SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has awarded $300,000 in federal grants to two Illinois charter schools to help other schools adopt their successful programs for bilingual education and college-ready writing. The Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) in Chicago and Southland College Prep Charter High School in Richton Park each will receive $150,000 to share the best practices they incubated at their schools.
The grant funds come from the $42 million federally funded Charter School Program (CSP), which ISBE administers to expand the number of high-quality and educationally diverse charter schools in Illinois and to evaluate the impact of charter schools on student academic achievement, staff, and families.
ISBE also collaborated with the Illinois Principals Association to produce four videos highlighting the work of Illinois charter schools that are building inclusive cultures of success and becoming anchors in their communities. The videos are available through the Ed Leaders Network and on the ISBE website at https://www.isbe.net/Pages/BestPracticeCorner.aspx.
“Students succeed when leaders and educators cultivate communities of practice to learn from each other," said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “We have to take every opportunity to support schools coaching schools and educators coaching educators in order to expand what works. Congratulations to Academy for Global Citizenship, Southland College Prep Charter High School, and their partner schools. I look forward to following these exciting partnerships."
ISBE released a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Charter Schools Program's Dissemination of Best Practices subgrants on December 30, 2016. A team of external reviewers selected the two outstanding schools out of 16 total applications.
The Academy for Global Citizenship will use its grant funds to share its successful dual language model with another public school in Chicago. AGC's model offers two-way immersion, with native Spanish speakers, native English speakers, and simultaneous bilingual students learning collaboratively so all students learn to read, write, and speak in both languages. Hispanic students at AGC performed better in reading growth than students at 58 percent of schools nationally and better in math growth than students at 57 percent of schools nationally on the Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress assessment. AGC will work closely with teachers at its partner school through study cycles, peer coaching, and classroom observations.
Southland College Prep Charter High School will use its CSP grant funds to share its successful college-ready writing program, called the Writing Your Future Project, with a neighboring elementary district. The program helps students express their thoughts succinctly and is the cornerstone of a student's preparation for college. Southland's college persistence rate for students in its first three graduating classes is at 75 percent, which is 10 percentage points higher than the national average. More than two-thirds of Southland students scored a 21 or above in the English content area of the ACT, and 84 percent of students consistently score 3 points or higher on the Advanced Placement English Composition exam. Southland College Prep Charter High School will work with its partner district to develop and implement a writing curriculum for the third through eighth grades, based on core elements of the Writing Your Future Project.
The CSP grant funds will support both AGC and Southland in monitoring student achievement across the partnerships to further assess the impacts of both programs.
ISBE plans to release the next CSP Dissemination of Best Practices RFP in December 2017. Find more information about the Charter Schools Program grants on the ISBE website at https://www.isbe.net/Pages/Charter-Schools.aspx.