New report highlights academic programs improving student achievement in three of Georgia’s state charter schools
ATLANTA (October 30, 2012)— Georgia’s state public charter schools are using their flexibility to implement innovative programs to raise student achievement, according to a new report released by the Center for an Educated Georgia. Titled “Freedom to Innovate, Freedom to Educate,” the report highlights academic programs that are improving student achievement at three state charter schools and explains innovative approaches that could be adopted by traditional public schools.
“The flexibility received by state charter schools allows for the development of innovative academic programs, but other schools can apply many of these effective concepts,” says Dr. Danielle LeSure, Education Policy and Research Manager at the Center for an Educated Georgia and author of the report. “It is our hope that this report helps to open a door to further share innovations making a difference for students in all school types.”
The high-performing charter schools in this report were originally approved by the Georgia Charter Schools Commission that was struck down by the Georgia Supreme Court last year. Georgians will soon decide whether to reinstate the commission and its approval of more quality charter schools when they vote on a constitutional amendment on November 6th.
The report explains three academic innovations: learning expeditions, intensive learning program, and double math blocks. Pataula Charter Academy is using learning expeditions to encourage critical thinking and character development. Students at the southwest Georgia charter school design their own intensive research projects that they complete over six to twelve weeks. The school credits the learning expeditions for its significant improvement in social studies scores.
Atlanta Heights Charter School uses a student-centered approach to develop small group learning sessions. Called an intensive learning program, students meet in groups of three to six students with a subject area specialist to go over concepts challenging to each student. The added small group instructional time tied to class lessons has led to improvement in the school’s reading and math performance.
In Gwinnett County, students at Ivy Preparatory Academy have two math periods with different teachers. The first class focuses on math operations while the second analysis class allows the students to apply math concepts and develop critical thinking skills. The school’s high math performance reflects the success of using double-blocks of math.
The education innovations were identified through school site visits and interviews with principals, board members, parents, and teachers at over 10 state charter schools across Georgia. Each interviewee was asked to identify a program or practice in their school that can be shared to enhance teaching and learning in traditional public schools, particularly those serving at-risk student populations.
To view the full report, visit http://www.educatedgeorgia.org/pdf/ceg_innovate_report.pdf.
The author of this report, Dr. Danielle LeSure, is available for comment. Please contact us if you’d like to arrange an interview.
The Center for an Educated Georgia is a research, education, and grassroots organization working to ensure that all Georgia students receive a quality education. Visit www.educatedgeorgia.org for more information.