Challenge Prep Arverne will provide a rigorous academic program aligned with the New York State (NYS) Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS). Challenge Prep Arverne will be a K-5 school during its first charter term and will expand to K-8 in its second term. The school's academic program is designed to promote mastery of literacy and core academic subjects, artistic appreciation and expression and development of critical thinking skills. It will also establish a culture of academic achievement with the aspirational objective that each student will gain admission to and succeed in competitive high school and, ultimately, a college and/or career. Challenge Prep Arverne is committed to differentiating instruction to address the needs of each student.
Challenge Prep Arverne’s academic model is adapted from the successful academic model currently implemented by the Challenge Preparatory Charter School (Challenge Prep), a DOE-authorized charter school in Far Rockaway that recently received a full renewal by its authorizer. As the first charter school in Far Rockaway—and as a “home grown” charter school established by parents, residents and leaders from the Far Rockaway community—Challenge Prep has provided a high-quality educational option for Far Rockaway’s children and families. During its first charter term, Challenge Prep outperformed CSD 27 and nearly all of the individual district schools serving a similar population in both math and ELA. The Challenge Prep academic model is data-driven and designed to address individual student needs and respond to new and changing circumstances. This responsiveness was especially evident by the school’s response to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, which not only destroyed parts of the school facility and required the school to be closed for several weeks but also rendered many of its students and their families homeless. Challenge Prep’s daily literacy and math blocks (120 minutes for ELA and 90 minutes for math) and targeted interventions to supplement ELA and math instruction, along with its extensive family support initiatives, enabled Challenge Prep to bring its students back to their prior high levels of proficiency by the end of the school year.
Key Design Elements
In designing its school model, Challenge Prep Arverne's Applicant Group examined Challenge Prep with the intention of building on its strengths and adapting its academic program to address the needs of Challenge Prep Arverne's expected student population. Among the key elements of Challenge Prep Arverne are:
- Data-informed differentiated instruction tailored to address the needs of each student—Challenge Prep Arverne’s approach to instruction will rely heavily on the accurate and ongoing identification of student needs based on analysis of a variety of student data to determine the appropriate balance between direct and differentiated instructional approaches. The school will establish a comprehensive school-wide data culture to facilitate data-driven instructional decision-making and differentiated instruction. At Challenge Prep Arverne, all teachers and instructional staff will participate in the collecting, organizing and analyzing student data and in creating data-based lessons and interventions to address student needs. Also, each student will have an Individual Learning Plan with objectives based on student needs identified through analysis of assessment data and other measures and an instructional strategy for helping the student achieve them.
- A school-wide culture of collaboration—Challenge Prep Arverne will establish a cultural framework that promotes and supports collaboration among and between all school stakeholder groups. Teachers and instructional staff will work collaboratively in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to develop, assess, improve and share CCLS-aligned lessons. Challenge Prep Arverne’s Principal and key instructional leaders will work together to analyze data and plan during regular School Leadership Team meetings. Students at each grade will collaborate in project-based learning experiences. Ongoing collaboration will also occur among parents and teachers through the school’s parent-teacher-association, parent-teacher conferences and an interactive school website.
- A rigorous CCLS-aligned curriculum—Challenge Prep Arverne will implement the ELA and math EngageNY modules through school-wide and grade-level collaborative planning, data analysis, curriculum and assessment development and ongoing progress monitoring. Under the direction of the School Leadership Team, teachers will work together in PLCs to develop curricula, analyze data and modify curricula and lessons as needed. Teachers will use technology to support this work, including an integrated series of online tools to support curriculum alignment, assessment development and tracking of student performance matched to specific standards and assessment questions.
- Use of a variety of instructional approaches to maximize student learning—Challenge Prep Arverne will employ a balance of teacher-centered and student-centered instruction. with both direct and differentiated instruction that includes project-based learning including hands-on and student led activities, along with small student grouping and regrouping. The school will also integrate blending learning in an incremental and developmentally appropriate way, with the intention of implementing a fully-integrated blended learning program in the middle school grades during its second charter term.
- Use of the workshop model—Challenge Prep Arverne will use the workshop model to deliver instruction in all subjects in all grades. The Applicant Team has chosen to use the workshop model because it supports the school's balanced educational approach and builds capacity in teachers to differentiate instruction. Challenge Prep Arverne will also use the workshop model to deliver tailored interventions to at-risk students, including English language learners (ELLs), Title I students and special education (SPED) students.
- Increased instructional time—Challenge Prep Arverne will have an extended day (8AM-4:30PM) and extended year (190 days per year).
- Targeted support for at risk students—Challenge Prep Arverne will establish an integrated series of supports and services to help its most at-risk students meet or exceed the school’s rigorous standards. The school will establish a Response to Intervention (RtI) protocol similar to Challenge Prep's RtI model to identify students at the first signs of struggle and support them with a multi-tiered system of interventions. Reading Specialists will provide push-in and pull-out support to students reading below grade level. The school will address the needs of SPED students through an inclusion model implemented by certified SPED teachers under the supervision of a SPED Coordinator.
- Leveraging community resources and relationships—Challenge Prep Arverne will be a “community school” that provides services and supports to families in Far Rockaway while availing itself of a full range of community resources to help its students. The school will use the extensive community resources and relationships of its founders to support the school and its students. Challenge Prep Arverne will use the relationships and experiences of its Trustees and leaders to secure additional resources for the school and to establish partnerships and external learning experiences for students.
 Far Rockaway’s students are highly likely to experience conditions or circumstances that make them at-risk of educational failure. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008-2010 American Community Survey Population Division- NYC Department of City Planning (Nov 2011), 34% of children residing in Far Rockaway are living below the poverty level. The same report stated that 71% of adults from Far Rockaway age 25 and older were high school dropouts, and only 23% of ninth and tenth grade students were enrolled in school.
 NYCDOE is currently aligning the terms of new renewal charters so that they will all expire on the same date each year. For this reason, the full renewal that Challenge received gave the school a 4.5-year renewal term, rather than the usual full renewal term of 5 years.
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