Charter Blog by Author

 

Share 

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Googleplus Email

Interview with CRPE’s Betheny Gross on Blended Learning Model Innovations

Blended learning is an innovative education model that combines online and traditional instruction. The Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study the financial implications of a range of blended learning models. I caught up with Dr. Betheny Gross, CRPE’s senior research analyst and research director, to talk about the study. Q: What is the framework of the study? A: There are two parts to the study.  One is to continue to develop a classification of blended [learning]. People take different approaches to blended learning. Many of the approaches are similar, but with their own take depending on different theories of action about teaching and learning. Some people go into blended thinking they need to radically personalize [education] for each student, and the best way we can do that is to harness technology. There are others that think about how best to optimize teachers by maximizing opportunities for kids to have in-depth discussions with teachers who are addressing their specific needs and goals. A way to do that is to have some of the instruction and curriculum happen over technology. Part of the work we’re doing is thinking through theories of action…what type of school do they imply in terms of teachers and technology, and then costing it out. In our observation of schools that are implementing these models, we’re asking and commenting on questions such as: What does the resource allocation look like? What resources are needed for start-up and for continuation [schools]? How are resources distributed throughout the building? Do traditional revenue structures correspond or not to the way these schools need to structure their resources? Q: What is the motivation of the study? A: A lot of people are looking to blended as something that’s a new and a vital piece of our progress in education. They’re seeing it as an opportunity to expand the capacity and productivity of teachers in schools. There’s a lot of energy behind it right now, and a lot of development going on in the field to make sure that there’s good research to support that development. Q: What do you hope to find out? A: What we want to understand is how resources are used, and the extent that we see a new distribution of labor and technology for the delivery of instruction. We also want to understand how schools pursuing this work can do it in a sustainable way. This is a challenging question because so many of the schools engaging in blended learning received substantial start-up grants. And we know that there are and can be rather substantial startup or transition costs, especially if it requires a big investment in network and fiber. Q: What role do public charter schools play in blended learning? A: Public charter schools are called on to be our innovators, to be our incubators. They have both the incentive and opportunity to really explore these models because of their ability to optimize resources in schools. I think there are a lot of incentives for charters. It’s not lost on anybody in the charter sector that they have to be very careful with budgets, which tend to be very tight. This is an opportunity to think through how technology can optimize their resources. With the freedom public charter schools have around resource allocation, they really do have the opportunity to go out and rethink the whole school from top to bottom. They don’t need to have 15 classrooms with a teacher and 30 kids in them. They don’t need to think about [getting] into spend-it-or-lose-it arrangements. They can think about how to structure their spending; how to reconfigure their revenue and expenditure flows; and different ways to structure pay for teachers. This is all within their reach–they don’t have many of the traditional revenue or expenditure constraints that district schools are now slowly unpacking. Charters can move very quickly. It’s not a surprise that a lot of the schools in our study are public charter schools. Q: What role do you see blended learning playing in the future of public education? A: I think it depends on what we find in these early studies, and there are also impact studies going on. I anticipate, although I don’t have any particular evidence to back this up, that we are going to see it more and more. I think that it’s an approach that addresses a lot of resource challenges that we are facing. I think it’s also an approach that’s very respecting of the fact that kids are brought up interacting with information differently than we did when we were kids. It tries to take advantage of that, and meet kids where they are with how they work with and think through information. And in that sense, it has a lot of great potential. Q: What is the timeline of the study? A: The study is a 19 month study starting from last December. An interim report will come out sometime in the fall, and then the final will be out the following summer. Behtany       Photo: Dr. Betheny Gross, Senior Research Analyst and Research Director at the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE)

Share 

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Googleplus Email

NCSC July 3: Last chance to Attend Great Sessions!

Even though it is the closing day of the National Charter Schools Conference, July 3 will still be a day full of eye catching sessions. In the morning from 7:45 AM – 8:45 AM there will be a networking breakfast held before the sessions. Here are a few sessions to look out for on Wednesday: NASA STEM Education: Bringing NASA’s BEST (Beginning Engineering, Science and Technology) into the classroom- July 3rd, 8:00 AM-10:30 AM The NASA’s BEST (Beginning Engineering, Science and Technology) project provides professional development for educators and curriculum support resources with a space exploration theme. The NASA educators will be explaining the hands-on, problem solving activity to design and build a Mars Rover and its landing system to arrive intact and upright on the remote surface. NASA will be introducing the Engineering Design Process in STEM for elementary and middle school classrooms. The presenters for the session will be Leslie Garrison (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), Michelle Graf (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), Susan Hoban (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), Catherine Kruchten (NASA), and Alexis O’Malley (NASA). NCSC day 3           Closing Session – July 3rd, 10:45 AM-12:00 PM Amanda Ripley will be the closing session speaker. Amanda Ripley is an award-winning author and investigative journalist. She currently serves as a Bernard L. Schwartz Fellow at the nonpartisan New America Foundation where she has written several recent feature stories about school reform, kids, and teachers. Ripley has built up an impressive body of work over the course of her career including a dozen cover stories for Time, features for The Atlantic and a variety of other leading publications, and her upcoming book The Smartest Kids in the World. In addition to writing, Ripley has briefed at the Pentagon, the Senate, the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, the Peace Corps and FEMA. She will draw on both her storytelling and public policy expertise in our brand new Closing Session this summer. We’re excited to have her and know that hearing her take on the charter school movement will be a great way to wrap up this year’s National Charter Schools Conference. NCSC Amanda Ripley

Share 

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Googleplus Email

Behind the Mic: Armando Pérez, 2013 National Charter Schools Conference Speaker

Armando Pérez, also known as Pitbull, is a man who goes beyond expectations. Mr. Pérez is more than an international music superstar; he is a civil leader within his community. Recently, Mr. Pérez was featured on The Today ShowNPR, and Good Morning America discussing his endeavors to start a charter school in his hometown of Miami, Florida. In fall 2013, Mr. Pérez is opening Sports Leadership and Management (SLAM) public charter school for middle and high school students who wish to pursue a career in athletics. The school’s mission is to “provide an innovative, in-depth educational program preparing students for secondary studies and beyond through an emphasis of sports-related career preparation.” SLAM’s vision believes in providing “Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships” in its educational programs to produce college bound and career-oriented graduates. At the National Charter Schools Conference, we’ll have a stellar lineup of keynote speakers that can attest to the conference-wide theme, “Delivering on the Dream.” Our goal is to equip our attendees with the tools they need to help their students turn their dreams into reality. Mr. Pérez’s story of growth from childhood in an impoverished Miami neighborhood to helping found a public charter school is an indicator that this conference is set to inspire. Join us at the 2013 National Charter Schools Conference from June 30-July 3 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. Register today (March 9th-June 7th for regular registration rates) on the conference website. If you have any questions about the conference please email nationalconference@publiccharters.org or call: 1-800-280-6218. Pitbull_blog                           Armando Pérez, also known as Pitbull

Share 

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Googleplus Email

Countdown to National Charter Schools Week (2 days to go)

National Charter Schools Week (NCSW) is just around the corner—May 5th-11th. During National Charter Schools Week, we celebrate achievements in the school house and the state house. These achievements could not have been possible without the commitment of teachers, leaders, parents, and advocates from all parts of the country. Check out our toolkit for ways you can participate in NCSW! During NCSW, we present the Champions for Charters awards to recognize public officials for leading a major public charter issue or initiative, serving as a highly visible public charter school advocate, and consistently supporting charters as a quality public school choice option. As we countdown to NCSW 2013, let’s draw inspiration from a past Champion for Charter recipient. 2010 Champion for Charters – U.S. Representative Jared Polis (D-CO-2nd) Congressman Polis introduced the bipartisan All Students Achieving through Reform Act (All-STAR), H.R. 4330, to support the expansion and replication of high-quality public charter schools that close the achievement gap. It is a key proposal and recognized as the most important piece of federal charter school legislation proposed since the original Charter Schools Program in 1994. Throughout his public service, Rep. Polis, who founded and served as superintendent of charter schools serving at-risk students, has worked hard to ensure that public charter schools are treated fairly and have equal access to education dollars. “The All-STAR Act is about making the very best educational practices at America’s leading charter schools available to more students,” said Polis. “It’s as simple as finding what does and doesn’t work, funding the best schools, and giving every student the best possible education. This bill will provide hope and opportunity to tens of thousands of additional children at new or expanded charter schools.”

Share 

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Googleplus Email

Countdown to National Charter Schools Week (8 days to go)

National Charter Schools Week (NCSW) is just around the corner—May 5th-11th. During National Charter Schools Week, we celebrate achievements in the school house and the state house. These achievements could not have been possible without the commitment of teachers, leaders, parents and advocates from all parts of the country. Check out our toolkit for ways you can participate in NCSW! “While ‘innovation’ can be defined and operationalized in numerous ways, we believe innovation is the development of more effective practices and processes that not only result in advancing student achievement, but also instill the habits of mind required for our children to access the college and career pathways of the 21st Century. This is, in fact, our mission and the mindset undergirding the STEM Prep model.”Kristin McGraner, Ed.D., Founder & Executive Director of STEM Preparatory Academy in Nashville, TN.

Share 

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Googleplus Email

Countdown to National Charter Schools Week (5 days to go)

National Charter Schools Week (NCSW) is just around the corner—May 5th-11th. During National Charter Schools Week, we celebrate achievements in the school house and the state house. These achievements could not have been possible without the commitment of teachers, leaders, parents and advocates from all parts of the country. Check out our toolkit for ways you can participate in NCSW! “For me, school was about survival, not education. If I could make it through the day without getting into a fight, I had learned something. Even though I grew up in a middle class suburb, based on district zoning, I had to attend one of the low-performing high schools in my area. That was my only option…I decided to become an advocate for charter schools because I believe that a quality education should be free to everyone and not marginalize students based on zoning rules or circumstances that have no reflection on their ability to learn.”Janel “Jay” Wright, Community Outreach Manager of the New Jersey Charter Schools association

Share 

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Googleplus Email

Countdown to National Charter Schools Week (6 days to go)

National Charter Schools Week (NCSW) is just around the corner—May 5th-11th. During National Charter Schools Week, we celebrate achievements in the school house and the state house. These achievements could not have been possible without the commitment of teachers, leaders, parents and advocates from all parts of the country. Check out our toolkit for ways you can participate in NCSW! “I feel that parents are a child’s first and most important advocate. Empowering parents with the tools they need to make an informed decision on which path is best for their child is essential to the charter school movement. Charter schools are an option for parents that enhance and challenge a child’s educational experience.” Kwan GrahamParents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina

Share 

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Googleplus Email

Countdown to National Charter Schools Week (4 days to go)

National Charter Schools Week (NCSW) is just around the corner—May 5th-11th. During National Charter Schools Week, we celebrate achievements in the school house and the state house. These achievements could not have been possible without the commitment of teachers, leaders, parents and advocates from all parts of the country. Check out our toolkit for ways you can participate in NCSW! “In my 14 years at Jumoke Academy, a public K-8 charter school in Hartford, CT, I have seen what can happen when committed teachers and school administrators confront the high needs of a low-income and minority population head on. Jumoke was founded in 1997 by my mother, Thelma Ellis Dickerson, a lifelong advocate for education reform and former president of the Hartford Board of Education, to eliminate the achievement gap for the city of Hartford. It was her fervent belief that, ‘if we provided a safe, supportive but rigorous learning environment for children, staffed with high-quality teachers who challenged students to learn at the highest levels, we could change the face of public education in the city of Hartford for the absolute better.’”Michael Sharpe, CEO of Jumoke Academy, President of the Connecticut Charter School Association, board member of the National Charter School Leadership Council, founding member of Legacy Protect and Family Urban Schools of Excellence

Share 

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Googleplus Email

Public Charter School Performance Tops New Study on Global Competitiveness

In his New York Times column, Thomas Friedman shared the results of a new study. Rather than just comparing themselves to others in the United States, some schools signed up to see how they stack up relative to the international average. The America Achieves’ “Middle Class or Middle of the Pack?” report goes through this data to better understand exactly how our schools are underperforming. Both Friedman and the report debunk the myth that it’s America’s poverty rate that keeps our schools uncompetitive on a global scale. America Achieves’ report formally shows what numerous other studies have already demonstrated: that the highest-performing schools are not always filled with well-to-do students. Several schools across the country, including two public charter schools, demonstrate that poverty is not to blame for our low rankings on the international test. The report mentions two schools in particular which stand out: North Star Academy in Newark, N.J. and BASIS Tucson North in Ariz. Both schools have been on my radar for years as very high-performing public charter schools, and I’m thrilled to see that not only are they knocking it out of the park here in the U.S. but are also excelling on a global scale. North Star Academy outperforms the average student in all but nine countries in reading—impressive for a school with 80.3 percent of students eligible for free and reduced price lunch. However, BASIS Tucson North took the prize with performance that beat the global competition, outperforming the average school in every country in the world in math, science, and reading. It is with great pleasure that we will welcome Craig Barrett, President and Chairman of BASIS schools, to participate in a keynote panel at the 2013 National Charter Schools Conference. His schools set high expectations for all students—six AP classes is the norm—and the students step up and achieve. Dr. Barrett will share why this matters in terms of making sure that children are not only college and career ready but able to step up and become leaders in future generations. Congratulations to both of these schools! Dr. Barrett           Craig Barrett, President and Chairman of BASIS schools Uncommon school       Image via North Star Academy website

Share 

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Googleplus Email

Making the Most of the National Charter Schools Conference: Five Steps to Networking

Yesterday I told you all about one of our focuses this year, educating tomorrow’s leaders. And today, I’d like to share some tips and tricks I’ve learned from attending a lot of conferences and seeing the National Charter Schools Conference grow over the past few years. With registration rates going up after midnight, I thought it’d be good to tell you a bit about the opportunities we’ve got for you. So, here we go—Jenny’s six steps to networking.

1. Establish Your Networking Goal

NCSCa         You would be amazed at how many people don’t have a goal when they network. You’ve come to a conference to learn something, right? Sometimes that thing can’t be found in the breakout sessions or from the keynotes. But you’re at an event with thousands of other people—surely some of them have been in your shoes! Possible networking goals might be:
  • Meeting someone who also runs the finance committee on their board
  • Learning how other schools schedule professional development days throughout the year
  • Finding a great example of a learning management system put to good use
  • Discovering what that state did to celebrate National Charter Schools Week
Keep your networking goal in mind the whole week, and make sure you’re trying to achieve it. Pro tip: Write one quick fact you learned from a person after getting their card. Especially if they helped you towards your goal!

2. Introduce Yourself

NCSCb       Going up to strangers and introducing yourself brings me the jitters, and I’m sure I’m not the only one! Jumping into a conversation doesn’t need to be stressful—keep a few things in mind:
  • Join conversations of 3 or more people so you know you aren’t interrupting something private
  • Go say “hi” to someone standing by themselves—they might be just as scared as you are!
  • Use your goal to introduce yourself: “Hi, I’m Jenny. Have any of you successfully networked at a conference before? Have any tips?”
  • Pin yourself to the elbow of a strong networker, and use him or her to pull you through the room
You know who are often great and experienced networkers? Our exhibitors! They always know a bunch of people and are super outgoing. Use them to help you navigate a crowd, and you’ll always go home with a pocketful of some great business cards. And while a good drink in hand always helps, be wary of doing the food and drink juggle! Always keep a hand open for shaking hands, and use a table if you’re going to be eating and drinking at the same time.

3. Take advantage of Different Networking Environments

NCSCc       At the National Charter Schools Conference, we provide a lot of different spaces and styles of networking so that you can achieve your goals. Here’s a quick run-down of what we have going this year:
  • Big, Formal Networking: This includes our welcome reception and happy hour with exhibitors. These opportunities are great for you to float around and meet people extremely different from you—learn about what’s going on in their worlds and be open and curious.
  • Mealtime Networking: Breakfast networking sessions, lunch breaks, dine-arounds in DC, people love to get together and share ideas over food. Sharing a table with someone instantly creates a sense of congeniality and relaxes the atmosphere. So don’t be a wallflower at lunch, find the busiest table, sit down, and say “hello!”
  • Breaks: I bet you didn’t know that we make the breaks between sessions a little longer so that you can meet people? Go out into the hallway and see who is loitering. Don’t beeline for the next room, take your time and introduce yourself to a couple of people instead.
  • Spaces: We’re excited to have the Steelcase Collaboration Lounge at this year’s conference, and the exhibit hall is always a place to go to meet up with people. Skip a session and go see who is around in these places. Sit down, strike up a conversation, and see what you learn.

4. The Pass-On

NCSCd       Sometimes you meet someone who can’t help you with your goal, but don’t despair! Find out what his or her goal is and do apass-on. Find someone else who will benefit from meeting that person and make sure to provide an introduction. Even if you’re not interested in dropout recovery, maybe you know someone who is. And who knows? Maybe they’ll return the favor and connect you with exactly who you were looking for.

5. Follow-up

NCSCe         Definitely the hardest and most rarely done part of networking is the follow-up. You’ve gone home to your pile of business cards and now need to sort through them. Don’t just file them in your rolodex, cement those relationships! Pick the top ten most important contacts you made and send them a quick message thanking them for talking with you and saying how you’d love to keep in touch. And then, when you have a question that they might be able to help you with, send them an email! Or maybe you’ve met someone who would get along with a contact—make use of it and send that person along. Your network gets stronger through use, so make sure to exercise that muscle! I hope to see you networking away at this year’s National Charter Schools Conference this summer. If you see me, make sure to introduce yourself and share your goal! Don’t forget that registration rates go up at midnight tonight, so head over to our site to sign up.