The Ida B. Wells Community Academy
1180 Slosson Street, Akron, Ohio 44320-2730
The Academy's Fifth-Year Review Self Evaluation
Prepared August 15, 2003, by
Dr. Edward W. Crosby, PhD, Founder and Member, Board of Governors
Ms. Angela M. Anderson, MBA, Chief Administrative Officer
Mrs. Michele C. Rumrill, MEd, Principal
Questions 1 and 2: Clearly define your most significant academic strengths and areas of improvement, including proficiency test and non-proficiency academic assessment results, over the last four years. Describe the documentation used to measure, analyze and respond to information about student academic progress
One of the most significant strengths of the Ida B. Wells Community Academy (hereinafter "The Academy') is its decision to limit its average class size to 15 students per teacher and to extend its academic year to 210 class days. It was our belief that given the nature of the students we would be enrolling: low and middle income youngsters, who are primarily African American and have previously had bad learning experiences in Akron, Ohio's public elementary schools (see the attached (1 )Akron City School District's 2000 Results by Gender and Ethnic Group and (2) Rates of Suspension and Expulsion Tables). These results coupled with the high suspension/expulsion rates for African American students necessitated this and other policies even though they increased our staffing, transportation, and other costs. Moreover, taking into consideration that the United States has become a very complex post-industrial, technological society, it behooved the Academy's leadership also to effect an educational process that would work toward answering these two problems. Over the past four years, in spite of unanticipated obstacles, the Academy has met the educational goals addressed in its mission statement, remained true to its contractual obligations, and accomplished in good faith the educational objectives itemized in its chartering contract in part, if not entirely.
We have very successfully met the challenge of educating a student body comprised of only low and middle income African American young people, many of whom are beset by a constellation of educational obstructions: low expectations, special needs, particularly behavioral needs, a paucity of appropriate role models, a living environment that is not conducive to high educational aspirations. In essence we were dealing with an at risk population even though we did not describe it as such. This problem has been highlighted in each of our three Annual Reports for 1999-2000, 2000-2001, 2001-2002. See the "Conceptual Framework of Youth Development and Educational Performance" at http://www.ed.gov/pubs/EdReformStudies/EdReforms/chap5c.html. (Here you will find a more legible redition of Figure 1 below.) This framework serves to model the Academy's programmatic attempts to develop an educational program designed for today's youth. Those enrollees who are not directly impacted by these negatives are usually troubled secondarily by having to learn in a system where they must contend with those students who are deserving of an education but are not yet equipped to take advantage of the situation. In addition, by lengthening the academic year by six weeks (30 class days), we sought to not only gain the additional learning time needed to bring our students up to par, but also to use the six-week summer to provide remedial reading and math instruction as well as subject matter not adequately learned and other curricular enhancements. We also used the extended period to further our teaching of a necessary aspect of their world that the traditional public schools in Akron have failed to teach, namely, the provision of subject matter and activities that reflect the history and culture of African Americans.
This framework was developed in 1994 by Robert Rossi and Alesia Montgomery of American Institutes for Research and reported under the title "Becoming at Risk of Failure." In this lengthy report, they presented in their Chapter 5, section c, "Education Reforms and Students at Risk: A Review of the Current State of the Art," an interactive model of those forces which poor students in general and African American students and their families in particular have to contend with. The opening paragraph of this chapter, makes the following declaration:
A student's personal, home, community, and school characteristics should not be studied in isolation -- all these
variables contribute to student performance, and they are strongly interactive. Recognizing these interactive
dynamics, we integrate various theoretical perspectives to explain the variety of reasons that some students fail
and others succeed.
The complete report is available at http://www.ed.gov/pubs/EdReformStudies/EdReforms/index.html. The Title Page, the Executive Summary of this report and a discussion of the Conceptual Framework and how it operates are attached. This section is also referred to in the Academy's 1999-2000 Annual Report, pp. 12-14, and also in subsequent Annual Reports. Of importance here, is the fact that the Academy has attempted to utilize this framework to guide the development of its overall program and curricular structure. This is not to say we have perfected it. On the contrary it establishes how concertedly the administrators and faculty have from the very beginning devoted themselves to the struggle for educational reform.
From the outset, the Academy has installed and/or hired highly qualified Board members and administrators and has sought and retained a fully certified teaching corps. Many of the Board members have MAs, MEds, JDs and PhDs. Three have considerable years of teaching experiences that range from 25 to 45 years (see the roster given for Question 5 and their resumes at http://hierographics.org/Academvlndex.shtml); the teaching faculty also reflected a variety of degree levels ranging from a BS in Education to a Master's degree (rosters of faculty from 1999 to 2002 are found on the Academy's Web site and in its three attached Annual Reports). The Academy wanted initially to hire only seasoned teachers willing to introduce innovative teaching methodologies and curricular offerings. To this end we offered beginning teachers a starting salary of $27,500. Those with experience and advanced training were offered $30,000. The starting salary was above or comparable to the salaries offered beginning teachers by the Akron Public Schools. The Academy's overall salary structure in 1999 and beyond was and still is well above the average salaries offered by community schools in Ohio: The Legislative Office of Educational Oversight reported in April 2000 that the average salary of community schools in Ohio during 1998-1999 was $22,050 with 4.2 average years of service. Teachers in City School Districts with 14.8 average years of service received a salary of $43,162. This report may still be accessed at http://www.loeo.state.oh.us/. The idea of paying higher salaries proved to be correct, but correct only in some instances.
One of our first hires was a first-year teacher; however, she was a non-traditional graduate with a BS in elementary education, who we learned was our most committed and creative teacher during the Academy's first two years of operation. We lost her services when she experienced familial problems and moved to Houston, Texas. Some of her achievements were highlighted in the Academy's 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 Annual Reports (these reports are attached and have been posted on the Internet). During our start-up and subsequent program years, our faculty recruitment strategies were per force based (1) on attracting faculty from a limited pool of applicants and (2) hiring those with demonstrated or perceived abilities to handle students displaying severe behavioral characteristics and learning needs. The Academy's insistence on hiring from this pool those applicants with classroom management and quality teaching potential presented some obvious difficulties, for most of the applicants for teaching positions were in the beginning either without actual teaching experience or had some months or years teaching as substitutes. One applicant had no experience but possessed an MEd. In spite of these unnticipated difficulties, we were successful during our first two years in finding some competent faculty. In our third and fourth years, the Academy had more success in hiring a corps of not only competent state certified instructors with varying amounts of experience but also those who are committed to the Academy's educational mission. (See the attached Faculty and Staff and Parent Surveys.)
During its four years of existence, the Academy has met with academic success; however, that success cannot be displayed with OPT results because for the first two years of operation, we had no students eligible to take the examinations. In our third year, only 11 students took the test and the results were pitifully low as we had expected, not because of the quality of their instruction, but rather because of their previous educational preparation. The Academy recently received from the ODE its Preliminary Local Report Card for 2002-2003. It does not provide much information on improved student performance. It does, however, indicate a 91.6 percent attendance rate, and a 100 percent teacher certification rate. The Academy's fourth graders did not show adequate yearly progress. Better indices of academic success are found in the results on selected commercial standardized tests administered by the Academy's faculty along with other assessment tools. (The Local Preliminary Report Card for FY 2002-2003 is attached along with performance analyses on the Iowa Basic Skills, CAT-5, and Terra Nova Tests.)
In the 1999-2000 academic year, we administered the Iowa Basic Skills Test as a pre- and post-test to our first and second grade students to gain baseline data and also to ascertain how much value was added after one year of instruction. Of especial interest to this self evaluation are the results our faculty have been receiving on their in-class administered tests, portfolios, demonstrations and presentations. While we cannot present all of these portfolios, etc., here, we have, however, selected a number of these items to demonstrate how well our students are performing in areas not examined on the proficiency tests. These results are described in the evidentiary documentation provided. In short the Academy administered the Iowa Basic Skills Test as a pre-test in November of the 1999. It was administered again as a post-test in May of 2000. The differences between the pre- and the post-tests are small and offered nothing much to be proud of, except to say that we were presented with a good indication of the educational task we had before us.
In June 2001 we administered the CAT-5 to now four grades -- Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd. This time we were encouraged by the results, for students demonstrated over the year that they were either learning at their grade level or making good strides in that direction. The Terra Nova test was administered twice in 2002-2003 to our Kindergarten through 5th grade students with some most encouraging outcomes. These outcomes are discussed below. The Academy has over the years from 1999 to 2003 retained 10 of its original students, or 20 percent of the 50 students we originally enrolled. The 10 students represented three grade levels: Kindergarten (3), First Grade (1), and Second Grade (5). These students' performance on the Terra Nova is assessed below.
It is worthy of note that our students in grades 1-5 took the Terra Nova's twice this year (2002-2003), once in the Fall and once again in the Spring. We administered the achievement tests twice to compare results, and specifically isolate areas and/or students who made dramatic improvements. Our Title 1 teacher tabulated the results between the two exam dates, and was able to identify growth by grade level equivalences in specific testing areas. The results of her full analysis for each grade level taking the test is attached. It is also very important to note that students were given one level of the test in the Fall, and said level was again requested for Spring. However, the exams we received erroneously in the Spring were a level higher, so improvement was actually even greater than we've noted, simply by virtue this error alone. In general, we felt that we saw consistent improvement among all grades in two or more areas in performance on the Terra Novas as noted in the instructor's notes at the bottom of her attached work papers.
Student Academic Progress Assessmentand Spring of 2002 and 2003)
(as determined by grade level ranking on the Terra Nova Test for reading,
language, math, science and social studies. Tests were administered in the Fall
Entering grade level and grade level at time of testing are within parentheses ( ).
In August of 2002, the Academy hired five new state certified faculty members including an individual who would replace the principal who had served from 1999 to 2002. The hiring of these individuals strengthened the Academy's faculty and administration by replacing those staff persons who had proven to be unproductive; who, we had discovered, had submitted unverifiable academic and certificate credentials; or, as was the case with the former principal, had unfortunately burned out. Halfway through the academic year, the Board of Governors, as was its custom, wrote the faculty and staff suggesting the following teaching and performance objectives.
. . . the Board of Governors . . . deems it essential that we institute methodologies designed to strengthen
the Academy's delivery of its stated Operational Imperatives. The first thing we want to institute is having
among our teaching cadre a fully state certified, competent, creative and innovative faculty. The Academy
is without question secure in this regard and, with the hiring of new faculty for this fifth year, we are convinced
of having amplified our ability to deliver quality instruction to our students. Secondly, the Board feels we
must establish some rigid educational. quality standards to assure our students, their parents, the
community and the Office of Community Schools that the Academy has a rigorous educational program in
The Board's chairperson went on to list five areas the Board of Governors wanted the faculty and staff to respond positively to, the most important of which was the need to "have all faculty and support staff study and appreciate the significance of the . . . document [titled] 'Building Young Scholars for Their Future,' which is based on the Academy's chartering contract with the State Department of Education and which contains the Academy's operational imperatives such as mission, educational philosophy, curricular focus, accountability, governance, etc." The Board Chair's letter stressed not only the faculty's need to continue to have students meet rigorous quality standards based on ODE's competency based curriculum. The "Building Young Scholars" document listed not only the ODE standards for each grade level and the fourth and sixth grade proficiency outcomes but also the Academy's requirement that there be infused into the curriculum African and African American history and culture. It was obvious to the Board of Governors and the Academy's administrative team that most if not all of our teachers were ill-prepared to teach African and African American culture and history. (See the attached "An Infusion Model for African and American Cultural Content.") Teacher preparation programs throughout the nation have not incorporated this subject area into their teacher preparation matrices. The Board also stressed the need for all of its employees to prepare themselves professionally to teach a student population that they were also not taught anything about or had limited experience teaching and relating to their learning styles.
In 2001 the Academy drafted a proposal to SchoolNet (see attached document) which was funded and allowed for the placing of personal computers in all of its classrooms; SchoolNet also provided professional development funds for all classroom teachers and interested staff to be trained at Channel 25 -- WVIZ (Cleveland) not only in various aspects of computer usage but also on selected software, e.g., power point, excel, word, FrontPage, etc. The primary emphasis of the training seminars or workshops was to introduce the faculty to computer-aided instruction methodologies, resources and available software. Each year as faculty and/or staff members leave our employ, their replacements also participate in a similar training process at WVIZ. We have also received through eRate computers, a master server and technical assistance in networking all personal computers in the classrooms and administrative offices so that every instructor, administrator and student, where allowable, can access applications stored on the master server and the Internet. (Students' parents are asked to grant permission for their child(ren) to access the Internet.) As stated elsewhere the provision of computer hardware and software does not in and of itself make for a well organized technology-based instructional program. Indeed, much of this program is dependent on how well trained each faculty member is, how desirous are faculty to develop their own computer-based lessons much less use those commercially available. The Academy is assured that the leadership drive of its Principal, its Chief Administrative Officer along with the encouragement of its Program Management Consultant will produce demonstrable results in the near future. The stabilization of our teaching and administrative cadres makes this a reliable portent.
The Academy, as indicated earlier on, encourages all of its staff, particularly its teaching faculty, to attend professional development seminars, workshops, and classes or engage in professional activities such as grant writing, reading papers at conferences, etc. We also encourage faculty certified to teach only grades K to 3 to upgrade their certificates so they can teach grades K to 8. For more on the Academy's professional development initiatives, see the commentary for Question 9 on quality teaching and the Academy's LPDC .
The Academy's administration, especially its Program Management Consultant, Dr. Crosby, in 2000 posted on the Academy's Web site a comprehensive bibliography of books and articles related to African American and World studies. This bibliography also contains a lengthy listing of relevant links to online curricular resources to support the Academy's emphasis on infusing African and African American history and culture into the curriculum. Recently the Program Management Consultant suggested reading materials related to this emphasis to be duplicated and handed to faculty. He has also informed Board members, faculty and staff via e-Mail of educational issues, federal regulations, RFPs and related matters. (A selection of these readings and emails is attached.) The Academy also sponsored curriculum building and educational diversity in-service workshops. From 1999 onwards there has been, as mentioned earlier on, some difficulty experienced getting faculty to infuse African American history and culture into the curriculum. Of course, some faculty were able to retool, others were not even though the former Principal prodded and cajoled his faculty to do this until he was simply burned out. It was not until his successor relieved him that appreciable gains were made in diversifying the curriculum. Originally, the founders saw the curriculum also emphasizing World Culture Studies. The Academy has now decided to de-emphasize this overly ambitious curricular element. In essence, we felt that preparing our students to learn the ODE curricular standards and do well on the OPTs directly and indirectly instructs them in American and by extension to World (European) Culture Studies.
Question 3: How does the school's curriculum support the mission of the school and promote high achievement for students of all abilities and interests?
The Ida B. Wells Community Academy has a curriculum in place that speaks directly to our mission. The mission of our school is to provide students of all abilities and backgrounds with a year-round educational program in grades K-6 with a holistic emphasis. This holistic approach consists of a personalized, problem-posing, and problem-solving instructional emphasis buttressed by small class sizes -- a 15:1 teacher to student ratio. Our curriculum supports and follows the standards for all grade levels as set forth by the State of Ohio, yet we also place strong emphasis on the humanities, natural sciences, African American history, and, where practical world studies. Today, one hundred percent of the students enrolled at the Ida B. Wells Community Academy are African American. Our goal is to begin to provide them with a clearly-defined sense of their own history, and from there, relate it to their place in today's world. We want our students to receive instruction that considers their past, as well as providing them with the tools that will prepare them for their future. To that end, the Academy has made a commitment to securing computers, and internet service in all classrooms, and technological enhancers to provide an adequate exposure to some of the technology students will surely be using in the future. All students at the Academy have the opportunity to use computers daily, whether it is for typing a story they may have written in language arts, or for researching a topic on an Internet web site, or for playing an educational game such as Math Blaster, Mancala (Omweso, Wari -- African counting games), or computerized Africa or USA Map puzzles.
The interests and abilities of our students varies from year to year, therefore it is vital that our teachers continue to develop and expand upon their teaching methods. We have been very active in terms of professional development. Our teachers are continuously "seeking" new approaches to helping students learn. It is important to have a variety of activities planned within each lesson that touch on the different senses -- sight, Sound, touch, taste, smell. Many of our students prefer a "hands-on" approach to learning, while others enjoy, and may learn best from written practice. We consider the learning styles of our students when assigning homework, in-class activities, and/or projects. One strategy that we have found to be successful in terms of letting the child select the best type of activity for himself is to loosely set criteria for the manner in which a project is completed -- the student is completely aware of the elements that must be illustrated or defined, but has the freedom to demonstrate his learning in a manner s/he chooses. We have used rubrics in many areas to clearly highlight critical components required to receive the maximum number of points for the particular project, and found this to be highly motivational for the students.
In summary, our main focus is to provide all of our students with a sense of themselves. We go about doing this in a variety of ways, but basically, we are really trying to help each student develop his/her own unique talents. It is our belief that every child is reachable and teachable. To help effect this attitude in the minds of our students and their parents, we have at times resorted to have them sign a "Commitment Contract." We will use this contract again during the 2003-2004 academic year. (The "Students and Parents Commitment Contract" is attached.)
Question 4: How does your instructional delivery system promote student achievement?
As indicated in Question 3, our instructional delivery system is very broad. We are not simply a book and paper work learning site. The Academy firmly believes in exposing its students to a multitude of learning activities. We believe that every child can achieve and we strive to see that every student does. It is the job of every teacher at the Academy to help the students we teach find the connection and make it relevant to their community, their neighborhood, and most importantly to themselves. There are many ways that we promote achievement for our students, and the Title I -- Reading and Math program is one such method successfully making a difference. The students who qualify for Title I services are fortunate to have a teacher with 20 years of teaching experience provide them with daily small group instruction. This service has been a real support and success factor for the students we serve. In addition, we have applied for and received a small amount of money ($2,000) to develop an Ohio Reads Program. The funding ran out before we could make much progress; however, with the assigning of an additional Title I -- Reading instructor, we feel we will be able to assure that all of our students will read by the end of the third grade. The Academy is working toward documenting the need to have all of our students rendered eligible for Title I services given their performance for the past two years on the OPTs and other standardized tests. Our Special Education program has been helpful in these same areas. Typically, the students who have IEPs will see the Special Education Specialist for small group instruction, one on one sessions, and inclusive services in the regular education classrooms. Finding a committed Special Education Specialist has dogged the Academy since its inception. That is, we were able to secure "certified" specialists, but they were either short-termers or unwilling to. devote the requisite time and attention to the requirements of the position. Moreover, we have retained the services of the Psychological Services Institute that tested students for mental disabilities and hearing, sight and speech impairments. With the passage of HB 364 and the ability to contract with the Portage County Educational Services Center, we have finally solved our problem in part; we may still need to retain the services of a part- or full-time"school" psychologist.
The average class sizes at the Academy are on average 15 students per teacher which is generally much smaller than the typical public school teacher to student ratio. This then being the case we are able to do even more one-on-one instruction with our students, without having to pull them out to the Title 1 or Special Education classrooms. We believe that field trips are excellent learning opportunities, and we participate in them regularly. We find that allowing the students to do things for their community (clean-ups, planting flowers, gathering items for local charities) can provide them with a wonderful sense of value and pride. With the recent passing of No Child Left Behind, the Academy's administration sent the "POLICY BRIEF: Charter Schools and the New Federal Accountability Provisions," cited under those documents supporting our response to Question 3, to direct everyone to pay close attention to its provisions. The Academy realizes the importance of our need to do everything possible to provide our students with an active vs. passive instructional program. An old Chinese proverb comes to mind: I see and hear -- I remember; I do -- I understand.
Question 5: Provide an organizational chart of the school's administrative structure, including all staff and contractors. List the functions (job duties) of each person. Identify those responsible for oversight of the curriculum and teaching.
The original and current Organizational Charts for the Academy are attached and can be reviewed upon request; it should be noted, however, even though the basic organization of the Academy has not changed in any of its essential aspects and chain of command, the number of Governors indicated and their functions have been modified. For instance, several Governors have resigned from the Board because of having moved out of state, work assignments have changed and/or time constraints prevented their involvement; for example, Dr. Crosby could no longer function as the Board's Chair, Mr. Dean Seavers moved to Miami, Florida, became a Regional Vice President -- Southeastern Division at ADT's headquarters and could no longer chair the Budget and Finance Committee, and Dr. Darryl Tukufu could no longer chair the Discipline and Grievance Committee because he accepted the position of Executive Director of Nashville's Urban League, Mrs. Kimberly Amponsah, an attorney was given new job responsibilities with National City Bank -- Cleveland which prevented her continuing to chair the Legal Affairs and Insurance Committee.
The Academy has experienced problems replacing active Governors with the professional qualities of those we lost; nevertheless, the management of the Academy has not suffered overly much. The situation as will be shown in the roster below resulted in the remaining Governors having to accept multiple committee assignments. In some instances, we have had to farm out to individuals who didn't believe they were able to be Board members and devote the time required, but did agree to offer service, e.g., Mr. Edward Gilbert, Esq., agreed to offer legal services and has represented the Academy on some vexing and critical legal issues.
BOARD OF GOVERNORS AND ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF ROSTER
(The Governors' resumes are posted on the Academy's Web site.)
FACULTY & TEACHING ASSISTANTS
Over the last four years the Academy has employed a number of teachers. Eighty-six percent of the full complement of faculty members, including Assistant Teachers, has been State certified or approved (an insignificant number of classroom teachers have not). Presently, they are all 100 percent State certified or approved. As pointed out in our response to Questions 1 and 2, we stated that one of our problems in the beginning years was not necessarily recruiting certified teachers, it was rather finding teachers who were committed to instituting educational reform methods in curriculum development, student discipline strategies, the willingness to and preparation in the holistic infusion of African and African American history and culture into the curriculum. These problems were exacerbated by some faculty members' being unwilling to do what is necessary, making the required sacrifices to build a fully non-traditional educational institution from the ground up.
When the Academy's founders decided to join the movement for parental choice, we were led to believe that we were not being asked to imitate the status quo, but were instead being asked to "create" an educational experience that would reform, revolutionize, if you will, the American schooling process as it related to low and middle income students in general, and particularly those of African American descent. It was with this effort that we experienced initial difficulty recruiting the proper set of faculty members. In our third and fourth years the situation began to change. Yes, the newly hired faculty were not well trained in the infusion of a history and culture they were not familiar with, but they were willing to make educated attempts however difficult the adjustments may be. The faculty listed below under "Current Faculty and Assistant Teachers 2001-2003" represent for the years indicated a cadre of teachers committed to the creation of a community of learners and teachers. This is not to say that all of their and the Academy's institutional and curricular ethno-social academic difficulties and dilemmas have been overcome. To the contrary, it says we have finally come to a point in our development where we can devote more concerted efforts to resolving these and other seemingly persistent issues. Under "Former Faculty and Staff 1999-2003," we have listed those faculty and staff members who are no longer employed.
Current Faculty and Assistant Teachers 2001-2003
*Mrs. Rumrill resigned as Principal on August 13, 2003, just before the 2003-2004 academic year started.
**More detailed information on the Academy's former faculty, including substitutes and volunteers, is found in the attached Annual Reports for 1999-2000, 2000-2001, and 2001-2002. This group of faculty were for the most part qualified on the one hand by virtue of their certification and dedication to the education of at risk youngsters; however, on the other, a small number of them were not adequate for the task they were hired to accomplish and were relieved of that responsibility.
***Mr. Pringle was one of the developers of the Academy and served for three years as its Principal. In 2003, he asked to be reassigned to the classroom; later in the year he unfortunately resigned from the Academy altogether.
****Mrs. Starkey resigned in August 2003 just before classes started.
Question 6: How does the school communicate information to students, staff, families and other stakeholders?
The Academy communicates information to its students, parents, staff, Governors and the community as a whole through a wide range of methods. At the beginning of each academic school year, the Academy's school calendar is passed out to all the parents, and Board members, and distributed throughout the community. Board meeting notices are published in the Academy's Calendar and in Akron's leading newspaper -- the Beacon Journal. One of the most common forms of communication used by the teachers is their classroom's newsletter which informs their students' parents at least once a month about what is going on at the Academy, and about any upcoming events. (See the attached examples.) The primary form of communication utilized by the Academy's administration to inform the families is a personally addressed letter. Any information that needs to be communicated to the families regarding any new policies, changes in the calendar, or special events goes out to the families via the U.S. mail as well as through the students, who are given a second copy of the letter to carry home. Other information that needs to be communicated community wide is done through newspaper ads, flyers, billboards, and bulletins and the Internet. Another form of communication used to inform our parents, the community and ODE and LOEO is our Annual Report. The Annual Reports provide a wealth of information that can be utilized as a tracking tool for the Academy's progress from year to year, for they recap the entire year's progress, failures and successes, struggles, and accomplishments over the years. These reports are summarized and sent to the
parents of registered students and other stakeholders usually in October or November of the following academic year.
The general community is comprehensively informed about the Academy through its Web site that was first posted on June 23, 2000 -- http://hierographics.org/Academylndex.shtml. This site has received to date more than 2,984 hits. The number of hits is recorded either by those who enter the site through its home page or those who sign the Academy's Guestbook which has had 482 visitors. It should be noted that our Web site can be found on the Google search engine and has, therefore, reached an even broader array of visitors, some of whom were interested in establishing or working at charter schools in Memphis, Minneapolis, Chicago, Miami, Cleveland, or Little Rock. Many others have been college students writing research papers on alternative education programs and on working to reform the schooling process in the United States. Thus the Academy has communicated not only with its primary stakeholders in the Greater Akron community but also with the general public in Ohio and throughout the nation. Hence, the number of visitors tallied is perhaps higher because some computer literates or those using search engines such as Google perhaps allowed visitors to by pass the Academy's home page and access individual Web pages by typing in the URL for that specific page.
When communicating information to the Board, faculty and staff, from the administration, it is usually done through e-mails, letters or memoranda. E-mails are also used to communicate to the Board things that come up between meetings that need to be addressed or to announce special Board meetings. This information is reinforced with faculty and staff through discussions during their weekly meetings. Each month standing committee reports and reports from the Principal, the CAO, and the Treasurer are the most direct way of communicating information to the Board of Governors. These reports summarize any changes that have been made, any current events, policy recommendations, the financial status of the Academy, and any other pertinent information that needs to be communicated to the Board. In all, we utilize various forms of communication to disseminate information throughout the community, to our parents, and to other Academy stakeholders.
Question 7: How does the day to day management of the school incorporate the priorities identified in the school's accountability plan?
One of the Academy's main priority is being certain that all faculty and staff, including the individual members of the Board of Governors, are aware of and fully understand what their obligations are to their students, their students' parents, and to the Academy's stakeholders in general. To assure this awareness and understanding, we have sent to everyone a Board Resolution which establishes the Academy's "Standards for Academic Governance and Leadership" as stipulated in ORC 3301-35-04 -- “Student and Other Stakeholder Focus” (see the attached Resolution). The opening sentence in this Resolution reads as follows:
"Leaders, i.e., Governors, Superintendent, Principal, Faculty and Staff, set and communicate direction throughout
the Academy . . . consistent with the Academy's Bylaws, the Academy's educational philosophy and mission,
the needs and expectations of all stakeholders, and local, state, and federal mandates to improve classroom
instruction and higher academic achievement for all students."
As indicated in the Academy's accountability plan, we center our attention on student assessment and special academic services. Within these two areas, there are many subsets that we must focus on. Some of these subsets are regular teacher driven testing regimes, in-house student achievement conferences, student portfolios, presentations, and the related provision of extra-classroom educational services to our students. Three outside service agencies frequently used are Psychological Services Institute (PSI) for Speech, Hearing, Language and Psychological Therapy BS MEO/SERRC which provides our school with technical support, workshops, and presentations; we get psychological services from PSI, the American Red Cross, and the Portage County Educational Service Center which has recently been contracted to provide general special education services.
Each Fall, continuing students are required to re-register. New students have file folders made for their medical records, emergency contact phone numbers, IEP records, attendance records, free or reduced price meal applications, etc. During the first week of classes, we administer the Terra Nova -- a diagnostic achievement tool to assess the current level of performance for students in grades K - 6. The Terra Nova also provides a baseline indication of where each student is starting academically so that with this data and other information provided by his/her medical or school records a determination of the best educational course of action can be taken with regards to planning the students' learning path. For instance, it is determined if the students should be referred to the Title I reading and math instructors or to the Special Education Specialist. The Terra Nova is administered again in the Spring or earlier to determine if there has been any measurable improvement over the course of time or if the learning path needs to be revised upward or downward. Our former Special Education teacher used the WIAT, an instrument designed to highlight specific areas of disability. The Title I instructors have been using the CAT-5, which has been particularly helpful for quick analysis of approximate grade level functioning. All teachers at the Academy keep portfolios for each child. The portfolios include a wide variety of items intended to provide a detailed account of the child's academic progress. There may be written assignments placed within tests, stories the child has written, reports, art work, audio and/or video tapes, report cards, midterm progress reports, and other documentation. Teachers also have students make graded presentations during Kwanzaa, Black History Month, or during the Malcolm X Memorial or on Ida B. Wells' Birthday or participate in essay contests held during Black History Month and the June 'Teenth Celebration. Each month individual students are highlighted as "Student of the Month" in the corridor. Teachers include a short summary of the child's current goals and objectives and areas needing improvement.
The support of the agencies mentioned earlier (MEO/SERCC, PCESC, PSI ) afford us the unique opportunity to provide our students with assistance, curriculum modifications, and/or additions easily and quickly. Our approach is to meet the students where they are (culturally, socially, and academically) and then move them to a higher level. The current instructional system in place is helping us to achieve the goals we outlined in our contract, namely, having our students show competence in the five learning proficiency areas -- Citizenship, Mathematics, Reading, Writing, and Science.
Question 8: How does the school use its financial resources to support student learning and sustain the essential elements of the organization?
Each fiscal year, the Board of Governors approves the budget prepared and presented by the Treasurer. This budget had already been reviewed by the Financial Affairs and Planning Committee and revised if necessary to meet the known and anticipated financial needs of the Academy. At this review meeting the critical mass of student recruits is determined and the number of faculty that would be required to service them. Since the budget is student head count driven, students are of primary importance to our overall operation. The Academy, therefore, devotes the major portion of its financial resources to those elements designed to produce value added to the intellectual growth of it student body. The budget is composed of several components with instructional, i.e., faculty, educational equipment, assessment materials and supplies -- class books, pencils and paper, art supplies, computer floppy and CD discs are just some of them. These items require a large budgetary outlay, for the Academy and the proper education of our students depends on these expenditures. Each year, we buy new textbooks, computerized instruction applications and curriculum materials. We are constantly adding supplemental materials that will help reinforce the lessons taught by the teachers. Everything the teacher needs to teach is provided, including science kits, workbooks, manipulatives for math and telling time, flash cards, etc. Approximately 79 percent of the budget is allocated for educational materials and supplies, and faculty and assistant teacher salaries. Another 21 percent of the budget is consumed by administrative salaries and other costs including the cost of transportation for the summer extended educational program and field trips.
Question 9: How do you evaluate the quality of teaching? How is the quality of all school leadership assessed?
The quality of teaching is evaluated by the Academy's Principal on a regular basis. Teachers are observed three times per year formally, and informally weekly. All new hires -- Principal and teachers -- must serve a 90-day probationary period, after which they are evaluated using a standard Academy devised evaluation form to determine whether they should be retained in their current positions or transferred to another position or terminated. This form is completed by the Principal and is then gone over with the teacher. The teacher is allowed to make comments or provide feedback on said form, sign and return it to the principal. This form is then filed in the teacher's personnel file. Secondly, a more formal observation is then planned, where the Principal can observe a lesson being taught, and provide feedback to the teacher on components of the lesson. Teacher and Principal meet again after the lesson has been observed to go over the findings, and make some suggestions for teaching improvement. The teacher is again provided with a copy of this for his/her records, and the original goes in the teacher's personnel file. At the end of this probation evaluation, the Principal reports the results of the evaluation and sends a retention recommendation to the CAO who informs the chair of the Personnel and Benefits Committee. A letter is then sent to the faculty or staff member notifying him or her of the results of the evaluation. (See the documentation (or Attachments) for Question 10 for copies of the evaluation forms and the "end-of-probation" notice letters.)
Teachers are also required to develop a professional development plan. This plan is created with the Academy's Mission Statement and the personal goals and objectives of the teacher in mind. These goals may include specific areas that the teacher would like to improve, e.g., classroom management or, they may be related to a specific content area, say, African American history. The chairperson of the LPDC then uses the plan to help the teacher find and participate in related workshops or seminars or university course(s). The informal observations of teachers may involve the Principal simply sitting in or walking through the classrooms on a regular, but unannounced basis. Much information can be gleaned in a few minutes by simply walking in and observing, for example, what is the teacher doing? What are the students doing? Are the students writing, listening, working in small groups, or are they unruly? Is technology being used? How is it being used? How does the teacher respond to students? What is the overall climate in the room at the time? Is it quiet? Is it relaxed? Is it tense? In what manner is information being presented to the learners? In the Academy's statement on "Faculty and Staff Employment and Performance Expectations," the following policy is outlined:
"All employees will be observed on an ongoing basis by the Principal, using both formal and informal observations.
Formal observations will include a pre-observation conference as well as a post-observation conference.
First year employees shall have at least two formal observations prior to the three-month review outlined in
Section D, below. Prior to the six-month review, described in Section D, at least two additional formal observations
will be conducted for first year employees.
"Returning staff will have three formal observations every three months as described in Section E, below. Results of
formal observations, consisting of the employee's and the Principal's observations and recommendations, will
be put in writing and included within the employee's own Personal Development Portfolio and the Academy's
personnel file. Nothing in this section limits the Principal from conducting other observations of an informal or
Formal Reviews First-Year Employees
"For all first year employees, there shall be a formal review held during the probation period of three months (90 days)
after the start of the academic year. The purpose of the three-month review shall be to review the employee's
self assessment, the job description, areas of responsibility, and progress toward goals and outcomes, noting
particularly good work, areas for improvement and skill development, deficient work, and developing a clear plan for
improvement. This review will conclude the 90 day probation period and will result in a determination of
whether the employee should be retained. At that time, the Principal will inform the employee and report to the
Personnel Committee whether the Academy intends to continue the employee's employment for the remainder
of the academic year. Six months from the start of the academic year, a second review will be held to determine
progress made toward the improvement plan. Results of these reviews will be put in writing and placed within the
employee's own Personal Development Portfolio and the Academy's personnel file.
"In addition, first-year and older employees will participate in the review of the Principal by providing feedback to the
Principal's job performance; and the Principal will share with the employees her/his own self assessment. Any written
feedback or self assessment materials will be placed into the Principal's personnel file."
Formal Reviews - Returning Employees
"For returning staff, there shall be formal reviews every three months of the academic year. The purpose of these
reviews will be to review progress toward the employee's personal and professional growth plans described above
in Section B. At that time, the Principal will inform the employee and report to the Personnel Committee whether
the Academy intends to continue the staff person's employment for the subsequent academic year. Results of these
reviews will be put in writing and placed within the employee's Personal Development Portfolio and the Academy's
Not only is the quality of teaching evaluated on a regular basis, so, too, is the Principal's performance:
Evaluation of the Principal
"The Principal shall be evaluated by the Chief Administrative Officer and the Chair of the Personnel Committee of the
Board of Governors prior to the end of each year's contract based on criteria set forth by job responsibilities. Results
shall be communicated in writing and included in the employee's Personal Development Portfolio and personnel file."
Response to Observation and Review Findings
"All employees shall have the right to make written objections to the observations or review findings within one week
of receipt by stating areas of disagreement. These objections will be attached to the observation and/or evaluation
and kept in the employee's personnel file."
The "Faculty and Staff Employment and Performance Expectations" from which the above sections have been excerpted are attached with the evidentiary documentation.
The Board of Governors evaluates the Chief Administrative Officer through its Chair of the Personnel and Benefits Committee who reports his recommendations to the Board and receives their advice and consent which is communicated to the CAO. Furthermore, the Board's By Laws stipulate that its Chair and Vice Chair as well as the Chairs of its Standing Committees must each stand for reelection when their terms expire. They may decline to be reconsidered for the posts or new candidates must be proposed and stand for election.
Removal of Governors
The Board may remove a Governor without cause as provided by the Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 1702: Nonprofit Corporation Law. The Board may also remove any Governor who:
"The Board may remove any officer, either with or without cause, at any time. Such removal shall not prejudice the
officer's rights, if any, under an employment contract. Any officer may resign at any time by giving written notice to the
corporation, the resignation taking effect on receipt of the notice or at a later date as specified in the notice."
The complete text of the Academy's By Laws are posted on the Academy's Web site. The Web site lays out a complete picture -- both literally and figuratively of the Academy's Board's Governors and their resumes, its faculty, its administrators, its curriculum, its mission, its founding namesake -- Ida B. Wells Barnett, all three of its Annual Reports, and many other items that define the Ida B. Wells Community Academy. The Academy has from the beginning striven to announce its existence to the general public, for on occasion we have felt that we are the community's best kept secret. That feeling is fast dissipating, however.
Question 10: What are your school's most significant priorities and goals? What plan is in place to address areas needing improvement?
One of the most significant priorities the Academy has is to create an educational environment in which all of our students are reading, writing, and comprehending at grade level. Another significant priority is the development of an educational process the takes into consideration the Conceptual Framework and findings of Rossi and Montgomery highlighted above and in the documentation for this question. For the students who are not on grade level, we concentrate as much attention as possible on the provision of opportunities to excel and to move on to higher levels of competency at their own rate. Unfortunately, rigid scheduling of the OPTs by the State obviates our ability to do this as well as we would like. Our primary goal is, nevertheless, to meet each and every student where they are currently, both academically and socially, and take them to higher levels. We do this by setting goals and objectives for the students, parents, faculty and staff, and the Governing Board. To accomplish a well functioning Board, we proposed at thorough Board training process; however, we were able to pursue this object as outlined in our ODE contract. The activities we did engage in to develop our Board included a day-long retreat held on a Saturday at Kent State University. Every aspect of the Academy must be functioning at an acceptable level of performance in order to create an educational environment that the students can achieve in. Therefore, new policies are implemented from time to time. We also prioritize our educational goal and objectives through the hiring of fully qualified faculty and staff. The criteria for hiring teachers becomes more and more strict each year as we look to employ those who can help create the educational environment desired and contribute to the overall learning process established at the Academy.
As mentioned elsewhere in this self evaluation, the Program Management Consultant, the Chief Administrative Officer and the Principal meet on a weekly basis to discuss the work objectives of past weeks and the current week, the academic programming issues that need attention and other related matters. Each year and sometimes earlier, the administration assesses the Academy on its different levels of operation -- finances, facility needs, staffing, student recruitment, and academic performance. This assessment process is initiated by the Financial Affairs and Planning Committee which usually develops multiple year program improvement timelines. These timelines provide the administrative leadership -- Governors and staff -- with an idea of the areas within the program that need to be improved and the length of time each improvement should take. Once an area has been identified as needing improvement, we then come together as groups (the Board, administration, faculty and staff) and brainstorm about various solutions that will strengthen the areas needing improvement. The end result is usually a plan of action to remedy the situation, or a set of objectives that would need to be met in order to resolve the problem. One such problem that needed to be resolved was coming up with a process to handle students who came to the Academy's Learning Center at 7:00 am, well before faculty arrived at 7:30 am. Moreover, some parents wanted the Academy to hold their children until 5:00 or 5:30 pm or until they got off work. In an attempt to solve their need, we drafted a before and after school proposal; it was not funded, however. And an alternative method was developed. (See evidentiary documentation for Questions 1-3, and 6 for further substantiation of our responses to this Question.)
Question 11: Describe the manner in which the students' safety is ensured.
The safety of our students is a number one priority. Therefore, we have taken several steps over the years to maintain a safe environment. At the Salvation Army, the Army had its own security mechanism in force. At each of our subsequent locations we installed a video camera and a buzzing device that would allow the Academy's secretary to see the person(s) trying to gain access, and then be able to push a button to let the person enter the Academy. Once a visitor arrives at the Academy and is granted access, they are instructed to come directly to the office where they must then sign in and wear a badge. If a person is found in the hallways without a badge, he/she is questioned by the staff person to discover who they are and why they are in the learning center. If their presence is legitimate, they are directed to their destination. The students' whereabouts are constantly monitored by the teachers and hall passes from the teacher are required for every student leaving the room. The hall passes note on them the destination of the student -- Principal's office, restroom, another classroom, or Special Education Office. All classrooms have placed in a conspicuous location near the door the escape route from the building in case of fire and the safe collection place in case of a tornado alert. The Academy has on occasion had the Akron Fire Department conduct its Fire Safety Program for students and students have visited a fire station as a group field trip. The Akron Police Department has also introduced students to its D.A.R.E program to inform the students of their need to say no to drugs.
Question 12: In addition to parents, are there other community partners that play a central role in the school?
From the outset the Academy has worked with a variety of community organizations. For instance, from November 1998 the two co-founders of the Academy worked with a team of 23 community residents and organizations to help develop a working plan for the establishment of an educational institution that would where possible and feasible relate to the community's educational needs. The names of these individuals are found on the Academy's Web site at http://hierographics.orG/Academylndex.shtml. The organizations to which some of these persons belonged were the Akron Public Schools, the African American Cultural Association, The University of Akron, Kent State University, the City of Akron Department of Community Development, Jamaica Mall, university students, community residents, attorneys, social workers, hospital staff, etc. Since 1998 we have added to this list religious organizations, community recreational and service centers, and the Summit County Public Libraries -- the Wooster and Maple Valley Branches, and the Education Leadership Roundtable of Akron, Ohio: A Community effort to mobilize the Akron community in support of the reading abilities of city and county's children.
Even though the Academy worked with these organizations, we have not considered them to be partners as such, for they have not been as integral as the Academy's partnership with the Ohio Charter Schools Association based in Columbus, the Harrison Cultural Arts Center in Lorain, the Edge Academy and the Summit Academy Management, Inc., the Lucas County Educational Service Center in Toledo, A Better Community Development, Inc., in Canton, NeoNet, and MEO/SERRC, and the Portage County Educational Service Center.
Question 13: Describe how the school's faculty and administrators are qualified to fulfill the school's mission.
The teachers employed at the Academy are qualified to fulfill the school's mission for many reasons. First, all teachers hold credentials from accredited universities/colleges. Each teacher holds a valid teaching certificate in his/her degree area. Several of the teachers hold a Bachelor's degree plus additional hours in their field, and the Principal has 10 plus years of teaching experience and a master's degree in educational technology (focus: using technology to enhance teaching). One of our Title I -- Reading and Math instructors has 20 years of experience. Our Chief Administrative Officer holds an MBA, is a State licensed Business Manager, expects to complete this fall at Kent State University the last requirement for becoming a State licensed School Treasurer (or Fiscal Officer). We have recently hired a fifth grade teacher who is State certified and also holds and MBA. The fourth grade teacher has earned 36 graduate credits towards an MEd degree; the sixth grade teacher has completed several hours toward the PhD in Educational Administration.
Second, in addition to having the state requirements in place that allow the faculty to teach, the faculty have also been trained in how to deliver the Academy's curriculum to our current student population. They have participated in several workshops this year pertaining to African American history and cultural awareness topics. This year we retained the services of Mr. Kofi Khemet of Sacramento, California, to conduct three workshops on the number and types of resource materials available in libraries and on the Internet, the strategies that can be used to conduct research on the Web, infusing African and African American history and culture into the Academy's curriculum. Mr. Khemet holds an MEd in Student Personnel Services from Kent State University. One of his daughters attends a Waldorf Schule (community school) in Sacramento; the other two are being homeschooled primarily by himself. Another consultant retained was Mrs. Gail Dudley of Highly Recommended (Oberlin, Ohio). She conducted cultural awareness interviews with faculty, staff and Board members to ascertain their perspectives on cultural and curriculum diversity workshops. Mrs. Dudley will return and hold classroom management workshops with faculty. With these activities we have, as a team of educators, continued to work to expand our knowledge base regarding the infusion of African American culture into the daily curriculum and by doing so be better prepared to meet our students where they are culturally and socially. Additional monies were set aside this year for expanding our teacher resource materials at the Academy in the area of African American history and culture.
The teaching staff at the Academy has demonstrated a strong commitment to professional development in a wide variety of areas. This can best be exemplified by reviewing the diverse workshops teachers have attended this past year alone; and by calculating the total number of hours our staff spent in seminars and/or workshops -- over 186 hours! The teachers believe, as we preach to our students, that one is never too old to learn something new. The Board of Governors, as has already been demonstrated, has from the Academy's inception been composed of individuals who are not only experienced educators, but the Board is also composed of persons committed to the delivery of a quality education to its enrollees.
Question 14: With respect to your contract, describe any successes and challenges that your school has encountered since its founding that have not previously been addressed.
The Academy experienced many successes as evidenced elsewhere in this self evaluation. We have also experienced many challenges. Many of these challenges were produced by our somewhat overzealous approach to institution building, that is, the two founders of the Academy had been involved with the community control of the schools and other educational reform movements that grew out of the turbulent 60s and early 70s. The advent of community schools in Ohio and there ability to get involved in the "School Choice" movement energized them and others in the Akron community. So they opened the Ida B. Wells Community Academy. They inserted the word "community' into the title to symbolize where they were coming from and who their stakeholders would really be. In reality, however, we were besieged by our own naïveté and failure to anticipate the number and complexity of difficulties we would have to confront: (1) finding a suitable facility, (2) recruiting and retaining certified and experienced teachers, (3) recruiting students, (4) absurdly producing proficient at risk students at the 75th percentile on 26 variables on the OPT, and (5) enlisting the active participation of parents and other members of the community. With the assistance of one of our Board members, Mrs. Gerri Hayes Chavez, who had worked for the Salvation Army in another state and served the Army in Akron as a consultant, we gained permission to lease a portion of their East Akron Salvation Army Post at 1104 Johnston Street. The space we were allowed to occupy was two rooms. By dividing one room into two the space was just large enough to accommodate our Kindergarten, first and second grades. An additional discouragement was the space only permitted the enrollment of 50 students.
Fortunately this number, of students amounted to a critical mass and we were able receive based on our enrollment, DPIA, all day Kindergarten, small class sizes, etc. to receive sufficient funding from ODE to pay the rent, hire staff, purchase supplies, arrange for the transportation of our students, and meet other obligations. We were again fortunate and found adequate administrative office space at 395 E. Tallmadge Avenue about a 5 minute drive from the Salvation Army Learning Center. Fifty enrolled students was slightly below the number we had proposed in our contract; however, this was the best we could do. Thus began a series of enrollment shortfalls brought on by our inability to procure a larger facility. For the next two years, we would be beset by having to do
the best we could with cramped programming space. With our move into Antioch Baptist Church at 670 Wooster Avenue, we gained more commodious space and could enroll students in grades K to 4 and have 2 first grade classes. We were now able to serve a larger number of students and still have space for administrative offices; it was still cramped, but effective until we once again outgrew the main building and moved our administrative offices to the church's annex. In 1999 Antioch and the Academy envisioned building onto the church's education wing a modular one story addition. This construction would have, in conjunction with the space we already occupied, satisfied our space needs certainly for the remaining years of our contract and perhaps with controlled growth even longer.
In the spring of 2002, we had planned to move our 3rd and 4th grades into the Mt. Olive Baptist Church facility (1180 Slosson Street) to relieve our now overcrowded existence at Antioch. Later, at the start of the 2002-2003 academic year, the Academy decided to move into Mt. Olive "bunk and junk" and having done so, we have gained much more space for the Learning Center and its administrative offices. We now enjoy ample space on three floors -- 1st, 2nd and basement floors. We now expect to enroll up to 150 students (or more) in our fifth program year. Finally, all things being equal, we may have come just 30 or even fewer students short of our projected contractual mark of 180 students in the fifth year. Needless to say, this was success beyond our earlier imaginings
The most debilitating and somewhat successfully resolved challenge occurred a week or so before the start of classes in 1999. We learned along with the Edge and Summit Academies that the Akron Board of Education had resolved to refuse to transport our students as required by Ohio Revised Code § 3314.09 on the specious grounds that such transportation would be both unreasonable and impractical. Of course, Ida B. Wells and the Edge Academy sued the Akron City School District with the legal assistance of Mr. Clint F. Satow, the Director of OCSC (now Vice President of OCSA) and Chad A. Readier, Esq., of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue of Columbus. We won this suit and on May 12, 2000 when the State Board of Education ruled that Akron must provide transportation to Edge and Ida B. Wells. The Akron Board of Education, however, refused, as ordered, to reimburse the plaintiffs -- Ida B. Wells and Edge -- for the cost of the transportation they had contracted for with Laidlaw Transportation Services, Inc. These costs amounted to $64,000 for Ida B. Wells and $55,000 for Edge. The plaintiffs did not receive reimbursement until November 2003, after the Akron Board had appealed three court rulings in their disfavor. The Akron Board of Education continues to refuse to transport the Academy's students attending its contractual extended 6-week summer session which has cost $19,000 or more each year. The Academy believes this refusal is also contrary to law, but we have decided as of now not to challenge this refusal. The Akron Board of Education claims, as expected, that this transportation is both unnecessary and impractical. In all we were set back $83,000. But, since we decided not to challenge the Akron Board of Education for $20,269.59 for three plus years of interest on their debt, we actually lost $103,259. The unanticipated outlay of $83,000 also stymied our plans to purchase educational equipment, student and office furniture and educational and office supplies. Fortunately, the Salvation Army allowed us to use their furniture sized for small children, playground equipment and removal tables in the gymnasium which we also used as our cafeteria. Obviously we had use of the gymnasium for physical education activities, too.
One of our founders and former Chair of the Board of Governors had been a department chairperson at Kent State University for 25 years and was, therefore, familiar with the State's Department of Administrative Services, Office of Cooperative Purchasing program that administers the purchase of supplies, services, equipment and certain other materials at reduced prices pursuant to Revised Code Section 125.04. He wrote to the Office of Cooperative Purchasing and received information about the program and application requirements, one of which was a fee of $125. The fee was paid my check. We were informed by phone that the program was, indeed, for public schools, but we were "not public" enough. As if this was not hurtful enough, our $125 check was cashed, but a reimbursement was never received. This refusal added another financial blow to our severely depressed financial structure and prevented our being able to benefit from the perquisites other "more" public schools enjoy. This was not the last time we as a community school have experienced the sentence of "not being public" and deserving enough when it comes to preferences granted to traditional public schools and respect from the "more" public educational establishment. Cases in point are the treatment we have endured from the Akron City School District, the news media, and the professional educational organizations who are currently suing all community (charter) schools in the state as well as the State Department of Education for having chartered us.
The Academy's plan to have two teachers in each class of 15 students on average -- a certified teacher and an assistant teacher -- was also thwarted due to funds being usurped by nuisance obstacles being placed in our way. Or our inability to enroll and retain sufficient numbers of students to afford placing two (2) teachers in each class. We were further debilitated by another unanticipated challenge. We had naively expected to hire two certified teachers who were already working with the Academy's team of developers. However, these teachers were already too well vested in their positions. This was also true for other teachers who were either vested or fearful of joining a fledgling educational operation. Our lack of a track record of longevity and the negative Inferences found in the print media did not help. We attempted to impress on those we attempted to recruit that they shouldn't fear losing their positions with not only the Akron School District but any school district in Ohio. Nor should they fear taking a position with a fledgling educational establishment. The Revised Code assured them that their positions with the district were protected should they want to return to the District. Indeed, we handed out the following excerpts based on the Revised Code as printed in the "Community Schools in Ohio Resource Guide," developed by ODE in January 1998:
"Pursuant to section 3319.301 of the Revised Code: Public school employees can be part of the developing group
seeking to establish a community school. Further, teaching and non-teaching employees of a public school district
can request a leave of absence of up to three years from a district board of education in order to work in a public
community school. The district must not unreasonably withhold approval for the requested leave of absence.
"A public school employee who leaves a community school during his/her leave of absence has the right to return to
employment with the district that granted the leave of absence. . . . When the leave of absence is terminated, any
seniority will be calculated to include all of the following:
• all employment by the school district prior to the leave of absence;
• all employment by the community school during the leave of absence; and
• all employment by the district after the leave of absence.
"If a school district finds that it is over-staffed as a result of teachers returning to employment upon terminating leaves
of absence to teach at community schools, the district must make reductions in force in accordance with Revised
New, i.e., first-year teachers, we surmised, were also sceptical about the sticking power of a community school. Our scepticism, however, proved to be incorrect in the beginning when it came to receiving resumes from state
certified White applicants in response to newspaper ads. Very few or, better put no African American applicants
applied who were certified.
Beginning in 2002, the Academy began receiving applications from well qualified African American and White applicants. We now believe we have demonstrated to young and older African American teachers that their teaching careers will not be thwarted at The Ida B. Wells Community Academy, Inc. Indeed, since we view ourselves as Institution Builders and our faculty and staff as partners in the enterprise, we try to impress on all members of our learning team -- Board members, administrative staff, faculty and parents -- that as the Academy grows so, too, grows their professional and future careers and, most importantly, the educational quality of our enrollees learn. Of especial importance is the Academy's intention to reform the school process in the United States. Our intention does not in any way involve putting the nation's school systems out of business, for that. would be counterproductive. Our intention, if we can become good enough, is to become in time what used to be referred to as a laboratory school. A school that is an aider and abettor for developing methodologies for the education of low and middle income youth regardless of their race, creed, color or national origin. Of course, at this time and place our immediate and intensive attention must be paid to those who are on the bottom rung of the educational system -- African American youth.
As stated in our answer to Question 12, the Academy's requirement that there be infused into the curriculum African and African American history and culture presented us with another real challenge. This challenge was addressed earlier on so we won't reiterate it here save to say the problem plagued the Academy until the 2002-2003 academic year.
Another challenge for the Academy is coming up with an effective method for inducing African American parents to take charge of the education of their children. The Academy has of course benefitted from parents' exercising their right to choose where and who will educate their child. But beyond that original act of choice we have found it difficult to entice parents to work in a meaningful way on meaningful tasks for extended periods of time. Since our opening in August 1999, we have attempted to convert the membership of our team of developers to coterie of parents participating in the management of the Academy through the Site-Based Management Council or Advisory Board. The proposed workings of the Advisory Board are presented in the Academy's ODE contract. Its structure has undergone some operational modifications made to strengthen how it was to function. That is, even though the Principal remains the person in charge of establishing the Advisory Board's program agenda, it was felt the Advisory Board should have a person charged with overseeing the board's program agenda on a day to day basis. To that end we revised the position specifications of an Assistant Teacher making her the Academy's Community Relations Coordinator whose primary responsibility was working with parents and other community residents be they business people, house wives, attorneys or laborers. Her primary emphasis was also to be the building of firm relationships with the parents of our students and in turn encouraging them to participate on the Advisory Board. This initially worked, but there was no consistency in the involvement of those who joined. As already stated, this was something we hadn't anticipated even though we intuitively, intellectually knew it might end in failure. Nevertheless, in spite of the difficulty we have to increase out work in this area, for the Academy can't teach effectively and the students can't learn as well as they should without serious and continuous parental commitment and involvement.
Another challenge for the Academy is coming up with an appropriate discipline system. During 2002 and 2003 we suspended students 113 times and these students lost 151.50 days. In a survey of faculty, many said the Academy should be more strict in disciplining students and holding their parents responsible. In our contract we stated we would develop an innovative discipline procedure. At the time we were reacting to the large numbers of African American male suspended and expelled from the Akron Public Schools at all grade levels. Correcting the problem was, is a huge undertaking. Suspending and expelling students was counterproductive in that it was a zero sum game. Removing students from their classes has consequences the Academy cannot afford, that is, the students we are committed to educate lose precious and scarce learning time; if students are sent home their parents become upset because of babysitting costs or loss of a work day or more; and parents may as a result of the suspension withdraw the student. Our position in this matter was two fold: first, our students needed to be in school not at home where no learning activity would be conducted. Moreover, suspensions (we have never expelled a student) would be counterproductive and ultimately, our relations with the community we serve would suffer. We were correct in 1999 proposing that we would develop a discipline process that would be student centered, but we needed to better inform ourselves. Fortunately, we had already decided to use the Rossi-Montgomery "Conceptual Framework" and their work on school reform as a guide. From our reading we also learned that discipline was a problem throughout the state and the nation. In terms of this situation, we have decided to survey other community schools in Ohio or elsewhere in the country to learn how they are dealing with the problem. We also learned there were no sure shot methods we can employ. Our first internal corrective action was to meet with teachers and receive first hand information on the in-class nature of the problem. Their suggestions on how best to handle the situation was in-school suspension as perhaps the best alternative to sending students home for one, two, or three days or more in some worse case scenarios.
In the winter of 2002, we followed up on the former Principal's recommendation to hire a full-time person to handle the disciplining of students and the in-school suspension class. That recommendation is now in process. We also retained Mr. Kevin Hockett who is employed by the Kent City Public School District and conducts their In-school Suspension Program, as an in-service workshop leader. The methods Mr. Hockett introduced the faculty to in a two two-hour workshops were not grade or age specific. He mentioned that it was important for the teachers to deal with all discipline problems in class first and send only those who were deemed incorrigible to in-school suspension, being certain also to send the class work the student would be responsible for studying or completing. In-school suspensions, and suspensions/expulsions in general are resorted to when nothing else will seemingly work. From Mr. Hockett's workshops the teachers came away with an understanding of how they could work better with troublesome students. But that certainly was not enough. The next school year -- 2003-2004 -- some faculty members, who were experiencing problems managing their classes, were asked to a to attend a MEO/SERRC workshop on classroom management. This academic year will emphasize classroom management and the development of a reliable and effective discipline procedure.
THE ACADEMY'S EVIDENTIARY DOCUMENTATION
A Table of Documents
Questions 1 and 2: Clearly define your most significant academic strengths and areas of improvement, including the Ohio Proficiency Tests and non-proficiency teacher generated academic assessment results, over the last four years. Describe the documentation used to measure, analyze and respond to information about student academic progress
b. 2000-2001 includes Attachments
c. 2002-2003 includes Appendices
a. Iowa Basic Skills Test Data: Pre-test 1999 and Post-test 2000
b. CAT -5 Test results for 2001
c. Terra Nova Test Results for 9/04/2002 and for 5/12/2003
EMAILS SENT TO BOARD MEMBERS AND FACULTY AND STAFF
I. From DOE: Paige Announces Teaching American History Grants (uscharterschools(cDwested.orq) Sent on May 8,
II. From: Rethinking Schools Updates Its "War on Iraq" Collection (www.rethinkinqschools.orq) Sent on May 1, 2003.
Ill. From DOE: Paige, Senior Officials Celebrate Charter Schools Week. Sent on April 30, 2003. (uscharterschools (cwested.orq)
IV. From Steve Ramsey: Ohio Charter Schools Association, "No Child Left Behind Desktop Reference Manual." (Copies of
the publication are available free of charge by calling 1-877-4ED-PUBS or online at
http://www.ed.gov/pubs/edpubs.html). Sent on October 30, 2002.
V. New American Schools -- Charter Schools and the New Federal Accountability Provisions (Can be accessed by visiting
http://www.naschools.orq. A hard copy of this document is attached with other evidentiary documents above. Sent on
September 26, 2002.
Question 4: How does your instructional delivery system promote student achievement?
For More Information
Call: 330.867.1085 FAX: 330.867.1074
Ms. Angela M Anderson, Chief
Dr. Edward W. Crosby, Founder
The Ida B.
Wells Community Academy
1180 Slosson Street
Akron, Ohio 44320-2730
Contact us at:
For comprehensive information, visit the Academy's Official Web Site at:
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