opportunities by addressing: (1) Research on issues of student achievement, curriculum content, design and sequence; instructional delivery; teacher expertise and learning community size; (2) Policy as it relates to a model for cooperation among school districts with differing agendas and diverse populations; and, (3) Practice regarding vertical articulation processes with post-secondary institutions that has promise in improving K-16 education.

Replication of promising practices and school choice strategies: The project design consists of a 7-point program to provide a model for secondary reform and inter-district school choice. The project challenges the implementation and sustainability of a program that will provide an action template for other educational partnerships with similar components that can be replicated: (1) Spartanburg County is not a unified public school district, but consists of different districts with their own administration, culture, traditions, and history. (2) Alignment of curriculum within schools districts can be accomplished as it relates to college coursework and expectations for postsecondary work in a competitive international environment. (3) This international approach of academy can provide fertile ground for partnerships and sponsorships with over 75 international companies located in Spartanburg County. (4) An evaluation study will include a report on best practices that will be published and made available annually to school districts and the general public. The Spartanburg model offers a blueprint for cooperation among contiguous school districts to provide unique school choice options that are mutually accessible.

Inter-district Approach: The project is a joint venture of the University of South Carolina Upstate and 7 Spartanburg County public school districts. The Spartanburg Academy will be an institution where county high school students take classes at the University of South Carolina Upstate in the morning and return to their base high school for the afternoon classes. Thus, the partnership forms a joint-venture high school in which students take honors and advanced placement courses taught by high school teachers on the university campus.


Grantee Name:KIPP Excelso: A Voluntary Public School Choice Program
Project Contacts:Courtney Zelaya, (832)328-1051, extension 1584
Katy Gill, (832)328-1051, extension, 1585
FY 2007-2008 Funding:$1,607,254

Goals: The goals of KIPP Excelso are to expand a proven, highly acclaimed, ten-year-old model of public school choice in Houston, Texas. This project, whose name means, "exquisite, choice, select" in Spanish has four program goals: (1) To establish a foundation of human and material infrastructure necessary to expand the KIPP model of voluntary public school choice to thousands of Houston's children who are currently on the waiting list to attend KIPP, and others who are learning about KIPP; (2) To provide parents and the public with information and support regarding high-quality public education options; (3) To provide thousands of economically and educationally disadvantaged students including those who are currently attending schools in need of improvement, with a viable public school alternative within the city of Houston; and (4) To strengthen public and private-sector partnerships.

Objectives: KIPP Excelso's project objectives are to: (a) Support management and leadership for multiple KIPP campuses serving PK-12 students and professional development efforts; (b) Enhance program development to ensure ongoing program expansion, support, and capacity building; (c) Strengthen curriculum and instructional support; (d) Create the KIPP Accelerator program to ready students not enrolled in KIPP lower schools for matriculation to KIPP middle school campuses; (e) Promote teacher recruitment to staff the growing KIPP network; (f) Broaden communication/marketing plans to ensure KIPP schools are welcomed in new neighborhoods and address financial concerns of KIPP Excelso charter schools; (g) Increase technology available to support the KIPP Excelso program staff and new participating schools; and (h) Conduct Excelso's program evaluation to identify lessons learned and school choice strategies worthy of replication.

Outcomes: KIPP Excelso schools will continue to expand the network of innovative school models created by KIPP for excellent teaching and learning by aiming to: provide rigorous, well-rounded education with outstanding instruction; significantly increase student achievement, create high-quality pathways to postsecondary education; and, act as demonstration sites to inform innovative teaching and learning throughout the State and nationwide. KIPP has earned national attention for its results in educating traditionally underserved students.

Number of Students (Grades K-12) and Teachers/Administrators Served: KIPP currently educates 1,520 students at seven schools in Houston and ultimately plans to educate 21,000 students. In the 2007-2008 school year, KIPP is serving more than 2,400 students.

Name of Applicant and Partners: KIPP, Inc. is the lead applicant, in partnership with the following charter schools that comprise the Excelso Program: KIPP SHINE Prep (elementary school, PreK3-2nd grade), KIPP DREAM Prep (elementary school, PreK4-Kindergarten), KIPP Academy Middle School (middle school, 5th-8th grades), KIPP 3D Academy (middle school, 5th-8 grades, KIPP Sharpstown (middle school, 5th grade), KIPP Polaris Academy for Boys (middle school, 5th grade); KIPP Spirit College Prep (middle school, grades 5th-6th), KIPP Liberation College Prep (middle school, grades 5th-6th), KIPP Houston High School (high school, grades 9th-12th). KIPP schools traditionally add one grade each year, until fully grown.

Contributions for research policy and practice: KIPP, Inc. was born in Houston and is currently home to the largest number of KIPP campuses (9 of 57 nationwide). As a result, the expansion and capacity building proposed in the Excelso Program may affect policy and practice as it relates to scalability and replication of successful charter school models. Despite a higher number of "at-risk factors," KIPP students achieve and graduate from high school college-ready at astounding rates.

Replication of promising practices and school choice strategies: Based on this specific KIPP Excelso model, there are a number of potentially promising practices and school choice strategies that can be identified from this project: (1) Developing and maintaining positive relationships with local communities and the media, (2) Growing a network of charter schools; (3) Establishing collaborative partnerships with diverse stakeholders; (4) Managing teacher/principal recruitment, and, (5) Increasing graduation rates and college readiness for students deemed to be "at -risk."

Inter-district Approach: KIPP schools are located in East, Southwest, and Central Houston neighborhoods, and do not "zone" students to attend any of its campuses. To manage transportation costs which are huge in the fourth largest city in the nation, KIPP has established priority zip codes for each of its campuses, with the approval of the Texas Education Agency (TEA). However, children still enroll at KIPP schools from all around the city. With the expansion, this challenge should be eased. This allows another dimension of personal and inter-district choice. KIPP charter schools select students through an unbiased, open enrollment lottery process that allows students from low-performing schools to transfer at the same level of consideration as students from other campuses. Currently, there is a 2,500- student waiting list. For every student enrolled in a KIPP Houston school, there are four currently waiting. School districts impacted by KIPP include Alief Independent School District (47,663 students), Houston Independent School District (202, 936 students), and North Forest Independent School District (9,953 students).

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Last Modified: 11/21/2007