January 25, 2013

Flea market demolished to expand the Holyoke Community Charter School, a SABIS-managed charter

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) - Holyoke's Community Charter School has found a way to expand its programs in a big way.

The former flea market building adjoining the charter school on Northampton Street was demolished Saturday.

Charter School principal Dr. Sonia Correa-Pope told 22News, her growing school needs this additional land.

Correa-Pope said, “We're running out of space and it is time for us to expand our classroom needs.”

“In our new addition we'll have a new library and state of the art testing center and five additional classrooms,” said Joseph Dougherty.

The Holyoke Community Charter School opened its doors in 2005. The school reached its current enrollment of 700 students one year later. With the additional space the school will go from K through 8 to K through 12.

SABIS International School's students in Phoenix visit Channel 12 News

Students at SABIS International School, an "A" rated charter school located in South Phoenix, Arizona, recently had the opportunity to visit and tour Channel 12 News Station in downtown Phoenix.  The students were given this opportunity as part of the SABIS Student Life Organization.  During the tour they got a “behind the scenes” look at a typical day in the newsroom including the anchor desks, control room, green room and the sets used for different news segments.  James Quinones, a weatherman for Channel 12, also stopped by to greet the students, sign autographs and answer questions.


January 16, 2013

US Charter School movement reaches new milestone: record 6,000 schools serving 2.3 million students

Public Charter Schools Reach New Milestone: Record 6,000 Schools Are Serving 2.3 Million Students.

“The growth of the public charter sector continues because parents are demanding quality options for their children,” said Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.  Learn more about the growth in public charter schools and student enrollment here.

Twenty years after the first charter school opened in St. Paul, MN, the sector continues to grow. Over 500 new public charter schools opened their doors for the 2012-2013 school year. Compared with the 2011-2012 school year, an estimated additional 275,000 students are attending public charter schools in the 2012-2013 school year.

With the addition of new charter schools and students, there are now approximately 6,000 public charter schools enrolling over 2.3 million students across the country. These increases continue five years of significant growth for public charter schools.

Since 2007-08, the public charter sector has added 1,700 schools – almost a 50 percent increase – and is serving an additional 1 million students – an increase of 80 percent.  For more information about the national charter school landscape, visit the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

January 15, 2013

SABIS students take top team and individual awards at the 73rd Model Congress of 2013

Seventeen students from SABIS® International Charter School in Springfield, Massachusetts, recently competed in the 73rd Annual Model Congress and took home top prizes in both team and individual categories.   The Model Congress is a unique role-playing simulation of the United States Congress that brings high school students together from across New England and New York.

Having competed and been successful in previous Model Congress events, the young team of SABIS International students put in many weeks of preparation by practicing debate, going over parliamentary procedures, and writing and researching legislation. Their hard work and strategy paid off and resulted in an impressive performance at this year’s event held on January 10-12, 2013, at the American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts. 

In fact, SABIS International’s team of 17 students in grades 9-12 impressively took home four of the eleven total awards and more than $100,000 in scholarship money.

“I am extremely impressed each and every year by the Model Congress Team. This is by far the youngest group who has participated in this high stakes competition and such outstanding results make me extremely proud of their hard work and dedication. They came with a mission and showed the other schools in attendance what professionalism, determination and preparation can do,” stated Mr. Dean Berry, SABIS International History Teacher and Model Congress Coach.

Demonstrating their passion for politics and debate prowess, SABIS International students defeated 20 other delegations and were awarded the prestigious Outstanding Delegation Award for the fourth consecutive year. To top off that feat, three SABIS students won individual awards including 1st place and a full scholarship by senior captain Hannah Sullivan, 4th place and a quarter scholarship by sophomore Kate Mauke, and an honorable mention to sophomore Michael Savoie. Additionally, every student in attendance earned a $1000 scholarship from AIC.

Senior Hannah Sullivan, the captain of the Model Congress team, said, “I could not adequately put into words all of the benefits I have gained from participating in Model Congress. It has taught me leadership skills, the ability to effectively communicate my beliefs and political ideals, and has provided me with an individualized experience in the unlimited possibilities our government possesses.”

Kate Mauke, the youngest member ever to win a scholarship, said, “I consider joining my school’s model congress team to be one of the most important decisions I have made, because it has impacted my life in such a positive way and will continue to as my college career commences.”
SABIS 2013 Team Photo

Award for Outstanding Delegation
First Place: Senior Hannah Sullivan (Team Captain)
Fourth Place: Sophomore Kate Mauke
Honorable Mention: Sophomore Michael Savoie

January 11, 2013

SABIS charter, International Academy of Flint, among state's best academic performers, new Report says

FLINT, MI -- At International Academy, news that the school landed on more top ten lists comes as little surprise to the people who work there and send their kids there.

International Academy gets State Recognition The International Academy in Flint continues to receive state recognition for doing well in academics. The school believes that its success is due to their teaching methods including a testing center where the students are tested on a weekly basis. They also have a policy where no student will graduate from the school until they have been accepted by a college.
The school for years has been among the highest-performing public schools in the state. In a recent analysis from Bridge Magazine and Public Sector Consultants, the school landed on three top ten lists. Bridge Magazine and Public Sector Consultants created a ranking system measuring a school’s test scores adjusted for student family income, which is often a predictor of academic achievement. 

According to the data, International Academy was No. 6 in top value-added large city schools, No. 5 in top value-added charter schools and No. 7 in top value-added low-income schools.

The K-12 school landed as the top charter in the county on the Michigan Department of Education's top-to-bottom list last year, which ranks all schools in the state based on student proficiency, school achievement, academic growth and the socioeconomic gap in five subject areas plus high school graduation rates. The school has also been on the state's list of schools "beating the odds," by outperforming schools with similar risk factors and demographic composition."


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In the Bridge Magazine analysis, the school had the largest value-added matrix (VAM) in Genesee County. Bridge used the VAM to determine its 2012 Academic State Champs. Bridge Magazine is celebrating schools that are finding ways to push learning through the socioeconomic ceiling.

International Academy had a VAM score of 111. A school scoring as expected for the income of its families would score 100. The next highest VAM in the county was the Davison School District at 109 and the lowest is Westwood Heights at 86.

"We create much of our own curriculum," said International Academy spokesman Art Wenzlaff. "The stuff that we do create we can change immediately if need be. Just change it."

The K-12 school also does rigorous testing. Students regularly visit an exam room to take computerized assessments. Teachers and administrators use the data to home in on what needs more focus and what's working well.

These weekly tests are a mandatory part of the curriculum in each grade, Wenzlaff said.

Another secret to the high scores at International is it's placement policy. While charters can't turn students away for poor academic performance, they can place them in a different grade level. All new students at International Academy take assessment tests before they are placed in a class. Students are then put in the grade they test into. This means only students testing at a fourth-grade level are taking the fourth-grade state tests.

The school also has three academic quality controllers, which are like principals but only focused on academics. When administrators have discipline to manage along with academics, sometimes schoolwork takes a back seat, said Wenzlaff.

Blake Thorne covers K-12 schools and higher education for The Flint Journal. Contact him at bthorne1@mlive.com or 810-347-8194. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.