Evergreen Community Charter School

SCHOOL PROFILE 2014-2015

 

Table of Contents

1        Mission & Beliefs                                                                                                                       

1.2         Vision                                                                                                                                  

1.3         Core Beliefs of the Evergreen Learning Community                                                           

1.4         Mission Statement                                                                                                               

1.5         School Design and the Guidelines of Our Charter                                                              

2        Students and Their Performance                                                                                                 

2.2         Student Demographics                                                                                                        

2.3         Participation in Differentiated Services                                                                                

2.4         Student Performance on State and Local Tests                                                                    

2.5         Student Growth on Interim Standardized Testing                                                                

2.6         Student Performance by Qualitative Measures                                                                    

3        School Effectiveness                                                                                                                   

3.2         Facilities                                                                                                                              

3.3         Highly Qualified Faculty                                                                                                     

3.4         Curriculum and Instruction                                                                                                  

3.5         Assessment and Reporting                                                                                                  

3.6         Promotion to High School                                                                                                   

3.7         Culture and Character                                                                                                          

3.8         Leadership and School Improvement                                                                                  

3.9         Finance and Accountability                                                                                                 

4        School and Community Contexts                                                                                               

4.2         Community Demographics                                                                                                  

4.3         Community Partnerships                                                                                                     

4.4         Development and Public Relations                                                                                      


 

1   Mission & Beliefs

 

1.2            Vision

 

Evergreen Community Charter School is a learning community founded in 1999 with a vision that is stated in the school’s charter:

 

Working in partnership with parents, elders, and the community, Evergreen Community Charter School offers an academically challenging, developmentally appropriate, experiential, holistic, child-centered education to all young people. We nurture a passion for learning that lasts a lifetime as we challenge our community to discover their individual gifts, to honor their inner worth, to strive for excellence, to pursue respectful and ethical relationships with themselves and others, and to find their own path of service.

 

1.3            Core Beliefs of the Evergreen Learning Community

 

Evergreen Community Charter School is an innovative educational endeavor developed and operated collaboratively by educators, parents, students, and the larger community. Our learning community is inspired by a love of children and a commitment to the greater good, both of which inform our decisions and our practice. As a school community, we share the following beliefs about teaching and learning:

We believe that the Evergreen Community should…

1.            embrace diversity as it supports children and other members in discovering their inherent self-worth and developing their individual gifts.

2.            inspire students to be self-directed learners, with the ability and desire to follow paths of inquiry, seek knowledge and understanding, think critically, communicate effectively, act creatively and responsibly.

3.            foster understanding of, respect for, and responsibility toward the natural world.

4.            encourage students to take risks in setting and achieving goals, to strive for their personal best, and to make healthy choices.

5.            nurture the development of caring and compassionate community members through self-reflection, service to others, relationship building, and collaboration.

6.            provide a safe environment and small learning groups that invite children to become integral members of the classroom where caring adults and peer mentors help to ensure the progress of each child.

7.            challenge students to make meaningful connections and grasp the big picture through a hands-on, project-based, integrated curriculum that fosters motivation and responsibility for learning.

 

 

1.4            Mission Statement

 

Evergreen Community Charter School is a learning community committed to the pursuit of excellence in holistic education of mind, body, and spirit. We prepare students for successful lifelong learning, social responsibility, environmental stewardship, and service. We value the voice of every member of our community.

 

1.5            School Design and the Guidelines of Our Charter

 

In 2005, Evergreen adapted the EL (Expeditionary Learning) educational model, which fosters high achievement through integrated, experiential learning and teamwork. Teachers design and implement challenging real-world “expeditions” that teach the North Carolina Standard Course of Study mandated by our Charter. Students investigate a broad topic that integrates big ideas and 21st century skills from several subject areas. While the expedition topic is often driven by science or social studies content, it integrates literacy and math skills as well as arts, technology, adventure, and service learning. Expeditions incorporate fieldwork, community partnerships, and local experts who invite students to answer relevant questions about the environment, culture, politics, and economics of local and global communities. Expeditions facilitate a sense of place and stewardship through environmental education and service learning components. In the spring of 2013, Evergreen was invited to become an EL Mentor School because of our deep implantation of EL core practices. Evergreen’s goal is to enable students to exceed North Carolina’s grade level standards and to become life-long learners prepared to embrace the challenges of the 21st century with skills that include critical and creative thinking, strong written and verbal communication, information literacy, collaboration, flexibility, leadership, and responsibility.

                                                    

(For more information about Expeditionary Learning Schools, go to www.elschools.org.)

 

2   Students and Their Performance

 

2.2            Student Demographics

 

The enrollment in 2014-2015 for Evergreen Community Charter School is 444 students in grades K-8, 47% of whom are female and 53% of whom are male. Our minority population is 11%.

 

Enrollment data for 2014-2015 school year indicated that 31% of our students are coming from Asheville City School district and 69% from the Buncombe County School district. Forty-three percent of the students new to Evergreen this year are incoming kindergarteners.

 

Forty-one percent of Evergreen students come from families that report incomes at the free or reduced lunch schedule (as established by federal guidelines).

 

2.3            Participation in Differentiated Services

The Exceptional Children’s Program had an identified population of 69 students, which is 16% of our total population (based on April Child Count). We had no English Language Learners. Academically gifted students were served in our Program for Advanced Learners (PAL) along with other advanced students not formally identified as AIG.  In 2014-15 there are 73 students served in PAL in grades 3-8 which is 24% of that population.

 

Approximately 47 students in grades K-8 were provided with supplemental tutoring through our Title I program. Limited Title I tutoring is available for middle school students. Title 1 tutoring held morning computer sessions for 14 students in the technology lab 2-3 days per week.

2.4            Student Performance on State and Local Tests

 

Standardized tests: Federal legislation and North Carolina’s Accountability Program require all public and charter schools to participate in the state’s testing and accountability program. Although Evergreen’s program is not “test-driven,” standardized testing is one of many measures of student progress by which we measure our effectiveness as a school.  Regularly administered tests include the North Carolina beginning-of-grade test in English language arts and reading in third grade and end-of-grade (EOG) tests in reading and math given once per year in third through eighth grade, the EOG science test administered in fifth and eighth grade, and the Algebra I End-of-Course test given to students who complete the Algebra course. As of spring 2015, students with IEPs who participate in the standard course of study also participate in the same EOG tests as the general education population.

 

Two different measures are involved in meeting state and federal guidelines:

1.     The percentage of students who are performing at grade level (demonstrated by scoring at Levels III, IV, and V on the tests). Both whole-school performance as well as sub-group performance is measured; and

2.     The amount of growth demonstrated by student scores from year to year.

 

Student learning as evidenced on these assessments is analyzed in annual professional development/work days by grade-level teams as well as by the School Improvement Team during the annual SIT Retreat. School administrators review the assessment results as soon as they are made available to determine if changes in programming, assignment, or focus need to be made.

 

In recent history, Evergreen moved from being a “School of Progress” (2007-2008) to a “School of Distinction” (2008-2009) to an “Honor School of Excellence” (2009-2010, 2010-2011, and 2011-2012). In 2012-2013, with the implementation of Common Core and more rigorous end-of-grade assessments, schools across the country and NC saw dramatic drops in achievement percentages. Evergreen also saw drops in the percentages of students scoring at or above grade level. However, our school exceeded expected growth in most subgroups and continued to achieve performance levels surpassing local district schools, other local charter schools, and the state composite. MAP proficiency scores, which serve as predictors for student performance on EOGs, showed that in 2014-2015, 85% of students were at or above proficiency in reading and 64% were at or above proficiency in math. 

 

 

End-of-Grade Test Trend Data

 

In the tables below, NC End-of-Grade (EOG) test results are shown for the past five years. The new EOG was introduced in 2012-13 and, in 2014-15, the Extend II test was eliminated and more students in the Exceptional Children program were included in overall test averages. Generally, high percentages of Evergreen students are at or above proficiency on measures of reading, math and science. With our school’s strong emphasis on NOT teaching to the test, our test scores are testament to the deep learning that is occurring with authentic project-based instruction. Third graders generally tend to do less well than other grades on the EOGs. This could be due to the fact that it is the first year they are taking standardized tests and have not had experience or training in the test format or test-taking skills. This could also be influenced by the rigor of the curriculum in the primary grades. However, analysis of curriculum standards and reading expectations in K-2 in recent years showed that our students were being held to higher expectations than the state recommended so we do not believe there is a lack of rigor in K-2. Another trend of note is that eighth grade math scores are relatively weaker than eighth graders in Algebra I. This is primarily due to how we assign students to math classes. Since we pull our stronger math students into Math I, 8th grade math class is less heterogeneous and will likely perform less well than a more heterogeneous class would.

 

Percentage of Students at or above Proficiency in Reading

 

 

 

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

New EOG

2013-14

2014-15

No Extend II

 

 

 

Overall

93.9

94.6

76.7

81

80

 

 

 

3rd Grade

86.4

>95

70

86

70

 

 

 

4th Grade

93.2

>95

88.1

68

79

 

 

 

5th Grade

>95

89.4

90

87

68

 

 

 

6th Grade

>95

>95

85

74

90

 

 

 

7th Grade

93.6

>95

84.8

85

90

 

 

 

8th Grade

>95

93.8

80.4

76

80

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Percentage of Students at or above Proficiency in Math

 

 

 

2010-2011

2011-2012

2012-2013

New EOG

2013-14

2014-15

No Extend II

 

 

 

Overall

>95

>95

58.2

65

63

 

 

 

3rd Grade

88.6

>95

45.2

71

60

 

 

 

4th Grade

>95

>95

83.7

55

68

 

 

 

5th Grade

>95

>95

72.1

90

59

 

 

 

6th Grade

>95

>95

63.4

61

59

 

 

 

7th Grade

93.6

>95

48.9

54

70

 

 

 

8th Grade

>95

>95

57.8

51

60

 

 

 

Algebra I

>95

>95

85.7

73

86

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Percentage of Students at or above Proficiency in Science

 

 

 

2010-2011

2011-2012

2012-2013

New EOG

2013-14

2014-15

No Extend II

 

 

 

5th Grade

91.7

93.6

82.5

90

63

 

 

 

8th Grade

>95

>95

93.5

98

86

 

 

 

 

Disaggregated EOG Data

 

Evergreen has only a small number of students in many of the sub-groups so an analysis of disaggregated scores is limited to student groups of male, female, economically disadvantaged (E.D.) and students with disabilities (SWD). Males and females perform similarly on all measures. Economically disadvantaged students (who comprise 35-47% of our student body) perform similarly with non-economically disadvantaged. Students with disabilities (who comprise 15-18% of our student body) do not score as well on EOGs; however, their performance has increased significantly over the years and we are closing that gap. It will be important to watch the trend of performance of students with disabilities on future administrations of the more rigorous state tests, noting that NC eliminated the Extend II in the 2014-2015 school year (Extend II is a modified test for certain students with disabilities.)

 

Percentage of Students in Sub-Groups Who Passed BOTH Reading and Math

 

 

2010-2011

2011-2012

2012-2013

New EOG

2013-14

2014-15

No Extend II

 

 

 

E.D.

91.3

91.7

63.4

 

 

 

 

 

SWD

76.2

82.8

38.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Percentage of Students in Sub-Groups Who Passed Science

 

 

 

2010-2011

2011-2012

2012-2013

New EOG

2013-14

2014-15

No Extend II

 

 

 

E.D.

92.3

>95

 87.2

 

 

 

 

 

SWD

88.9

>95

 70.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

EOG Comparisons across Schools

 

Evergreen has consistently and significantly outperformed on EOG assessments as compared to neighboring district schools, charter schools and the state composite. As mentioned above, schools across the state saw significant decreases in proficiency rates on the 2012-2013 EOG.  Evergreen continues to outperform other districts and schools. We will carefully monitor our students’ growth and performance, particularly in math and with our students with disabilities, as trends develop with the new assessments.

 

2013-2014 Comparisons: Percentage of Students at or above Proficiency

 

 

Evergreen

BCS

ACS

ArtSpace

F. Delany

State

Reading

81

61

66

 

 

56

Math

65

56

63

 

 

51

E.D.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SWD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BCS- Buncombe County Schools

ACS-Asheville City Schools

ArtSpace & Francine Delany- local charter schools

 

Writing Assessments

 

In September and April, students in grades 1-8 participate in a school-wide writing assessment where students independently work through the writing process on an assigned piece. Students are assessed in-house using a four-point rubric based on the 6 + 1 Traits of Writing.  The results of the assessment provide information to teachers and administrators regarding the strength of the various components of our writing programs relative to the other components (traits). It is important to note that we do not have research on what point value should be considered proficient for any of the traits assessed. In recent years, we focused school improvement efforts on improving conventions of writing.

 

Writing Assessments Summary

 

Averages across grade levels for each of the six traits of writing are summarized below. Relatively lower areas of performance by year are shown in gray. These include sentence fluency three of the four years and conventions all four years. The stronger areas by year are shown in italics. These include organization two of four years, voice all four years and word choice three of the four years. Looking at year-to-year scoring trends, there are slight increases in scores from 2010-2011 to 2011-2012 and slight decreases in scores from 2011-2012 to 2012-2013 on all traits. Interestingly, one of our school improvement goals in 2012-2013 was for students to increase skills in writing conventions (spelling, punctuation, grammar) and sentence fluency school-wide. We wonder if this focus led to a more critical view of student work and the subjectivity of the scoring was affected. Scores on all traits increased from 2012-13 to 2013-14.

 

6 Traits of Writing

2010-2011

2011-2012

2012-2013

2013-2014

Ideas

2.84

2.87

2.80

3.03

Organization

2.9

2.92

2.74

3.05

Word Choice

2.86

2.97

2.86

3.01

Voice

2.98

3.00

2.97

3.10

Sentence Fluency

2.75

2.84

2.76

2.81

Conventions

2.52

2.71

2.68

2.72

 

 

2.5            Student Growth on Interim Standardized Testing

 

Twice a year, in September and March, students take a computerized assessment called the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) in math (grades 3-8) and reading (grades 4-8). This assessment provides teachers and parents with a wealth of data about students’ understanding and progress in these areas including detailed information about concepts each student is ready to learn.

 

NWEA Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Data

 

A comparison of reading growth data between 2013-14 and 2014-15 shows an overall increase in the percentage of students meeting or exceeding expected growth. However, fewer students in grades 5 and 7 met or exceeded expected growth. The grade level cohorts show increases in the percentages with the exception of the 2014-15 5th grade cohort that saw their percentage decrease from 55% to 38%. 

 

 

Percentage of Students Making Expected Growth or More than Expected Growth in Reading

 

2010-2011

2011-2012

2012-2013

2013-2014

2014-2015

Overall

69.6%

53.0%

59.0%

46.0%

52%

2nd Grade

61.9

NA

NA

NA

NA

3rd Grade

71.4

61

76.7

NA

NA

4th Grade

68.2

57

45.5

54.5

60

5th Grade

60.4

66

70.5

41.7

38

6th Grade

81.3

47

50.0

36.2

47

7th Grade

66.7

48

57.8

53.2

47

8th Grade

76.7

60

50.0

44.4

64

 

A comparison of mathematics growth data from 2013-14 to 2014-15 shows an increase in the overall percentage of students meeting or exceeding expected growth.  However, the percentage in 2014-15 is still lower than the previous three years. The 2014-15 5th and 6th grade level cohorts show a drop in the percentages while 4th, 7th and 8th grade cohorts saw significant increases. 

 

Percentage of Students Making Expected Growth or More than Expected Growth in Mathematics

 

2010-2011

2011-2012

2012-2013

2013-2014

2014-2015

Overall

52.7%

59.0%

54.0%

45.0%

47%

2nd Grade

38.1

NA

NA

NA

NA

3rd Grade

45.5

72

65.1

45.5

33

4th Grade

47.7

55

40.9

34.1

60

5th Grade

52.1

68

46.7

59.6

30

6th Grade

72.9

61

47.8

47.8

43

7th Grade

59.5

61

60.9

45.8

61

8th Grade

51.2

31

62.5

35.6

56

 

 

Three times a year, in September, January, and May, students in grades kindergarten through 3rd take the mClass Reading 3D to assess their reading skills.  This assessment provides information to teachers about individual students’ reading fluency, accuracy, oral retell, and written comprehension responses that can be used to target reading instruction for all students. This assessment is a part of North Carolina Read to Achieve legislation passed in 2012 requiring reading proficiency for 3rd grade students.  Scores are reported as Level 1 - Well Below Benchmark; Level 2 - Below Benchmark; and Level 3 - Benchmark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End-of-year data for 2014-15 show that 78-88% of students scored at or above benchmark. In 2014-15 the percent of students meeting benchmark at the end of year increased from beginning of year percentages by 26 points in K, 8 points in 1st, and 2 points in 2nd. The percentage of 3rd graders at benchmark decreased by 3 points from the beginning of year to end of year.

 

 

2.6            Student Performance by Qualitative Measures

 

Performance-Based Assessments documented in student portfolios demonstrate the skills and concepts students should be able to competently perform for promotion to the next grade level. These assessments serve as evidence for progress reported on trimester report cards. Performance assessments and portfolios for every grade level include key components of Evergreen’s Expeditionary Learning curriculum including literacy and math, communication skills, research skills, environmental education, fieldwork, service learning, health and wellness, and an integration of the arts and physical education.

 

3   School Effectiveness

 

3.2            Facilities

 

Our 10-acre property is located in a residential neighborhood in the Haw Creek Valley. The elementary wing houses the exceptional children offices, an associate directors office, twelve K-5 classrooms, a classroom for EC resource and Title 1 services, and a neurofeedback room. The middle school wing is two stories with nine instructional areas including six classrooms, two resource classrooms, an associate directors office, a counseling office, a technology lab, a library and an environmental education lab. The library currently contains 9,927 titles including student books, teacher resources, and videos.

 

Also located in the middle school wing is an all-purpose room used as a lunchroom and meeting space. In close proximity to the main office is a two-story building which houses a tutoring room, one counseling room, and two EC classrooms. Located off the elementary wing is a large gym with a kitchen, a stage for music class and performances, and an art room.  The grounds include a soccer and recreation field, a vegetable garden, an outdoor basketball court and two playgrounds.

 

3.3            Highly Qualified Faculty

 

Evergreen has a teacher-to-student ratio of 1:11 in kindergarten, 1:12 in grades 1 through 4 and 1:13 in grade 5, with two teachers (lead and associate) in all K-5 classrooms. The middle school teacher-to-student ratio is 1:17. Maximum class size is 22 for kindergarten, 24 for grades 1-4, and 26 for grades 5-8. There are two classes per grade level.

 

For 2014-15, there are 52 instructional staff. These include:

 

_      18 Lead Classroom Teachers

_      15 Associate Classroom Teachers

_      4 Exceptional Children Teachers

_      1 Speech-Language Pathologist

_      3 Exceptional Children Associates

_      1 Title I Coordinator & Teacher

_      1 Academic Support Teacher

_      5 Enrichment Teachers

o      Technology

o      5-8 Health

o      Art

o      Adventure PE

o      Music

_      1 Environmental Education Coordinator

_      1 School Counselor

_      1 Librarian

_      1 Program for Advanced Learners Teacher

 

All of our licensed teachers hold bachelor’s degrees and 35% hold master’s degrees. All lead teachers are considered “highly qualified” by the federal government’s NCLB laws. All of our Associate and Support Teachers hold bachelor’s degrees and 13% hold master’s degrees. Eight percent of our licensed teachers hold National Board Certification. Seventy-eight percent of licensed teachers have been teaching for five years or more. At the end of the 2013-2014 school year, three teachers chose to take a one-year sabbatical.

3.4            Curriculum and Instruction

 

In pursuit of our mission and continual improvement, Evergreen’s curriculum is broad, holistic, differentiated to meet the needs of all students, and intentionally designed to cultivate 21st century skills including creative problem solving, critical thinking, global awareness, communication, information literacy, collaboration, and leadership.

 

We believe that students benefit from heterogeneous learning environments where they are encouraged to learn from and collaborate with students of different abilities, backgrounds, and interests. We also believe that students benefit from opportunities to work in smaller, flexible groups with specialized instruction that addresses particular abilities or interests. Accordingly, our differentiated services program provides both pull-out and push-in instruction; we have no self-contained special education classrooms.  Some Exceptional Children’s’ instruction and Title I tutoring services are provided through differentiation in the classroom. Other instruction is provided through small group pull-out instruction prescribed by the students’ Individualized Education Plan. Similarly, our Program for Advanced Learners (PAL) follows the Levels of Service Approach which prescribes services for most students through differentiation in the regular classroom. Some students receive direct instruction from the PAL teacher through weekly reading or math groups.  EC staff and the PAL Coordinator work collaboratively with teachers to plan instruction, assignments, and homework that accommodate the needs of all children.

 

We believe that school is a place to develop physical, social and emotional skills, as well as intellectual abilities. For this reason, all Evergreen students participate in a broad range of arts, adventure, character education, and service learning activities in the classroom, outdoors, and in the community as part of the regular school day. Students enjoy a balance of healthy play and structured, experiential learning that results in quality academic products. They are taught and expected to practice responsible, independent exploration and cooperative, teacher-directed activities.

 

Evergreen teachers practice active pedagogy as described by the Core Practices Expeditionary Learning Schools.  Teachers establish and share with students short and long-term learning targets for lessons. Students’ progress toward these targets is regularly assessed and teachers use the results of assessment to plan and revise further instruction. Students take responsibility for their learning by producing and being able to explain work that may include daily notes, learning logs, papers, tests, illustrations, cooperative activities or discussions, projects, or performances.

 

In addition, some Common Core or North Carolina Essential Standards may be taught outside of expedition through more traditional reading, math, science, or social studies lessons.

 

Literacy

Early grades provide direct reading instruction that develops students’ understanding of phonics and decoding a text as well as reading comprehension. Primary and middle students learn reading strategies for both fiction and nonfiction texts. They learn to be critical readers, and they read to learn about the topics of their expeditions and in the content areas of social studies and science.

 

Evergreen students write daily. Kindergarteners learn manuscript as their first writing system; by third grade, students have also learned to write in cursive.  Beginning in second grade, students also learn keyboarding skills as part of the technology curriculum. Students learn to write a variety of forms (stories, poems, essays, letters), and also learn through writing lists, notes, reflections, and informal responses. Clear, well-organized, purposeful writing is emphasized as a tool for effective communication and expression. Thus, students are encouraged to get their ideas on the page but also to follow the conventions of standard grammar, spelling, and punctuation that enable a reader to find meaning. Students have ample opportunities to share their writing with real audiences inside and outside the school community.

 

Both reading and writing instruction are generally taught through a workshop approach which includes mini-lessons in strategies and technique, independent practice, critique and revision conferences with both peers and teachers, and a dynamic conversation between readers and writers. Reading and writing are assessed through individual conferences and through projects, papers, and standardized tests. 

 

Mathematics

Math is taught through an inquiry-based approach. While Evergreen follows the sequence of math skills laid out in the Common Core, our emphasis is on teaching students to understand the concepts that underlie mathematical problem solving. Teachers use a variety of hands-on manipulatives and problem-solving activities—games, story problems, real-world challenges—to teach these concepts. The memorization of math facts—basic addition and multiplication tables—is an essential foundation for advancing through the math curriculum. Because math is a subject that generally requires sequential learning, beginning in third grade, math classes are differentiated by ability across the grade level.  Each grade level typically has two or three different math classes, each with its own instructor. Teachers also incorporate math instruction into expeditions as appropriate.

 

Social Studies and Science

Social Studies and Science topics are often the driving force behind expeditions. In the elementary grades, they are not taught as separate topics but rather represent the backbone of expeditions on topics such as Community Workers (K), Forces and Motions (1), Life Cycles (2), The Laws of Physics (3), North Carolina History (4) and Agriculture (5). In the middle school, social studies and science are taught as separate subjects, but teachers collaborate with each other to align and integrate their subjects under the umbrella of grade-wide expeditions.

 

Fieldwork is an important component of all expeditions. Each year, Evergreen students participate in over 200 fieldwork experiences. These trips are a way to engage students, to learn about community resources or gather information, and to tap into the knowledge of community experts. A field trip to a museum or historical site can help students make sense of what they have read and heard; trips to plays or other productions provoke dialogue and exploration of art forms and literature, and they provide motivation and inspire creativity. During these activities, students use the tools of experts in the field, find answers to their own questions, develop confidence in themselves and their abilities, and collaborate with each other through shared experiences.

 

Expeditionary Learning conducts an Implementation Review annually to determine the degree to which the school is using EL power practices. Our target score this year was 98 out of a possible 130. Our score last year was 105; this year our score was 108. The results of this assessment for 2015 are shown below. Power practices are rated from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest level of implementation. The areas on which we scored a 3 are considered areas for growth: Learning Targets, Analyzing Assessment Data. The areas on which we scored a 5 are considered areas of strength: Learning Expeditions, Supporting All Students, Culture of Reading, Culture of Writing, Supporting Planning, Assessment & Instruction, and Positive School Culture.

 

 

EXPEDITIONARY LEARNING IMPLEMENTATION REVIEW SCORES SPRING 2015

 

Dimension

Practice

Score

Curriculum

Mapping Skills & Content

4

Case Studies

4

Projects & Products

4

Learning Expeditions

5

Instruction

Effective Lessons

4

Supporting All Students

5

Reflecting & Structuring Revision

4

Culture of Reading

5

Culture of Writing

5

Culture of Mathematics

4

Integrating the Arts

4

Assessment

Learning Targets

3

Assessment For Learning (AFL)

4

Quality Assessments

4

Communicating Student Achievement

4

Analyzing Assessment Data

3

Culture & Character

Learning Community

4

Crew

4

Fostering Character

4

Engaging Families

4

Beautiful Spaces

4

Leadership

School Vision

4

Using Data

4

Supporting Planning, Assessment, & Instruction

5

Positive School Culture

5

Professional Learning

4

 

 

Environmental Education

Evergreen employs a Coordinator of Environmental Education (EE) who works with teachers and the broader community to provide resources, opportunities, and instruction to cultivate environmental citizenship among our students. Environmental Education often intersects with the science and social studies curricula in the regular classroom, but it also takes students into the field where students have many opportunities to observe and explore the natural world directly—on campus, in many natural areas of Western North Carolina, and beyond. Among the on-campus resources available for environmental studies are a solar-powered weather station, a community garden, an outdoor classroom with a living roof and cob oven, a variety of birdhouses and feeders, a straw bale and cob playhouse, the EL nature trail, and a wetlands pond.

 

Our place-based, environmental education program attends to components described by the North American Association of Environmental Educators. They are: Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills; Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems; Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues; and Personal and Civic Responsibility.

 

Evergreen’s developmentally appropriate program engages our youngest learners in outdoor activities that foster awe and wonder and promote a love of nature. As children evolve in their thinking, the EE emphasis is on exploring and gaining an understanding of the local environment. Students in upper grades focus on stewardship of the land and thinking critically about issues in their community. From grade to grade, students develop a sense of place that begins with personal environments and progresses to the global environment.

 

Through these positive experiences, we hope that students will become stewards of the land and their community, developing a sense of purposeful citizenship and identifying for themselves their role in nature and society. Students will be empowered to generate solutions and make positive changes, understanding that they can make a difference—individually and collectively.

 

 

Visual Arts & Arts Integration

Students in grades K-8 receive weekly art instruction. Frequently, art projects are integrated into expeditions—from illustrating a bird field guide to designing a “green” school facility. This provides students with the opportunity to learn about art as a discipline, but also as a vehicle for learning and memory, communication and presentation, creativity and self-expression. Students explore a variety of media including clay, collage, quilting, drawing, painting, and puppet and mask making.

           

Music

K-5 students have music once weekly. Music instruction at the earliest grades is designed to be fun, to provide an avenue for expression, and to establish a foundation for lifelong enjoyment of music. Children participate in singing, movement and rhythm activities, sign language, and beginning music theory and history. Kindergarten through second graders have a weekly song circle together as do third through fifth graders. Starting in fifth grade, students learn to play the marimba, an African rhythm instrument. Students at all grade levels perform at school assemblies and Community Circles.

 

Adventure/Physical Education

Students attend physical education classes one to two times per week. In addition, all classes have daily recess or break times where students engage in active play, and many of the classes have regular times for calisthenics, yoga, or brain gym. These activities help students to develop skills for fitness and healthy living, they prepare bodies and brains for learning, and they provide important social interactions and opportunities for team building.

 

In addition to regular activity for the purpose of fitness and skill building, our Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound philosophy places a value on adventure activities that challenge and inspire students. Ropes courses, climbing excursions, hiking, caving, rafting, biking, or camping are common adventure learning experiences, particularly in the older grades. All grades participate in an overnight end-of-year adventure trip, from “camping” in the classroom in kindergarten to a week-long Outward Bound backpacking course in eighth grade. We have a full-time Adventure/PE teacher to help coordinate the adventure program. Evergreen is also a host site for The American Adventure Service Corps (TAASC), a year-round adventure and service program that serves 8-18 year old students after school and during the summers.

 

Technology

Students in grades 2-8 attend weekly technology class. In class, they learn how to use technology to access, manipulate and present information related to their expedition studies. In addition to technology classes, teachers can schedule use of the computer lab or mobile laptop cart as needed to allow students to engage in in-depth projects that require the use of information resources and/or technology for presentations or productions.

 

 Health & Wellness

Students learn about and practice health and wellness in a variety of ways at Evergreen. In the regular classroom, health and wellness topics are integrated into expeditions (e.g., Healthy Foods in kindergarten, an exploration of organic agriculture in fifth grade). Health and wellness are addressed during recess, physical education, Crew, and adventure trips. In addition, our middle school counselor and health teacher provide holistic wellness classes on specific topics including hygiene, puberty, sexual responsibility, substance use, social skills, healthy decision-making, diversity acceptance, and mental and emotional health.

 

 

3.5            Assessment and Reporting

 

Formative Assessment For Learning

Formative assessment occurs daily in Evergreen classrooms. Expeditionary Learning is a data-driven methodology so teachers are expected to collect both quantitative and qualitative data on students’ progress as an integral aspect of effective teaching and learning. Prior to teaching a new concept or skill, teachers will use classroom-based assessments, developmental or academic benchmarks, performance assessments, and data from the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) MAP assessment to help them review goals for each subject area, plan their instruction, group students appropriately, revise instructional objectives, and target re-teaching. Following the instruction, teachers again assess whether students have met the learning target for the lesson or assignment. Assessments for Learning (formative assessments) may take the form of quizzes, observations, conferences, reading level assessments, homework checks, reflections, exit passes, or other informal checks of student understanding.  Teachers are expected to provide regular feedback to students and parents about students’ progress, and to model a standard for quality work so that students can revise their first efforts in order to meet the standard. Feedback for students should be provided in a timely manner, typically within one week of the assessment, so that students revise and improve their performance optimally. Reporting to parents should be done in the form of sending home some student work, consistent bi-weekly communication through the class website or newsletter, bi-annual student-led conferences, and parent conferences as necessary for students who are not meeting expectations. In middle school, teachers are expected to enter assignment grades into an on-line grading system accessible to parents within two weeks of collecting an assignment.

 

In addition, twice a year, in fall and spring, students in grades 3-8 take a computerized assessment called the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) in math, reading, and language use designed by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA). This assessment provides teachers and parents with a wealth of data about students’ understanding and progress in these areas including detailed information about concepts each student is ready to learn. A written report of the assessment results is provided to parents, but this data is not reported to state or federal regulators. For more information about the MAP assessment, see NWEA.org.

 

Summative Assessment of Learning

Evergreen recognizes and values multiple measures of student performance including teacher-created tests, performance-based assessments, cumulative evidence of learning and growth compiled in portfolios, and standardized tests. Summative assessment takes place periodically and is reported to parents at the end of each trimester, in November, February, and June.  In addition, teachers complete a brief mid-term report in January which indicates whether the student is at risk for not passing (a parent conference will be required).

 

Teacher-created tests that assess a student’s skills or knowledge following instruction provide evidence to support marks on progress reports issued at the end of a trimester. Evergreen’s progress reports are standards-based, meaning that the North Carolina grade-level standards in each core subject area are translated into learning “power targets.”  Teachers assess and report whether students have met, partially met, not met, or exceeded the learning target based on measurable evidence of progress and learning.

 

Performance-Based Assessments are tasks that demonstrate both the North Carolina grade level standards and knowledge taught through expeditions. These tasks demonstrate the skills and concepts students should be able to competently perform for promotion to the next grade level. Performance tasks include polished written products, projects, collaborative problem-solving or performances (e.g., a play or demonstration), oral reports, or individual demonstrations of learning. These assessments often also serve as evidence for progress reported on trimester report cards.

 

In addition, they are documented in student portfolios that are shared with parents at student-led conferences held twice each year, once in the fall and once in the spring. All parents are required to attend these conferences as part of their partnership agreement with the school. During conferences, students show and describe their work in progress as evidence of their learning; parents also have an opportunity to talk with teachers about the student’s progress. In addition to providing evidence of performance, the portfolio and exhibitions of student work in the fall and spring promote student responsibility for learning since students make choices about how to document their work and explain how their work demonstrates the learning targets and answers expedition-guiding questions.

 

Although Evergreen’s program is not “test-driven,” standardized testing is one of many measures of student progress by which we measure our effectiveness as a school. State mandated end-of-year test score information is distributed to students, families, and teachers as soon as it becomes available and school-wide results can be found on the State Report Cards website: http://www.ncreportcards.org/src/.

 

 

3.6            Promotion to High School

 

Along with their final student-led conference, eighth grade students are required to present their middle school portfolios before a formal graduation panel designed in the style of area high school senior graduation panels. Students prepare visuals that guide their oral presentation of expedition products and reflections on work that represent their learning throughout the middle school years. The eighth grade Performance Assessments provide a table of contents for the portfolio. Students work with a mentor who advises them through the revision and rehearsal process. The Graduation Panel is comprised of teachers, administrators, board members, and community members. Parents are expected to attend their child’s presentation but are not among the evaluators. Students present their work for approximately 20 minutes after which Panel members may ask additional questions. Panel members score each student’s presentation and responses on a rubric and provide written feedback which the student receives prior to graduation. Students are expected to view their panel presentations as a rehearsal for high school and the work world; rubric criteria include appropriate dress, comportment, articulation, and content. Satisfactory performance is required to graduate from Evergreen.

 

 

 

 

3.7            Culture and Character

 

Evergreen cultivates practices and structures to promote shared understandings and to encourage all community members to become crew, not passengers. Classroom traditions encourage teachers to get to know students well; school-wide traditions invite students to take responsibility for learning and service. Adults foster and model character through academic work, service, professionalism, and living the ELS design principles and Evergreen Habits of Scholars.

 

Expeditionary Learning Design Principles:

_      The Primacy of Self-Discovery

_      The Having of Wonderful Ideas

_      The Responsibility for Learning

_      Empathy and Caring

_      Success and Failure

_      Collaboration and Competition

_      Diversity and Inclusion

_      The Natural World

_      Solitude and Reflection

_      Service and Compassion

 

Evergreen Habits of Scholars:

_      Compassion and Gratitude

_      Respect

_      Collaboration

_      Perseverance

_      Craftsmanship

_      Responsibility

_      Effort of Mind and Body

_      Curiosity and Courage

_      Integrity

_      Self-Regulation

 

Community Circles at which annual events and themes are celebrated by all members of the school are held several times a year, notably for Constitution Day, New Year’s, and Earth Day. Other events and traditions that honor students and adults’ collaborative learning include honoring our teachers of the year, student-sponsored service projects and dances, a Halloween parade, a winter musical program, a day-long service learning celebration for Earth Day, Friday morning song circles, and a spring arts festival.

 

Middle School students may be nominated as Student Ambassadors who serve as spokespersons for the school during prospective family tours, media interviews, and other functions.  In elementary classrooms, student ambassadors serve as greeters and classroom tour guides.

All students participate in a Crew consisting of 10-13 students and one teacher which meets regularly to learn life skills, reflect on Expeditionary Learning Design Principles & Habits of Scholars, and engage in team building and service learning activities. Crew is a place for students to build relationship skills, develop responsibility for learning, set goals, reflect and share with others, and to enjoy a strong, supportive community of peers and adults.

 

Evergreen offers a variety of after-school extracurriculars for students in all grades.  While offerings change from year to year depending on interest and availability of space and instructors, the following are typical:

 

_      Odyssey of the Mind, a free afterschool problem-solving club for 3rd through 5th graders. Coached by parents, OM teams compete locally and regionally.

_      Science Olympiad, a free afterschool science club for 6th through 8th graders, coached by two staff members, former students and parents. The Science Olympiad team has placed in the top three in regional competitions and represented western North Carolina at the State Science Olympiad in Raleigh for the past eight years.

_      Marimba band, for middle school students – an introductory band and the EMBE Marimba Band which is for experienced players. Marimba band is a very physical as well as musical experience, offering students a chance to experience the joy of music and the discipline of performing as a group. Through Evergreen’s Artist-in-Residence program, EMBE members have collaborated with other talented musicians including Kevin Meyane, Ivory Coast singer, drummer and dancer; Billy Jonas, singer-songwriter; Akira Satake, world renowned banjoist; and River Guerguerian, world-renowned percussionist. The band has recorded four CDs. EMBE is the only band of its kind in the region and has been embraced by the local community. Community performances have included the Lake Eden Arts Festival, Asheville Bravo Concert’s Art in the Garden, N.C. Department of Juvenile Justice’s Dream a Better Dream Conference, 2006 Charter School State Conference, UNCA Math Department, Asheville Music Jamboree Festival, Rotary District Conference, and 2013 Expeditionary Learning National Conference.

_      Ski and Snowboard Club hits the slopes on Monday, following early dismissal, during the snow season. The club is facilitated by our Adventure PE teacher. Parents drive and chaperone on the trips.

_      EverAfter is Evergreen’s daily fee-based, after-school program for students in grades K-8. In addition to supervised recess, indoor activities and games, and regularly scheduled homework time, EverAfter students may sign up for clubs including arts and crafts, technology, dance, painting, drama, cooking, yoga, multimedia, and more. EverAfter organizes several sports teams that compete against other local charter schools including Flag Football, Basketball, Volleyball, and Soccer.

_      Yearbook, for middle school students, is an EverAfter club that photographs and writes about Evergreen life and produces a yearbook for the entire school.

_      Wolfpack Sports, organized through EverAfter, competes with several area alternative education schools in the Hospitality League. Sports include flag football, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and ultimate frisbee.

 

Parent Partnership Agreement

 

Evergreen believes that education takes place both at home and at school and that parent(s)/guardian(s) should be active partners in the education of their children. Through a Parent Partnership Agreement, parent(s)/guardian(s) and school staff commit to being mutually supportive by working together to enhance each child’s development and to ensure the success of Evergreen. Based upon this agreement, students, parent(s)/ guardian(s) and staff accept certain responsibilities as partners in this educational endeavor. Each two-parent family is expected to provide service to the School for four hours a month; single-parent families are expected to volunteer for two hours as stated in the Partnership Agreement.

 

3.8            Leadership and School Improvement

 

Our administrative team consists of an Executive Director, two Associate Directors, and a Coordinator of Exceptional Children and 504 services. Other personnel include an Administrative Office Assistant, a Business Manager, a Development Associate, a part-time Facilities Manager and a Director of Student Services.

 

Evergreen is governed by a 14-19 member Board of Directors made up of teachers, parents, community members, and the Executive Director. The Board has standing committees that include Finance, Development, Nominating and Evaluating, Facilities, Grievance, Diversity and the School Improvement Team (SIT). Ad hoc task forces are formed as needed. These have included director search teams and a Master Plan Committee.

 

Board committees are comprised of board members, staff, parents, and community members. The SIT committee oversees the work of Professional Learning and Leading Communities (PLLCs), which are teams of teachers working to address the school improvement goals.

 

 

3.9            Finance and Accountability

 

The Evergreen Budget for the 2014-2015 school year is $3.5 million. The vast majority of the funding to operate the school comes from the State of North Carolina, either directly or through the local school districts where our students would be enrolled if they were not Evergreen students. Thus, 84% percent of our funding is based on our average daily membership (ADM), which is determined by the enrollment during the first four weeks of each school year. Three percent of our funding comes from the federal government in the form of grants; thirteen percent of our funding comes through non-governmental grants and fundraising efforts.

 

As a NC charter school, Evergreen is accountable to the Department of Public Instruction through the Office of Charter Schools. We are accountable for:

_      State and federal financial monitoring

_      Annual audit by independent CPA

_      State and federal policies for student progress

_      Compulsory education laws regarding health, safety and civil rights

_      State-led charter renewal process

_      AdvancEd accreditation (optional)

 

 

 

4   School and Community Contexts

 

4.2            Community Demographics

 

Asheville is a city of approximately 87,200 residents. The population of the surrounding area of Buncombe County is about 248,000. Minority groups make up 21% of the population in Asheville and 10% in Buncombe County. Asheville, the county seat, is the economic, cultural, and medical center of Western North Carolina. The community has a mix of service industry, manufacturing, and retail businesses. The University of North Carolina at Asheville is the largest institution of higher education, but there are numerous small, private colleges in the area as well as Asheville-Buncombe Technical College. Tourism has a major economic impact on the area.

 

Asheville and the surrounding area have two district public school systems. Buncombe County School System is the largest and serves 25,500 students of which 17% are minority students and 14% are identified as having special needs. Asheville City School System serves 3,758 students of which 39% are minority students and 13% are identified as having special needs. In addition to Evergreen, there are four other charter schools in Buncombe County. Three, including Evergreen, served grades k-8; one serves grades 6-12; one serves grades k-12.

 

 

4.3            Community Partnership

Evergreen cultivates community partnerships with many academic institutions, businesses, non-profits and local community individuals and organizations that further our educational mission through service and community connection. These partnerships enhance the educational opportunities for our students and help us meet the charge to charter schools of developing and sharing best practices. A partial list of partnering organizations includes:

 

Academic Institutions

_      Multiple charter schools and district public schools have visited Evergreen to learn about our practices. We have shared operational practices, curricular ideas, implementation of Expeditionary Learning, etc.

_      Warren Wilson College – Student service work crews volunteer in our garden; Evergreen teachers mentor Warren Wilson College Educational Psychology students as the college students observe, design lessons and present them to Evergreen students.

_      Western North Carolina University, University of NC Asheville, Warren Wilson College, Brevard College, Montreat College - Evergreen hosts student teachers and interns from these institutions who are majoring in or studying Education, Wilderness Leadership, Environmental Education, Educational Psychology, Counseling and Experiential Education.

_      AB Technical College – The Construction Management Class designed and constructed an all-natural playhouse. They worked beside our students, staff and parents, teaching sustainable building practices. The Global Institute for Sustainability Technologies (GIST) and an architectural design class worked with our students to design an outdoor classroom.

_      Buncombe County Schools, Asheville City Schools, AB Technical College GIST, the NC Arboretum and Evergreen have formed a science collaboration to provide materials, develop curriculum and offer professional development to teachers in our region and beyond.

_      State Superintendent Dr. June Atkinson visited Evergreen and subsequently shared some of our best practices at the NAAEE Conference in October 2011.

_      Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Master of Environmental Science Candidate Matthew Browning - Used Evergreen in research on best management practices of natural play areas.

 

Business

_      Samsel Architects – Architect Chuck Krekelberg has worked with our students on designing sustainable buildings.

_      Thermacraft Energy Services – A Thermacraft engineer taught our students about solar energy.

_      Burroughs Wellcome Fund – Supporting Evergreen’s middle school science teacher to create water quality curriculum which will be distributed to schools statewide

 

Nonprofits

_      RiverLink - Works with our students on stream and creak cleanups, watershed education and water quality testing. Our fifth and eighth grades regularly do stream cleanups with RiverLink.

_      Asheville Green Opportunities - Providing labor to help construct our outdoor classroom

_      Big Bald Bird Banding Station - Biologists working in a bird migration monitoring and research program engage fourth grade students’ participation during their migration expedition.

_      Department of Environmental Resources - Do presentations for our students on air quality and sustainability

_      Wild South – Provided educators for our “Wild About Wildlife” Earth Day Celebration

_      Earth Day Network – Provided $15,000 in photovoltaic solar panels. Students and community members can read the school’s energy savings on the web site.

_      Artisan Builders Cooperative – Donated labor for construction of all-natural play house and worked with our students in designing and building the structure

_      The Honeybee Project – Provides educational program for our students on Earth Day

_      Buncombe County Master Gardeners – Provide funding for seeds and mulch for the garden, as well as consulting services

_      Winter Green – Funded and installed a hoop house for growing vegetables year-round

_      The American Adventure Service Club (TAASC) - Evergreen provides space for the group to meet and store gear. TAASC provides campus cleanup service and adventure trips for Evergreen.

_      Long Branch Environmental Education Center – Hosts our students when they study plant life and sustainable living

 

Community Organizations

_      NC Office of Environmental Education - Evergreen provided “snapshots” and photographs highlighting how we use the environment to improve academic performance and environmental literacy for use in the state’s Environmental Literacy Plan.

_      Hickory Nut Gap Farm -Donated locusts posts for the garden fence and heirloom apple trees. They work with our fifth grade classes during their expedition on Sustainable Agriculture.

_      Leadership Asheville Seniors - Invited Evergreen to present at their “Leading Towards Learning” summit on alternative educational programs

_      Reading, Riding and Retrofit Sustainable Schools Event - Evergreen presented our efforts toward energy efficiency, conservation and facility upgrades.

 

4.4            Development and Public Relations

 

 

Evergreen has a seasoned and successful Development program and a strong culture of giving within the school community. For the past decade, 100% of the staff and 100% of the Board of Directors have donated each year to the school’s annual fund drive, the Evergreen Fund. As much as 90% of our families annually donate to the Evergreen Fund. In addition to this fund, Evergreen’s Development staff coordinates a variety of smaller fundraisers, solicits grant funding from foundations and other funding institutions and recently completed the school’s first capital campaign to raise funds for the renovation of our gymnasium. Development efforts are overseen by the Development Committee which is a board committee, and this group oversees the Fundraising Leadership Team, Revenue R&D Task Force and the Grant Writing Team.  Last year’s development revenue was in excess of $350,000.

 

Evergreen’s public relations efforts involve maintaining strong media relations, developing strategic partnerships, giving weekly campus tours led by Student Ambassadors and holding programs that introduce outsiders to our school. All these tactics have been very effective in building a positive reputation for Evergreen in the local community and state and also has resulted in waiting lists of more than 600 students.

 

Evergreen is an Expeditionary Learning Mentor school, hosting visits throughout the year for other schools interested in becoming EL schools, hosting Site Seminars for educators across the nation, and participating in the development of a collection of exemplary pieces of student work for the EL website. Not only is Evergreen, as a school, a member of community and educational organizations, its leadership is as well. Our Executive Director serves on the Board of the Green Schools National Network and on the NC State Advisory Board of AdvancED. Our Associate Director serves on UNCAsheville’s University School Teacher Education Partnership (USTEP), in particular on the subcommittee for Initial Preparation which deals with the issues and process of student teachers and teacher licensure preparation for the classroom. Our school counselor has been involved in community groups including: Safe Schools for All (WNC Anti-Bullying Coalition), Partnership for Substance Abuse Prevention in Buncombe County, and the YWCA Stand Against Racism. Two of Evergreen’s teachers have been named NC Charter School Teacher of the Year, allowing them to network with and support other teachers across the state.