Newark Technology in Education Examiner
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Two, new public charter high schools in Newark, New Jersey, will combine adaptive online learning and face-to-face instruction in the 2012-2013 school year. Both Newark Prep and Spirit Prep, public charter schools approved by the New Jersey Department of Education, will offer ninth grade in their first year. Both schools will add the remaining, high school grades in subsequent years. The schools, each governed by an independent, nonprofit school board led by local educators and community leaders, will share a facility located in Newark at 570 Broad Street.
Academic individualization emphasized
Blended learning will be deployed by Newark Prep and Spirit Prep, and academic individualization is designed to be a hallmark of both schools. Blended learning turns the typical school environment on its head. Rather than a “one size fits all” program of distinct periods and bells, these blended schools will offer students flexible block scheduling and engaging project-based learning activities, both online and in a classroom setting.
Daily onsite attendance
Flexibility in blended learning is deployed to maximize students’ unique skills and styles of learning. Students still will attend school onsite every day. However, each school will structure schedules, so students are able to progress at their own pace and receive the enrichment or remediation they need.
K12 Inc. curriculum
EdNET Insight has named K12 Inc. as a leading provider of online programs to school districts. K12′s innovative blended learning programs are used in public charter schools and school districts in cities throughout the country, including Chicago, San Francisco, and Indianapolis. Over 2,000 public schools and public school districts across the country use K12′s courses, assessments, and instructional services in online and blended schools, and traditional classrooms. Their K12 curriculum was named a 2011 top product award winner in District Administration.
Both Newark Prep and Spirit Prep will use curriculum and school services provided by K12 Inc., the nation’s largest provider of K-12 online learning programs. Darren Reed, Vice President of Blended Schools at K12 Inc. states, “K12 is excited to provide our high quality curriculum and instructional services to Newark Prep and Spirit Prep. Through blended learning, teachers and educators are finding new ways to better personalize instruction, and help students engage, learn, and succeed.”
Adrianna Meherji, President of the Newark Prep Board of Trustees, indicates, “Newark Prep’s blended learning model will offer families the best education has to offer today: face-to-face instruction and online learning. Our students will have the flexibility of a truly personalized education, thus providing them access to the best educational resources, especially teachers who are focused on small groups of students rather than whole-class instruction. It’s a model that looks a lot like the way higher education and workplace training are currently structured. Blended learning will give Newark Prep students the edge to succeed.”
Newark Prep Charter School’s mission is to prepare students to be college and career ready young adults. Students will take courses in core subjects and have access to multiple high school electives, including honors and Advanced Placement courses. Students will also participate in engaging learning opportunities, both online and offline, and receive intensive one-on-one support from teachers, advisors, and counselors. Students who reside in Newark are eligible to enroll in the school.
Harold Wright, President of the Spirit Prep Charter School Board of Trustees asserts, “So many kids want to learn a musical instrument, but seats in the excellent music magnet schools are too few to serve all those who want the opportunity. The Spirit Prep mission is an important step in helping fulfill that need. We are a public high school option dedicated to providing any student with a first class, blended learning experience in a school environment that is permeated with music. Spirit Prep is a school where every student has the chance to pursue their love of music.”
Spirit Prep Charter School is designed for students, who are passionate about music and the performing arts. The school will offer a rigorous education program combined with a focus on music. Spirit Prep students will study a musical instrument and are expected to perform as part of the school’s regular and extracurricular offerings. Students, who reside in Newark, East Orange, and Irvington, are eligible to enroll in Spirit Prep.
Charter schools play an integral role in Governor Chris Christie’s education reform initiatives. The state will receive nearly $14.5 million through the federal Charter Schools Program to strengthen the quality of charter school options in New Jersey.
Governor Chris Christie indicates, “We have and will continue to support the expansion of high-quality charter schools as one way to ensure that all students have great educational options available to them. Every student in New Jersey deserves a choice of where they attend school, not only to ensure that no child is assigned to a failing school, but also so that families can select a school that gives their child the best opportunity for success.”
The nature of successful innovation requires experimentation tied to high standards and accountability. It requires discovery and creation. Both Albert Einstein and John Dewey spoke to the nature of innovation. Dewey stated, “Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination. Albert Einstein echoed that sentiment, stating, “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires a creative imagination and marks the real advances in science.” Successful education reform in the 21st century will require hard work, preservation of proven strategies, the vigilance of accountability, and the courageous audacity of innovation.