Columbus Preparatory Academy Case Study
Many a Buckeye would characterize Columbus Preparatory Academy (CPA), a K-8 Ohio public charter school, as an extraordinary success. The Ohio Department of Education is among this proud group given it has recognized CPA as the highest ranking school in the state and has awarded it its top rating, “Excellent with Distinction,” four years running (2011-2014). Combine this with the state giving the school Straight A’s in every performance category for the past two years and CPA presents the image of scholastic success, one where student performance is superior, consistent and measurable.
But by no means is such acclaim limited to Ohio. On September 30, 2014, the U.S. Department of Education officially honored CPA as a 2014 National Blue Ribbon School. The public charter school managed by Mosaica Education was specifically recognized in the category of ‘Exemplary High Performing Schools’ with the following statement on the National Blue Ribbon School website (http://nationalblueribbonschools.ed.gov/awardwinners/): “The students at Columbus Preparatory Academy are living proof that through rigorous coursework, high expectations, and immersion in a positive learning environment with caring, committed professionals, all students can achieve at high levels.”
Still, the CPA story is much more than rigorous coursework and an admirable increase in test scores could ever capture. For test results are only one indicator of the overall performance of an educational institution and the identity-seeking students that comb its bustling hallways. Test results alone cannot convey a feeling or an emotion; nor can they reflect a human connection or tell a story. And to better understand CPA’s current success, one has to take into account what the school once was.
A Troubled Time
Not long ago, the word “success” was seldom, if ever, mentioned in the same sentence with Columbus Preparatory Academy. For the 2005-06 academic year, the struggling school was given “Academic Emergency” status by the Ohio Department of Education, the lowest ranking in the state. CPA’s former administration was unable to effectively serve the educational needs of a Columbus-area population with three-fourths of its students economically disadvantaged and eligible for free or reduced lunch. The school and its staff were further overwhelmed by random violence and disorder.
“It was terrible,” recalls CPA Head of School, Chad Carr. “Behavior was out of control and, though there were great teachers, they had no support and no one understood curriculum or the state test.”
An Educated Solution
Enter Mr. Carr and Mosaica. In 2007, the motivated Mr. Carr jumped in with both feet using his proven leadership skills and the Mosaica model as his primary tools for change. Along with reorienting CPA’s existing teachers to a “No Excuses” attitude and Mosaica’s 8 Pillars approach (http://mosaicaeducation.com/paragon/our-pillars/), Mr. Carr implemented policies that prioritized professional development, school discipline and safety, immersive learning, ongoing goal setting and monitoring, and more effective staff placement. Additionally, the Mosaica Education Paragon™ curriculum breathed new vitality into the educational process, engaging students through the integration of Humanities with math, science, technology, and the arts. Mr. Carr also established an emotional and uplifting tone for the school, one best described by his maxim of choice, “Its winning time.”
And it was. CPA’s students, staffers, parents and supporters from the Columbus community rallied around Carr, the school and the Mosaica model. CPA’s remarkable turnaround from “Academic Emergency” status to “Excellent with Distinction” happened in less than five years, and the school is now the highest-performing school in Ohio. Accordingly, in 2009, Mr. Carr was named Principal of the Year by Mosaica Education and, in 2012, was selected School Leader of the Year by the Ohio Alliance of Public Charter Schools. In 2013, after being named School of the Year by Mosaica for the third year in a row, CPA was also honored as School of the Year by the Ohio Alliance of Public Charter Schools, and became the only school named to the Mosaica Hall of Fame.
And now ─given the 2014 National Blue Ribbon honors─ the nation has taken notice. No surprise to Mr. Carr, who sums up the extraordinary transformation process that turned a struggling, poor performing institution into a high achieving and nationally celebrated school.
“It was about the teachers, supporting them and teaching them about curriculum and achievement,” says the CPA leader, humbly deflecting attention from his own obvious impact on the school. Clarifying that failure was never an option, Mr. Carr goes on to contend the transformation was also a matter of ditching the school’s former losing attitude and “speaking about winning while focusing the students on the goal of being the best school in the US.”
Thanks to Mr. Carr, his committed team, his students, and the Mosaica model, CPA just might be.
Banning Lewis Ranch Academy Case Study
Approach the heart of the mountain-rimmed Banning Lewis Ranch development on the east side of Colorado Springs, and you’ll likely be impressed by the 60,000 square foot, state-of-the-art school with ranch-style architecture honoring the renowned heritage of this former cattle-ranching community. With the snow-capped Pikes Peak serving as its majestic backdrop, this K-8 public facility presents a stunning visual blend of modern technology, natural beauty and communal legacy.
Fortunately, when it comes to educating Colorado’s youth, the scenic Banning Lewis Ranch Academy (BLRA) is more than just another pretty facade. The Colorado Department of Education Data Center recently reported that 78% of BLRA students were “proficient and advanced” in math on the 2014 Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) exam, compared to 63% proficient and advanced state-wide, and 64% proficient and advanced district-wide. Similar results were reported in the areas of reading and writing. BLRA was also recently recognized by its education management organization with the 2014 Mosaica Award, given to one school in the Mosaica Education 100+ schools network demonstrating outstanding implementation of its educational model. Such achievements are a testament to the ongoing progress of a school that, two years ago, received the 2012 Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award.
“How proud I am of being part of a team of leaders and schools that are doing such amazing things with kids and student achievement,” said Andy Franko, Head of School at Banning Lewis, upon receipt of the Mosaica award on behalf of his school. The tuition-free, public charter school offers students a world-class, college prep education through a blend of core curriculum and specialized programs, including Mosaica’s proprietary Paragon Curriculum. The school is dedicated to providing a safe, positive environment that fosters intellectual curiosity and a thirst for discovery where students and staff succeed through exceptional programs.
At BLRA, continued Head of School Franko, “our focus is on making change within our organization, in our state of Colorado, in our nation and now throughout the world.”
For Mosaica cofounder and renowned education expert, Dr. Dawn Eidelman, this positive change lies in both the school’s leadership and its effective employment of the Mosaica Model, a proven hallmark of Mosaica schools. “A great school always has an outstanding leader and Andy Franko is truly an outstanding leader,” says Dr. Eidelman, noting the integrity of Head of School Franko and the fact that both of his children are enrolled at BLRA. “The essential question for any walk-through of a Mosaica Model school is this: Would I choose this school – and this classroom – for my own child?”
“The Mosaica Model looks to the past to prepare students for the future,” continues Dr. Eidelman, describing it as “a classical education, rich in the history of technology, engineering, architecture, math, science and the humanities that prepares students to be critical thinkers and the architects of tomorrow.”
At the core of this model are its 8 pillars: Student Achievement, Extended Learning Time, Secure Environment, Professional Development, Community Support, Integrated Technology, Parent Involvement and the Paragon Curriculum. These pillars integrate and combine with an interdisciplinary approach that empowers students to see all subjects as part of their lives, rather than as separate, often daunting disciplines.
Dr. Eidelman further connects the model with the school’s consistent success. “Banning Lewis Ranch Academy is a stand-out Mosaica school because of its continued excellence in all eight of these areas, and its commitment to ongoing improvement.”
Given this steady improvement, committed leadership, and its adherence to a proven and successful educational model, it’s easy to see why for Banning Lewis Ranch Academy—even in the shadow of Pikes Peak—climbing any mountain is just a matter of time.
Frazier Preparatory Academy Case Study
Frazier Preparatory Academy is a Pre-K – 6 contract school in the North Lawndale area of Chicago. The academy is part of Chicago Public School System’s Renaissance 2010 – a school reform effort championed by Mayor Richard Daley and former school Superintendent Arne Duncan. Enrolled to full capacity at 467 students, the academy is working with CPS to expand its programs, and will become a Pre-K – 8 school by 2010.
The curriculum at the academy combines effective teaching strategies with scientifically proven academic programs, including Mosaica’s acclaimed Paragon® curriculum. The end result is an environment that inspires life-long learning and affords all students the opportunity to experience cultural richness through the study of the performing and visual arts, as well as a proficiency in the tools they will need to succeed in their career paths.
Character education is integral to the school’s educational program. By embracing the Nguzo Saba (Seven Principles in Swahili), students earn awards for reflecting the values for each principle: Nia (purpose), Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith).
Chief Academic Officer Lakita Little is an exceptional leader who was selected from an impressive pool of principals nationwide to receive Mosaica’s Rising Star award for exemplary leadership in 2008. Raising student achievement is a priority, and in the opening 2007-2008 school year, standardized test scores showed rapid gains. Spring ITBS scores went from 25% up to 39%, math from 12% up to 40%, and the composite score was raised from 23% up to 38% from fall baseline scores.
Parents actively support the academy with high levels of participation in volunteer work and fundraising. Regularly scheduled Paragon Night performances fill the school’s gym to standing room only as the students give back to the community by presenting what they have learned over the previous five weeks of instruction. Parent satisfaction is high – parent surveys indicate a 98% overall satisfaction rating.
Students have the opportunity to participate in a number of extracurricular activities such as choir and step team. The school’s double dutch team recently competed to take second place city-wide, the boys’ football team made it to the regional playoffs, and the basketball season is underway. We invite you to stop by and experience the energy and excitement in one of Chicago’s premier educational settings.