Paving a New Path: The Growth of Illinois Charter Schools Outside of Chicago

Students at 8 Points Charter Middle School in Jacksonville, Ill., are prepared to succeed in high school academically, socially, and emotionally. (Photo courtesy of 8 Points Charter Schools)

Students at 8 Points Charter Middle School in Jacksonville, Ill., are prepared to succeed in high school academically, socially, and emotionally. (Photo courtesy of 8 Points Charter Schools)

During the past three years, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) has dramatically expanded its work to educate Illinois residents about the charter school model, and to support charter school “design teams”— made up of teachers, former educators, and community organizations, for example — that seek to launch new, high-quality public schools in their respective communities. With support from the Office of Innovation and Improvement, INCS has grown its Charter Starter Consulting program to deliver consistent content and counsel to design teams while maintaining a strong focus on customized services. As a result, INCS has planted the seeds for additional charter schools to thrive, especially outside of Chicago, Illinois’ largest city, and to raise student achievement for increasing numbers of Illinois students.

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Success in Arizona: A Focus on Increasing Quality Schools in Phoenix’s Urban Core

Vista Prep founder Julia Meyerson (left) observes a small-group lesson to provide coaching and support for the teacher. Vista Prep is a New Schools For Phoenix pilot school that achieved impressive results in its inaugural year. (Photo courtesy of New Schools For Phoenix)

Vista College Prep founder Julia Meyerson (left) observes a small-group lesson to provide coaching and support for the teacher. Vista Prep is a New Schools For Phoenix pilot school that achieved impressive results in its inaugural year. (Photo courtesy of New Schools For Phoenix)

Phoenix charter school leaders Jenna Leahy and Tacey Clayton believe that something has to change for students in the nation’s sixth-largest city. The majority of the 215 public schools in the Phoenix urban core serve low-income, minority students, and of those schools, only 8 percent received an “A” — the highest academic performance label — in 2014.

After two years of leadership and school development, Jenna and Tacey are poised to help change the life paths of Phoenix students, as CASA Academy opened its doors to 149 students in kindergarten through second grade this August.

CASA and six other schools are part of a new initiative, New Schools For Phoenix, that grew out of a three-year, $1,179,855 National Leadership Activities grant from OII’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) to the Arizona Charter Schools Association in 2010.

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New ED Blog Spotlights Current Education Transformations

The U.S. Department of Education has launched a new online resource, PROGRESS, to highlight state and local innovative ideas, promising practices, lessons learned, and resources informed by the implementation of K-12 education reforms.

These stories will showcase the exciting transformations taking place in classrooms, schools, and systems across the country through the leadership of teachers, school, district and state leaders and their partners.

The Department launched PROGRESS to emphasize the voices and perspectives of educators, students, and administrators to better understand how policy changes are spurring education improvement and to draw out what can be learned from areas of progress occurring at the state and local levels.

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New ED Resources Offer Reform Insights and Help

Just in time for the New Year, the Department of Education has launched two new education reform resources. Bookshelf is a series of ready-made presentations that highlight numerous focus areas in education. The presentation slide decks present facts, charts, data, and other information reflecting progress and challenges in improving education, as well as ED programs and initiatives that aim to close achievement gaps and foster equal educational opportunities. The presentations are available to the public for download and use.

The Department has also created a new blog, Progress: Teachers, Leaders, and Students Transforming Education, to highlight state and local innovative ideas, promising practices, lessons learned, and resources informed by the implementation of K-12 education reforms. These lessons from the field showcase reforms in action spurred by programs such as Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, School Improvement Grants, Promise Neighborhoods, and ESEA Flexibility. The new blog is intended to provide insight into the exciting transformations taking place in classrooms, schools, and systems across the country through the leadership of teachers, school, district and state leaders and their partners.

Plan to visit these new Web resources in 2014 in addition to staying connected to OII’s home page. Not subscribed to our home page yet? Click here to subscribe and follow us on Twitter @ED_OII.

 

Comments Invited on Charter School Program’s National Leadership Activities Grants

The U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) invites public comment on the notice of proposed priorities, requirements, and definitions for CSP grants for National Leadership Activities, published in the December 3rd Federal Register. The Department may use these proposed priorities, requirements, and definitions for a National Leadership Activities competition in FY 2014 and beyond.

Proposed priorities included in this notice will be used to ensure that grant projects funded under future National Leadership Activities competitions address key policy issues currently facing charter schools and impact stakeholders on a national scale. The proposed priorities will also create incentives for organizations to improve the quality of charter schools by providing technical assistance and other types of support on issues of national significance and scope and by disseminating information to stakeholder

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Department Awards Nearly $5 Million in Charter School Grants for Planning, Program Design, Implementation and Dissemination

(October 5, 2011)  The U.S. Department of Education announced today charter school grants totaling $4,792,526 to charter developers for planning, program design, and initial implementation, as well as for dissemination. These Charter School Program Non-state Educational Agency (Non-SEA) grants will assist in expanding the number of high quality charter schools in the nation by providing funding to 23 new, or recently opened, charter schools over the next three years. These grants will also provide three high quality charter schools the ability to partner with other charter and non-charter public schools to improve academic performance and share effective practices.

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