Delaware Welcomes Two New Charter Schools
After a rather eventful year for charter schools, Delaware can look forward to welcoming two new additions in 2013. Last week, the state board of education approved two new charter school applications: Academia Antonia Alonso and Early College High School at Delaware State University. Another charter school, First State Montessori Academy, was not decided upon and may come up for another vote next month.
Academia Antonia Alonso will be a dual-language K-5 school based on the Expeditionary Learning model, which uses longer-term project-based learning and emphasizes problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The network encompasses 165 schools in 30 states and DC serving over 45,000 students, on average outperforming district schools by as much as 16.5% on standardized tests. The school will initially serve 300 students in 2013, with plans to expand to full capacity of 600 by 2017.
Early College High School at Delaware State University will be a high school located on the Delaware State University campus. The model is based off of KnowledgeWork’s “Fast Track” schools, which targets first generation college-goers and aims to demystify the process by immersing students in a real college environment. Students can graduate with enough credit for an associate’s degree, and leave well-versed in financial literacy and other important aspects of college life. Existing schools in this network have an average graduation rate of 91% and much higher college-enrollment rates than the rest of the nation. The school will open with 125 students in 2013, planning to expand fully by 2016 with 425 students.
These charter schools will face some pretty tough challenges moving forward. Not only do they have to deal with the existing funding gap between charters and traditional schools, but recent shifts in federal funding have also severely limited the startup funds charter schools have depended on in years past.
At the same time, most people familiar with the process agree that this year’s application review process was more rigorous than years past, indicating that the resultant applications are stronger, which hopefully will mean stronger schools.
In any case, the school leaders and board members involved in these charter schools should be commended and congratulated–not only for earning their approvals, but also for engaging in this difficult and important work . I’ve personally had a chance to witness both of the models in action, and I am excited for the kids, parents, and communities these schools will benefit. I already can’t wait for opening day in 2013!
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