The Florida State Department of Education has released its 2016-17 ratings for all of the public schools in the state, and five of the six EdisonLearning/Mavericks schools received the highest or mid-range ratings.
Unlike many other states, Florida law provides specific school improvement ratings for alternative schools that provide dropout prevention and academic intervention services. Instead of a standard letter grade, alternative schools may elect to receive a school improvement rating in lieu of a grade. The school improvement rating identifies schools as having one of the following ratings defined according to rules of the State Board of Education: “Commendable”, “Improving”, “Maintaining”, “Declining”, and “Unsatisfactory”.
The school improvement ratings are based on learning gains comparisons between the current and prior year. The percentage of students making learning gains at the school are compared to the percentage of students (from the same population) making learning gains in the prior year.
Andrews High School in Pompano Beach, Chambers High School in Homestead, and Main Street High School in Kissimmee all received the highest rating of “Commendable”. Mavericks High in North Miami, and Mavericks High in Palm Springs both received a rating of “Maintaining”.
Throughout EdisonLearning’s school network, there were 11 Graduation Ceremonies over the past month, representing 14 schools, and more than 1,000 high school diplomas were awarded. Congratulations to all of the members of the Class of 2017.
EdisonLearning Alternative Learning Programs Have Now Produced More Than 2,500 High School Graduates
Since EdisonLearning opened Bridgescape Academies in Ohio in 2011; the company’s alternative learning program has grown and resulted in more than 2,500 students earning their high school diplomas in six states.
Just as important as the total number of graduates, has been the progressive rise in the overall yearly graduation rate.
The 10 Graduation events, which will conclude this weekend in Dayton, have awarded 639 high school diplomas (nearly double previous year numbers) in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, as well at six locations in Florida.
As was stated in 2011, when the Bridgescape program was created:
“With the number one predictor of success in life being a high school diploma, EdisonLearning is accelerating its efforts to provide an effective and personalized program for those students who want to graduate from high school. The leading international educational solutions provider’s Bridgescape Dropout Recovery and Prevention Centers will provide at-risk and recently dropped-out high school students the chance to earn diplomas.”
Six years later, it is clear that the company is “advancing our belief that every student – given the right tools, support and environment – is capable of exceeding their expectations, and complete their high school education, giving them the ability to continue onto college, attend vocational school, or enter the workforce.”
On Friday, June 2, the 201 graduates of Main Street High/Mavericks in Kissimmee, FL; as well as family, and friends were the beneficiaries of a powerful and inspirational address by school alum – Christian Sanchez. His candid assessment of his life, prior to attending Main Street High, and how he has influenced by the school’s teachers and staff, is a strong testament to the work being done in Florida, and in all of our Bridgescape Academies.
The following is the text of Christian’s remarks to the graduates.
When I arrived at Main Street High, my life changed. I went from being a lost, punk kid, to a young man with hope for a successful and happy future. I grew up being labeled a troublemaker, being told I’d never succeed. But I’ve learned that nothing is impossible and that God has a purpose for each of our lives.
As a young teenager, I used to roam around Kissimmee with groups of friends, doing nothing productive, wondering what my purpose in life was. I first arrived at this school with a 1.8 GPA, 8 or 9 credits, and even a criminal background. I was 15 years old . . . My previous school asked me to leave, because of a pending felony charge. I was a depressed teenager and I felt like a failure, like a lost cause—I felt like a reject.
But then something happened… I came to Main Street High looking for a second chance at life. I had recently given my life to Christ at the age of 15, and I was determined to prove the world wrong, that I was no longer a lost cause—and that even a punk kid like me, with a bit of low self-esteem and a weird personality; even a punk kid like me could become a world changer, so help me God. And Main Street High did give me a second chance.
Main Street High is unique. This school gave me a clean slate and opportunities that no one else would give me. The faculty never saw me as just another number; they showed love to me and never judged me for my past. I felt like family here. I could walk into the guidance counselor’s office at any time, Ms. Heather Greene at the time, and bug her to death for anything I needed. And I knew without a doubt that if I needed help with a class, I could just go to Blue Room and bug Mr. Bodner. I knew for sure that he would teach me anything I needed to learn. I thank God for bringing me to this school, where a punk kid like me could find hope for the future, and a new beginning.
Here’s some of what the school allowed me to achieve: In my first year at Main Street High, I finished 11 classes. I went from troublemaker to honor-roll student. This school put me through the dual enrollment program, where my first semester of college was paid in full. I went from arriving at Main Street High with 9 credits, a 1.8 GPA, and a criminal background at 15 years old, to graduating from Main Street High with a 3.5 GPA with honors, and some college credits just before I turned 17. No one else believed in me, but Main Street High did.
This alone was a miracle to me. But it wasn’t just about graduating high school; Main Street High opened doors for me even after graduation. This school opened doors for the future. I went on to join the honors program at Valencia College, for a full scholarship towards my Associates Degree, and was also involved in Student Government, and an academic honors society. Just after graduating from Main Street High, I completed a summer internship with a local congressman, despite my earlier juvenile record. Within a year of graduating from Main Street High, I received personal recognition from the Governor of Florida. In a televised press release at Valencia, the Governor shared some of my story. I went on to obtain my Associates Degree with honors and a 4.0 GPA. I also gained a transfer scholarship to Harvard University’s Extension School where I’m currently enrolled and finishing my Bachelor’s degree. I’m studying government and finance, and I’m pursuing law school and my own investment firm in the near future.
It still blows my mind that a young kid with my background would even be considered for the opportunities I’ve been given, much of which I owe to Main Street High. But school is just one part of my story. . . Ever since my life changed when I was 15, I’ve been involved in the youth ministry at The Rock Church. The people here have showed me love and guidance throughout my journey, and even when the world called me a reject, this church treated me like a son. I’m 19 now and I know that nothing is impossible with God.
No matter where we’ve come from, what mistakes we’ve made, I know God has a plan and a purpose for us.
On June 6, 112 graduates received their high school diplomas from Palm Beach Central High/Mavericks; and on June 7, another 91 graduates will receive their diplomas from North Miami Mavericks.
Upon the conclusion of the American Revolution, our newly independent nation began to place an emphasis on public education; and by 1870, every state had free elementary schools, and the United States had one of the highest literacy rates in the world. However, it was not until the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that the doors of every public school in our country were opened to all students, regardless of their race or socio-economic circumstances.
Historically, we have seen that change has not often come quickly to our public education system. Local school boards, that generally control the funding and operations, hold firm to the belief that they know what is best for the children in their communities. Yet, in the late 1980’s, many prominent and respected educators and public officials called for the reform of the public schools by establishing "charter schools" or "schools of choice”; and in 1991, Minnesota became the first state to pass a charter school law.
This week, as we mark “National Charter Schools Week”, 3 million students attend more than 6,800 charter schools in 43 states. The vast majority of these students are economically disadvantaged and racial or ethnic minorities.
Volumes of research data show that charter students are learning more than they would have had they stayed in their traditional public schools. But just as important, traditional public schools - faced with competition from charters - have embraced many of the innovative approaches being advanced in charters, and have improved as well.
From the advent of the charter school movement, there is no organization – be it for-profit or non-profit – that has played a more significant role in advancing distinctive and innovative charter schools than EdisonLearning. In fact, since 1995, EdisonLearning has helped to educate more charter school students than any other for-profit of not-for-profit organization in the nation.
In addition to education and administrative services we have provided to our 80 charter school partners, we also raised hundreds of millions of dollars of private capital that enabled dozens of charter schools nationwide to build or acquire facilities, books, computers, and get off the ground.
Our portfolio of charter schools includes some of the most successful, such as:
- San Jose-Edison Academy, West Covina, CA – a National Blue Ribbon School
- Charles R. Drew Charter, Atlanta, GA – the first charter in Atlanta, and Georgia Charter School of the Year
- Duluth Edison Charter Academy, Duluth, MN - consistently among the highest performing schools in the state – and has been recognized as a Minnesota Celebration School
- Charter School for Applied Technologies (CSAT), Buffalo, NY – the largest charter school in New York
- Renaissance Academy, Phoenixville, PA – named National Charter School of the Year
- Friendship Academy, Washington, DC – Highest performing charter in DC
These represent just of few of the charter schools nationwide for which EdisonLearning helped to establish a solid educational model and learning culture that would be sustained over many years. Throughout our history, our purpose has not been to develop charter relationships that run indefinitely, but to guide charter schools onto a path of self-sufficiency. As Donald Hense, head of the Friendship Academies stated, EdisonLearning “gave us the wings to fly on our own.”
As public education continues to adjust to economic and competitive realities, our organization remains steadfast in our support of the charter school movement in this country; just as we are also proud of the work we do with our district school partners.
We have always been committed to forging strong partnerships that transform students’ lives, transform their schools and uplift communities. With the continued dedication of our entire team, we will continue to do so for years to come.