Program proof charter, public schools can work together

'So many children live in districts that are failing'

By Marc Mainville
Contributing Writer
Christine Alves is the driving force behind a program at The Learning Community charter school in Central Falls that has created a partnership between charter- and public-school teachers in the community. The program is designed to improve reading skills among children in kindergarten through grade 2. Its early success has drawn the attention of educators and media from around the country. More

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Program proof charter, public schools can work together

'So many children live in districts that are failing'

PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
WILLING PARTNER: The Learning Community’s Christine Alves is working with public-school teachers to improve reading skills.
By Marc Mainville
Contributing Writer
Posted 3/26/12

PBN: The partnership created between The Learning Community and Central Falls public schools has really raised the profile of your nonprofit school. How does this partnership work?

ALVES: The partnership has four main components and I think part of the reason why it works so well is that it is comprehensive. It’s not just one major slice of work we are doing but four pieces. We have grade-specific professional development, not just whole-school workshops that other professional-development organizations might put out. Our trainings are grade-level specific. So all the first-grade teachers go to a first-grade teacher workshop that is very targeted and actually ends up being more effective.

The second part is we also go deeper than those workshops. We do coaching, so we are helping teachers in Central Falls implement the things we’re training in the workshops. We go into the classrooms and the teacher gets to choose whether they want the consulting teacher to run a lesson for the students, or simply watch as they give the lesson.

The third part is we’ve implemented quarterly assessments in Central Falls. … We are making sure we have data that’s going to give us information about what should be the next steps in our initiative.

The fourth part is the safety net. It’s a way to capture the students who are falling further below and get them up to speed.

PBN: What methods do you use to provide that safety net?

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