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Public Charter Schools Leading the Way in Innovation

New report provides overview of next generation learning models, makes policy recommendations to better serve students.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new report released today by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools looks at next generation learning models in schools – those using time, talent, and technology in innovative ways. Specifically, the report evaluates current practices at four innovative schools and makes recommendations for policymakers to better support this type of personalized learning to help increase student achievement. 

Breakthroughs in Time, Talent, and Technology: Next Generation Learning Models in Public Charter Schools, authored by Shonaka Ellison and Gillian Locke of Public Impact, explains three core aspects of next generation learning: 

  • Time, structuring the day around a pace more suited to the students they serve rather than a strict bell schedule; 
  • Talent, hiring and cultivating teachers around their particular expertise, exploring innovative tutoring models, and utilizing master teachers; and
  • Technology, incorporating digital self-paced learning with multiple ways for students to receive and understand new content. 

“These next generation learning models give us a window into how modern schools can provide a high-quality education for students,” said National Alliance President and CEO Nina Rees. “Public charter schools are paving the way on innovative models that will better prepare our students for college and life. We urge policymakers across the country to heed our recommendations to expand these models into more schools.”

As the report states, “The term ‘next generation’ connotes for many the idea of “technology enabled,” or using technology to enhance a certain product or process. But next-generation models move beyond technological innovation. These models’ core goal is to truly personalize learning so that each student can reach his or her potential. To do this, next generation models must use time and talent—in addition to technology—in ways that differ significantly from the traditional school model.”

In addition to providing an overview of next generation models and recommendations for policymakers, the report also looks at four different charter schools that are successfully implementing next-generation models: 

Venture Academy. The 200 students attending Venture Academy in Minneapolis, MN are divided into three communities that move between stations with different learning experiences – including interdisciplinary project-based learning, digital content, independent work, and tutorials (all in the course of one day). Teachers also participate in peer observations and the use of technology at the school is driven by its ability to support student learning. 

Match Next. Students at Boston’s Match Next program are staffed primarily by full-time tutors overseen by master teachers. This model has allowed tutors to spend more time in smaller groups and working one-on-one with students. The school also has a dedicated staff member that tests and evaluates all software before it is introduced in the classroom. 

Ingenuity Prep. The model at Ingenuity Prep in Washington, D.C. gives students 33 percent more learning time than students who attend schools with a traditional calendar. The school has also developed an innovative “career ladder” for teachers at the master, lead, associate, and resident levels to learn from one another and encourage professional development.  

Summit Public Schools. Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Summit Public Schools focuses its work on identifying and filling gaps in student learning so that every student graduates ready to tackle college. Teachers also serve in multiple roles, including that of mentor, to build community and help meet individual student needs.  

“These schools remind us that the freedom given to charter schools helps encourage the creation of innovative tools necessary to give today’s students a world-class education,” continued Rees. “Every student learns differently and the next generation learning models these schools have implemented are showing us how it is possible to customize and personalize learning to meet their students’ needs.” 

To learn more about each of the schools featured, see an overview of next generation models, and read the report’s recommendations for policymakers, click here.

About Public Charter Schools

Public charter schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative while being held accountable for advancing student achievement. Since 2010, all but one independent research study has found that students in charter schools do better in school than their traditional school peers. For example, one study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that charter schools do a better job teaching low income students, minority students, and students who are still learning English than traditional schools. Separate studies by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Mathematica Policy Research have found that charter school students are more likely to graduate from high school, go on to college, stay in college and have higher earnings in early adulthood.

About the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement. Our mission is to lead public education to unprecedented levels of academic achievement by fostering a strong charter sector. For more information, please visit our website at www.publiccharters.org. 

About Public Impact

Public Impact’s mission is to dramatically improve learning outcomes for all children in the United States, with a special focus on students who are not served well. We are a team of professionals from many backgrounds, including former teachers. We are researchers, thought leaders, tool builders, and on-the-ground consultants who work with leading education reformers. For more on Public Impact, please visit www.publicimpact.com


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