DENVER- March 8, 2017- Charter public schools authorized by the Colorado Charter School Institute (CSI) earned top honors at the Colorado Department of Education’s Awards Ceremony last week. As an authorizer, CSI prides itself on upholding the charter bargain—that is, giving schools increased autonomy in exchange for increased accountability. These award-winning schools demonstrate what can happen when they are given freedom in determining their inputs (curriculum, instructional strategies, and staffing model, for example) and held accountable by their charter authorizer for their outputs (academic, financial, and organizational performance).
Executive Director of CSI, Terry Croy Lewis, was in attendance for the March 1st ceremony and shared, “Despite their delivery of very different educational models and programming, each of these schools has demonstrated success in improving student outcomes, and we are extremely proud of them for their achievements and honored to accept these awards on their behalf.”
Below are stories of these award-winning schools:
VICTORY PREPARATORY ACADEMY – Commerce City, Colorado
Victory Preparatory Academy serves middle and high school students in Commerce City and is an expansion of a successful elementary program, Community Leadership Academy. The now K-12 schools serve over 900 students, 86 percent who qualify for free or reduced lunch, 93% who identify as Hispanic or Latino, and over 55% who are English Language learners—percentages higher than those of the geographic district. Victory Preparatory Academy offers a no-excuses environment, delivering a liberal arts education with an emphasis on STEM as well as Business and Entrepreneurship where students attain the skills they need to be successful learners.
Both the middle and high school levels of Victory Preparatory Academy earned a Center of Excellence Award for having high rates of student longitudinal growth while serving a large at-risk population. The middle school received the ELPA Excellence Award for achieving the highest English language and academic growth among English learners and the highest academic achievement for English learners who transition out of the English language proficiency program. Notably, Victory Preparatory Academy was 1 of 10 schools in the state to receive this award. Additionally, both the middle and high school levels of Victory Preparatory Academy received the John Irwin Award for demonstrating excellent academic achievement based on three-years of school performance on the state performance framework.
THOMAS MACLAREN SCHOOL – Colorado Springs, Colorado
Thomas MacLaren School is a classically based Colorado Springs school serving over 450 students in grades 6-12. Features that make this school unique include its single-gender classrooms, focus on primary source texts as opposed to textbooks, and a performance-based program that includes participation in the school-wide orchestra program.
Thomas MacLaren School received the High School Academic Growth Award for demonstrating the highest levels of academic growth in reading, writing and math of all 59 schools in the 1A category of the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA). The school also received the John Irwin Award for its achievement and growth performance over the past three years on the SPF. In addition to the honors received this past week, Thomas MacLaren School earned the highest ACT composite average ever in the state this past school year! In learning that Thomas MacLaren School would receive these awards, school leader Mary Faith Hall shared, “We are honored that the state of Colorado has recognized our students and teachers for their hard work and tremendous growth. These high test scores have been validating and a pleasure to see.”
Colorado Early Colleges
The Colorado Early College network – created by former Senator Keith King – have also earned top honors by doing things differently. The Colorado Early Colleges provide students in 9th-12th grades the opportunity to start working on college-level courses as soon as they are college ready, allowing students to earn a combination of high school and college credits as they pursue a high school diploma and an Associate degree or higher. Starting with one school in Colorado Springs, the network has now grown to four schools across the state, including Colorado Early Colleges – Aurora, which is set to open this fall.
COLORADO EARLY COLLEGES - PARKER
Colorado Early Colleges-Parker is a replication of the already successful Colorado Springs and Fort Collins network locations. Since its opening in 2014, the school has seen steady increases in enrollment and is now serving over 480 students. Colorado Early Colleges – Parker received the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award for demonstration of exceptional student growth. On the SPF, Colorado Early Colleges – Parker received a “Meet” or "Exceeds" rating for longitudinal academic growth and academic growth gaps. The school also received the John Irwin Award for its excellent academic achievement based on three-years of school performance on the SPF. Head of School Alex Tuel shared his happiness in receiving these awards: "I am so proud of our students and staff. This is a great indicator of the hard work we do at our school -- the whole CECP family should take pride in their efforts and in the outstanding work that has been accomplished. We will continue to strive for academic excellence and be unwavering in our standards. It is a great day to be a Lion!"
COLORADO SPRINGS EARLY COLLEGES
Colorado Springs Early Colleges is the first school in the Colorado Early Colleges network, created in 2008 and now serving nearly 650 students. Colorado Springs Early Colleges received the John Irwin Award for demonstration of excellent academic achievement based on three-years of school performance on the SPF.
For a complete listing of schools and districts receiving awards at the March 1, 2017 award ceremony hosted by the Colorado Department of Education, click here. Click the following for a complete listing of CSI charter public schools.