In my column on potentially helpful ideas for ideal schools, I promised to post more details here. These are suggestions I did not have space for in the paper:
Higher Achievement in Washington D.C., CincyAfterSchool in Cincinnati and AfterZone in Providence, R.I. (submitted by Jodi Grant of the Afterschool Alliance). These after-school programs emphasize linkage to the schools they serve, use of community partners and resources, prepared staff and hands-on learning projects. Students who complete the Higher Achievement program increase their grade point average at least one point. Half of the CincyAfterSchool students increased their reading scores in 2008, and about the same number increased their math scores. AfterZone participation led to increased achievement and fewer school absences.
Schools with parent involvement (submitted by PITA Mom). In her e-mail, this blog participant said the two requirements for a good school are parent involvement and schools being held 100 percent accountable “for providing a safe and supportive learning environment.” She said “parents can make an impact by doing something as easy as sitting at the kitchen table with their children as they complete their homework.”
Schools as centers for social services (submitted by Stefanie Weldon). Weldon suggested making “the school the center for providing all manner of social services available to families—housing, food stamps, counseling, job assistance—all the services already provided to them but in disjointed and stove-piped bureaucracies. Make the school the positive center for these services so you can get the parents into the buildings for positive reasons, not just negative ones.”
Educating for Human Greatness (submitted by Anthony Dallmann-Jones and Lynn Stoddard). They recommend that schools adopt several principles. These include “nurturing human differences” to build “student, teacher and parent self-worth,” teaching that “our country is strong because of the great variety of its people,” and recognizing that “students learn more, in a deeper way, when searching for answers to their own questions.”
AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter Schools in Washington D.C. (submitted by Jack McCarthy). The seven school sites for 3- and 4-year-olds have a recipe for success that includes focus on teacher effectiveness, evidence-based curriculum, quality classrooms and commitment to using data. “AppleTree alumni score more than 70 percent higher on oral reading than the average DC student,” McCarthy said.
Appropriate learning environments for every student (submitted by Valerie Natale). She recommends appropriate pacing for each child. “Reading groups are one way to do this,” Natale said. “So is teaching the same subjects at the same time. If math always meets during third period, kids can attend the class that’s best for them. . . . Moving around is perfectly natural and no one is stigmatized.”