Laying Some Groundwork: What’s Going on at ACE

Dear Evin, we can save the debate over the merits of Core Knowledge or Balanced Literacy for a little later on. What I’m more interested in kicking our blog off with is some discussion about where we’re at – what’s going on at ACE and Chinook.

Maybe we could start by telling each other a little about our schools. But bear with me, I can only tell you what I’ve learned over the past year and a half.

Beginning in 2006, Tyee High School was broken into three autonomous small schools under the assumption that small schools would better support students’ academic achievement. Tyee had a history of underperformance, and people felt change was needed. (Click on “Big Tyee’s” last year of OSPI data below to enlarge it.)

Staff were empowered to shape the design of the new schools. They did their homework and choose the school model they wanted.

The Academy of Citizenship and Empowerment (ACE) was founded as a member of the Coalition of Essential Schools. Social justice was its theme. You can read an interesting article by a student from the first graduating class here. It provides some insight into what the original school’s vision must have been. Student voice was valued; staff attempted to find agreement on most decisions before moving forward; and advisory was intended to be at the school’s heart.

A few years of OSPI data suggested ACE was driving student achievement in the right direction. Educators from schools across the country visited ACE as a national example of positive school reform.

Since the ’06-’07 school year, a lot has changed at ACE. There have been numerous leadership changes, and only a very small number of the staff who began with the school remain. Recent OSPI data have not been as positive as the early years. The current staff is engaged in re-framing their work under new district and building administration.

We are unique in that we offer American Sign Language, services for the deaf and hard of hearing, and AP Studio Art. We have 105-minute classes Monday through Thursday, and 43-minute classes on Friday. Advisory occurs Monday through Thursday between 1:30-2:05. Nearly all of our freshmen students are double-blocked in literacy and math, meaning they get double doses of both classes. A number of our upperclassmen take advantage of PSSC or Running Start as a means of earning early college credit.

That’s what’s going on at ACE. Is there anyone who would like to add anything?

Do you have any questions? And can you tell me a little about Chinook?