How LA charters will spend Gates’ $60 million

With $60 million from the Gates Foundation, a group of charter schools will do the sort of innovations that the state should proposed in a Race to the Top application: a teacher residency program, performance-based pay and assessments to measure individual students’ growth.

  • A one-year residency program for aspiring teachers;
  • A data warehouse of assessments to measure individual students’ growth;
  • A performance-based pay system that teacher help design.

A consortium of five charter school organizations operating in Los Angeles will make these innovations with a seven-year, $60 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,plus $16 million in matching money that they must raise.

They are also precisely the sorts of things that the state should be considering in its application for the Race to the Top competition. Improving teacher performance, including using data as a factor to set teachers’ pay, is a  primary focus of the $4.35 billion federal program. Continue reading “How LA charters will spend Gates’ $60 million”

High-achieving charter awarded prize for efficiency

San Jose-based Rocketship Education has won a $50,000 national award for its “hybrid model” of a charter school that combines online education and traditional classroom instruction. Rocketship channels the savings from hiring fewer certified teachers into internships for new principals, after-school tutorials, the addition of an academic dean for each school and payments for new school construction.

Educated Guess ponders a 5th grade online math quiz at Rocketship computer lab.
Educated Guess ponders a 5th grade online math quiz at Rocketship computer lab.

A small, ambitious charter school operation in San Jose raised eyebrows this fall for its academic achievement: a 926 API score for its first charter school, making it the highest ranking low-income elementary school in Santa Clara County.

Now it’s gaining attention for financial efficiency. Rocketship Education will receive the $50,000 Innovation Award from the Charter School Growth Fund, a national funder of charter schools. Rocketship won the national competition for its “hybrid” school that combines online education and classroom instruction, at a substantial cost savings. Rocketship shifts the dollars — $500,000 per school each year – into improving instruction, increasing teacher pay and paying for a new school that it builds at each  location. The latter is  remarkable, considering that charters that choose to build their own schools – very few do — must either seek private gifts or, as Rocketship has done, find the money within the state’s standard per student tuition payment, which is the same for charters and district schools.

Continue reading “High-achieving charter awarded prize for efficiency”