Diverse Charter Schools Coalition Recognizes Three Member Schools

Blackstone Valley Prep, Valor Collegiate, and the International School of Louisiana Receive the Coalition’s Inaugural Awards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Diverse Charter Schools Coalition Board, members, staff, and partners honored Blackstone Valley Prep as School of the Year for best exemplifying the Coalition’s values. The Coalition also awarded Valor Collegiate as the Best Newcomer School and the International School of Louisiana with the Achievement Gap Award for demonstrating exceptional commitment to successfully closing achievement gaps. The inaugural awards were presented during the DCSC Annual Convening on Sunday June 11th.

Blackstone Valley Prep, School of the Year, a founding member of the Coalition, brings together nearly 1600 scholars from across four different Rhode Island communities to create a racially and socio-economically diverse student population. BVP’s demonstration of values of the Coalition is perhaps best exemplified by their continuous work to live out practices that best support their diverse by design model. “We work with all of our teachers to lead culturally responsive classrooms, and ask them to examine their own predisposed biases, judgments and look for opportunities to encourage scholars to do the same as part of their own learning,” shared Executive Director Jeremy Chiappetta. BVP’s academic data continues to show that their scholars are meeting or exceeding annual benchmarks and gaps are closing. Scholars surpassed the Rhode Island state PARCC averages in the 2015-16 school year in both reading and math for every grade tested and in every reported subgroup and are on track to do the same for the 2016-17 academic year.

Valor Collegiate, the Best Newcomer, was founded in 2015 and is the first free, public college preparatory charter school in Nashville to serve a truly diverse background of students. Valor is the only school in Tennessee, district or charter, to be ranked in the top 1% for overall student achievement and student growth from out of 1700+ schools in the state. More notably, Valor’s achievement and growth were consistent across diverse subgroups of non-economically disadvantaged, economically disadvantaged, English language learners and students with disabilities. Through “Compass,” a socio-emotional learning model that teaches scholars, families, and teachers how to make the most of diverse relationships, Valor will “Over the next three years, amplify our impact, and share and learn alongside other schools who plan to incorporate the Compass SEL program into their schools.” said CEO Todd Dickson.

The International School of Louisiana (ISL), receiving the Achievement Gap Award, was founded in 2000 by a group of parents who envisioned a public school offering a foreign language-based academic program with a global perspective. Students are taught core academic subjects in either French or Spanish through everyday conversation and classroom instruction learn a second language naturally. Their unique school model has produced achievement gap-closing results. In both the 2014-15 and the 2015-2016 school years, ISL has had a greater percentage of its minority and economically disadvantaged students scoring at “Mastery or above” than the district of New Orleans or the state. Within the school, almost two-thirds of ISL students qualify for free and reduced lunch and yet students have an average of 92% in Basic or Above on the Louisiana Educational Assessment Program assessment. Head of School Melanie Tennyson attributes their academic success to ISL’s language immersion curriculum but also to their restorative practices. “Our partnership with the Center for Restorative Approaches has helped us reduce our suspension rate to about 0.04%, helping us create a positive school culture and ensuring all our kids are in school learning.”

“I want to congratulate our three member schools for their commitment to excellence and exemplifying what is possible through a diverse-by-design school model,” said the Coalition’s Executive Director Sonia Park. “They have done extraordinary, thoughtful work in their approach to diversity. ”


About the Coalition:

The Diverse Charter Schools Coalition is a charter advocacy and membership group that seeks to support the creation and expansion of high-quality, racially and economically diverse public charter schools. Founded in summer 2014, the coalition has grown from 14 founding charter schools and networks to include more than 100 member schools located in 14 different states and the District of Columbia. For more information please see our website http://www.diversecharters.org, or contact the coalition by email at info@diversecharters.org