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Getting ready for The Academy

Submitted by on 1, March 9, 2010 – 6:00 amNo Comment

By Stacy Lawrence

At today’s Board of Education meeting, Alameda Unified School District officials will provide an update on The Academy of Alameda Middle School. That’s the charter school approved by the School Board late last year as a replacement for Chipman Middle School, and it will open this fall.

Due to the mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind, Chipman Middle had to close, fire 90 percent of its teachers and administrators or become a charter school.

Chipman employees will have the opportunity to apply for a position at the new school, with teacher applications accepted at the end of March and interviews starting in mid-April, Lori MacDonald, a reform coach working to craft the new school, told The Island.

Enrollment has already started, with 446 students enrolled so far, according to the district staff presentation for tonight’s board meeting. MacDonald said the school is targeting 600 students; the current Chipman enrollment is 539 students.

So far, 294 of the former Chipman students who will be in seventh and eighth grades next year have signed up for The Academy. MacDonald said that students who previously would have attended Chipman need to actively enroll in The Academy; otherwise the district will contact parents with an assignment at an AUSD school.

Alameda Unified recommends changing the current Chipman boundaries to become part of the Wood Middle School attendance zone. Wood can accept up to 180 more students without “additional structural changes,” according to the presentation. In addition, it suggests centralizing courses for non-English proficient students at Wood Middle School.

The Academy will focus on school-wide learning, in which “all the teachers become responsible for all the students,” MacDonald said. Together, teachers will be constantly evaluating student data to challenge those students who are already meeting standards and to aid those who aren’t proficient.

For students, there would be a lot of transparency to the testing process; they would “know what the learning objectives are, what mastery looks like and the steps necessary to attain mastery,” MacDonald concluded.

The Academy is open to enrollment for all California students, but MacDonald said if enrollment were full the school could put in place some stipulations for siblings and current students and could give Alameda students preference in the event of a lottery.

The public meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. today in Council Chambers at City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.

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