Thirty-three years ago, a landmark report was released that triggered an historic wave of change in America’s public education system. A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform clearly stated that our public schools were failing miserably, and reform was needed on the local, state and federal levels. As a result of this call to action, thousands of local communities and groups of parents stepped forward to advance the charter school movement.
As we conclude National Charter School Week, it is appropriate for us to recognize the role our charter school partners have played in what has been a remarkable transformation in American public education.
Today, communities throughout the country benefit from the competition of nearly 7,000 charter schools. Dozens of organizations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, have emerged to support charter schools and their boards to offer parents distinctive school choices they could not have imagined even a decade ago.
More importantly, the vast majority of students served by charter schools are economically disadvantaged and racial or ethnic minorities. The best evidence indicates that these developments have been a very good thing. Charter students appear to be learning more than they would have had they stayed in their traditional public schools. And, traditional public schools faced with competition have improved as well.
Clearly, there is no denying that public education is now driven by a different dynamic than it was a generation ago—and families that once felt disenfranchised are empowered as never before.
We are proud of the role EdisonLearning has played in bringing about this transformation. In addition to education and administrative services we have provided to our charter school partners, we also raised hundreds of millions of dollars of private capital that enabled dozens of charter schools nationwide to build or acquire facilities, books, computers, and get off the ground.
Since 1995, when EdisonLearning opened its first independent charter school, our company has gone on to serve more charter school students than any other for-profit of not-for-profit organization. However, we could not, and did not do it alone. Our dedicated partners in every single charter school we have been involved in from the beginning have helped bring about the positive reform to public education A Nation at Risk called for in 1983.
As public education continues to adjust to economic and competitive realities, our organization remains steadfast in our support of the charter school movement in this country, and is privileged to work together with our charter partners for student success.
Independent Study: Partnership Between England’s School Leaders’ Union and EdisonLearning is Helping to Improve UK Schools.
Recently released independent research shows that the Aspire Project, a school improvement program developed by the NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers – a trade union and professional association representing more than 28,500 members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland), in partnership with the international education services provider -EdisonLearning, has proven to be, “an effective and sustainable way of helping schools to improve standards.”
The research conducted by the University of Derby’s College of Education shows that:
- Aspire pilot schools have made twice the improvement of schools nationally for both progress and attainment with exceptional gains in Mathematics at level 5 as compared to national averages.
- Half of the schools have demonstrated a transformational improvement of 10 per cent or more in the percentage of pupils attaining Level 4 or above in Reading, Writing and Mathematics combined.
- 63 per cent of pilot schools have been inspected by Ofsted (the United Kingdom’s Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) and rated as good over the course of the NAHT Aspire programme with more forecast by the end of the third year.
- Both case studies and survey respondents (90 per cent) were overwhelmingly positive about their experiences and the impact on the whole school.
Commenting on the report, Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, says: “we created Aspire to offer a credible, school to school system to help boost standards. The government is keen to talk about the structures in education, evidenced by its fixation with schools becoming academies, but is less keen to talk about school improvement as well.
“This independent report shows that NAHT Aspire is a credible pathway for school improvement. Aspire is value for money, it’s an example of the profession taking responsibility for school standards, and above all it works.
“NAHT believes Aspire should be recognised as a sustainable, successful and realistic response to the question of raising standards. The ambition now is to roll out the programme to a wider audience, including primaries, secondaries and special schools. It’s not just about helping a particular type of school, but will be about school improvement across the board, including helping good schools to become outstanding.”
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says: “The Aspire project demonstrates the potential of what can be achieved when schools work together to share expertise and drive up standards.
"As we move towards a more school-led system then collaboration will soon be commonplace across the country, ensuring every child has access to the excellent education they deserve."
Tim Nash at EdisonLearning, NAHT’s partner in the Aspire programme, says: “It has been a privilege to work with the schools involved in the pilot, and we thank them for the energy, enthusiasm and commitment they have shown over the past three years. It is impossible to overstate the vital part they have played in helping Aspire develop into the ‘blueprint for the future of school improvement’.
“With more than 100 schools and 13 networks now engaged in the programme, involving schools of every character and context, Aspire is now well on its way to becoming established as a national school improvement movement, reflecting the power of research and evidence to guide in-school practice, building collaboration and trust between schools, and investing in the development of the current and prospective leaders that are so critical to the future health of our education system.”
Commenting on the report, lead researcher Dr Siobhan Neary from the University of Derby’s College of Education says: “Our analysis shows that NAHT’s Aspire programme has successfully supported school improvement. Many schools reported that Aspire is a transformative programme, changing the way they see themselves. This has improved progress, attainment and pupil behavior, whilst increasing the confidence levels of many staff.”
Additional information can be found at: http://nahtaspire.co.uk/accolades-and-national-endorsement-for-naht-aspire/.
Children ranging in age from 1 to 15 came to work yesterday with their parents as part of EdisonLearning’s annual “Take Your Child to Work Day.”
In the Pittsburgh office: Carol Smialek was joined by Izabella; Mark MacWhinney by Julia; Ken Barth was joined by Juliette; and Michael Trosan was joined by Julia and Gianna.
In Jersey City: Archie Ford was joined by Kamari and Aurielle; Jacqueline Galvan was joined by Gerald and Elijah; Tanya Hooks by Taylor; and Nicole LaFortune by Sean. And in the Knoxville office, Paula Asbury was joined by EJ.
In addition to spending a special day at their parents’ workplace, the children participated in various project activities – including a unique eCourse program, and had a Skype video conversation with Thom Jackson during the lunch break.
The Indiana State Board of Education on Friday, April 15, approved a one-year contract extension with EdisonLearning, setting the stage for a new, long-term plan to restore the academic health of Roosevelt College and Career Academy.
By a unanimous 11-0 vote, the Board voted to extend the contract with EdisonLearning for another year to allow the education company to work on a long-term agreement with the Gary Community School Corporation (GCSC). The contract is viewed as a transitional move to help the two organizations create a solid plan to help improve the school’s academic performance.
While the move quelled concerns about the future of Gary’s most storied Black institution, the decision also signaled a fresh beginning between EdisonLearning and the GCSC, which will have a bigger role in shaping the future of the 95-year-old school.
For the past five years, Roosevelt has been under state control after it received six consecutive F grades on the Indiana accountability report. While under state control, Indiana partnered with EdisonLearning. Under EdisonLearning’s leadership, Roosevelt’s academic performances improved slightly, but the school continued to get failing grades by the state. With
EdisonLearning’s contract set to expire in June, parents and students at Roosevelt voiced concern about the school’s future at a public hearing on March 23.
At that hearing, some Roosevelt students and alumni voiced their support for EdisonLearning, saying they liked some of the organization’s teaching techniques. Other speakers wanted the state to return Roosevelt back to the GCSC.
Eddie Melton, who represents Northwest Indiana on the state board, said Roosevelt has made improvements under EdisonLearning. Although Roosevelt still received an F grade while the company operated the school, Melton said math ISTEP Plus scores increased 27 percent and English/Language arts scores are up 11 percent.
State officials believe Roosevelt needs more time to improve academically with the help of the GCSC. The one-year contract will allow EdisonLearning to manage Roosevelt during this transition. EdisonLearning and the GCSC will create a transformation zone, which will help turnaround low-performing elementary schools, which would become feeder schools to Roosevelt.
Once they have reached a long-term agreement, the two organizations will bring their formal plan and agreement before the Board for a final decision during the 2016-17 school year, according to Marc Lotter, spokesman for the Indiana State Board of Education.
Lotter said Roosevelt would still remain under state supervision. He said part of the long-term plan for Roosevelt would include benchmarks and metrics that can be used to measure continued improvement.
GCSC’s new role in Roosevelt’s future is a vindication for the school district, which did not have say in the school’s curriculum or operations when the state took control of the school in 2011. GCSC recently turned around Gary West Side Leadership Academy, a school that state wanted to closed after five consecutive years of failing grades. In the most recent state report, the school improved to a C grade.
While under state control, EdisonLearning clashed with the GCSC on some issues. But after the board’s decision on Friday, leaders from both schools, GCSC Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt and EdisonLearning CEO Thom Jackson issued a joint statement:
“It is our firm desire to address all aspects of school improvement; building leadership capacity; enhance the learning environment, engage families and students; improve teaching; and promote intelligent use of data to best address the personalized needs of all students.”
Melton expressed his support for the partnership.
“Roosevelt is a historic institution with a long tradition of producing outstanding students and distinguished alumni,” he said. “This contract extension allows EdisonLearning and Gary schools to partner with community stakeholders to provide the best possible outcome for Roosevelt students.”
Roosevelt was one of seven turnaround academies whose futures were decided by the state officials at their monthly business meeting in Indianapolis.