Last week, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation released a report detailing the practices of Uncommon Schools, the winner of the 2013 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools. Uncommon Schools is network of 38 charter schools that provides a college preparatory program to low-income and minority students in New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. According to the report, a defining feature of the Uncommon Schools program is its emphasis on a rigorous curriculum for all students, frequent assessments, and sophisticated analysis of student data.
Administrators quoted in the report explain that while Uncommon Schools have historically outperformed other schools that serve similar student populations, the implementation of the CCSS has raised the bar and fewer Uncommon students are scoring at proficient and advanced levels on standardized tests. “[The] Common Core is changing a lot of things,” explains an administrator quoted in the report. “It’s really bringing us together.”
Prior to the CCSS, Uncommon Schools in each region developed their own school curricula and interim assessments aligned to individual state standards. With CCSS, however, schools have come together to develop network-wide curriculums, lesson plans, and assessments aligned to the new standards. A centralized team analyzes student data and provides campus- and teacher-specific feedback and reports to administrators on individual campuses. Reports focus on a few areas for improvement rather than “a laundry list of things to fix.” In this way, teachers and school leaders are able to target their efforts on what needs to be “retaught or taught differently.”
See the video below to learn more about Uncommon Schools.