According to the Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE), the portfolio strategy is a continuous improvement model for districts to dramatically affect student outcomes at scale. A growing number of urban districts including Denver, New York City, New Orleans, Chicago, Hartford, and Baltimore are pursuing the portfolio strategy. The strategy, built around 7 key components, creates diverse options for families in disadvantaged neighborhoods by opening new high-performing, autonomous schools, and holds schools accountable to common performance standards. View our video on SPS School Options.
What has Spokane Public Schools (SPS) done to create a Portfolio of school options?
As families have continued to request more options at every grade level for their children, SPS personnel have intentionally researched the highest-quality programs in the world and sought to develop methods to implement school choices for our families. SPS personnel have collaborated with the GATES Foundation, various Portfolio districts, high achieving charter schools, and other school districts implementing high-quality school options described below. Additionally, SPS created teams of educators to develop feasibility studies to determine which choice options would best enhance the SPS Portfolio of school options.
What are some of the school choice options being considered by SPS?
The following are school choice options being reviewed or have already been implemented by the SPS teams. These options have been implemented in schools across our nation and our world successfully increasing student academic growth.
AP coursework and exams are developed and administered by College Board.com and include 35 courses and exams in 20 subject areas. AP® or Advanced Placement Program consists of a three year sequence of coursework in a specific subject. It is available to serious students in grades 10-12. The course work culminates in rigorous examinations held in May of the graduating year. By making it through an AP course and scoring successfully on the related AP Exam, you can save on college expenses. Currently more than 90 percent of colleges and universities across the country offer college credit, advanced placement, or both, for qualifying AP Exam scores.
AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a college readiness system for elementary through higher education that is designed to increase school-wide learning and performance. The AVID College Readiness System (ACRS) accelerates student learning, uses research based methods of effective instruction, provides meaningful and motivational professional learning, and acts as a catalyst for systemic reform and change. Although AVID serves all students, the AVID elective focuses on the least served students in the academic middle. The formula is simple - raise expectations of students and, with the AVID support system in place, they will rise to the challenge.
At the secondary grade levels (grades 7-12), AVID is an approved elective course taken during the school day. Students are usually selected to enroll in an AVID class after an application process. For one class period a day, they learn organizational and study skills, work on critical thinking and asking probing questions, get academic help from peers and college tutors, and participate in enrichment and motivational activities that make college seem attainable.
· Blended Learning: (currently offered at On Track Academy and implemented in many SPS classrooms)
The Flex model is one in which online learning is the backbone of student learning, even if it directs students to offline activities at times. Students move on an individually customized, fluid schedule among learning modalities, and the teacher of record is on-site.
The A La Carte model is one in which students take one or more courses entirely online with an online teacher of record and at the same time continue to have brick-and-mortar educational experiences. Students may take the online courses either on the brick-and-mortar campus or off-site.
The Enriched Virtual model is a whole-school experience in which within each course (e.g., math), students divide their time between attending a brick-and-mortar campus and learning remotely using online delivery of content and instruction
· Core Knowledge®: (Balboa and Longfellow elementary schools are implementing it school wide.)
The idea behind Core Knowledge®, grades K-5, is simple and powerful: knowledge builds on knowledge. The more you know, the more you are able to learn. By outlining the precise content that every child should learn in language arts and literature, history and geography, mathematics, science, music, and the visual arts, the Core Knowledge Sequence represents a first‐of‐its kind effort to identify the content and skills that comprise the foundational knowledge every child needs to reach these goals–and to teach them, grade by grade, year‐by‐year, in a coherent, age‐appropriate sequence.
Core Knowledge® language arts (CKLA) has proven successful through this year's pilot at Balboa. Click here to read about one Balboa's student's story posted on the website of CKLA publisher Amplify. Click here to view a video of the Core Knowledge® parent information session hosted by our Balboa Principal Heather Awbery. Other CK resources: our SPS news release and our SPS Core Knowledge® web page.
· Language Immersion: (under review)
As a form of language immersion education, school-based immersion programs are intensive, subject-matter-driven language programs that aim for academic achievement, bilingual/biliterate development and increased cultural proficiency. Use of a second language as a medium of instruction is one of several essential characteristics. Dual language/immersion programs target a range of learners, including language majority, language minority, heritage and indigenous learners. Program models vary according to learner audience and include one-way foreign language immersion, two-way bilingual immersion, as well as heritage and indigenous immersion.
· International Baccalaureate (IB): (under review)
Magnet Schools are free public elementary and secondary public schools of choice that are operated by school districts or a consortium of districts. Magnet schools have a focused theme and aligned curriculum to themes like Science, Technology and Engineering (STEM),Fine and Performing Arts, International Baccalaureate, and International Studies, Micro Society, Career Tech, World Languages (immersion and non-immersion) and many, others. Magnet Schools are typically more “hands on – minds on” and use an approach to learning that is inquiry or performance/project based. They use the state, district, or Common Core standards in all subject areas, however, they are taught within the overall theme of the school.
Most magnet schools do not have entrance criteria, but rather, embody the belief that all students have interests and talents that families and educators believe are better cultivated in a magnets chool and therefore use a computer-based blind lottery system. There are also “Talented & Gifted” magnet schools that may utilize student assessment data and teacher or parent recommendations for admission.
Project-based Learning (PBL): (currently offered at Community School)
- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education: (currently offered at North Central Institute of Science and Technology (IST))Please review the 2013-14 SPS STEM Plan that provides the rationale and philosophy of STEM education within our district. We are working toward a K-12 implementation of STEM education so that all student can experience and/or pathway within computer science, engineering and biomedical STEM education.
How will a SPS school be defined as an OPTION School?
As SPS develops the Portfolio of school options, the following is our working definition of an Option School: A school (building) that adopts a philosophical or curricular approach aligned to district goals with a focus on increasing student achievement. All district students will have equal access. The approach permeates the campus with a distinct culture allowing flexibility for how students attain a high level of academic success. This approach would be a school-wide endeavor (i.e. Magnet school) or in certain cases a school-within-a-school model (i.e. Academy).