As we transition to a new year, we want to take the opportunity to reflect on the fall 2015 semester. In August 2015, the second round of NSBR-supported schools opened – Democracy Prep Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge Bridge Academy, and Baton Rouge College Prep. These schools join the four schools that opened in August 2014 – three schools operated by Celerity Schools, and one by University Preparatory Elementary School. Our newest schools have prioritized building local relationships, driving school enrollment, and hiring teachers and school leaders that will successfully implement their school model.
All of our schools have made impressive strides in student achievement to date; the following are some highlights from fall 2015:
- In just one semester, Baton Rouge Bridge Academy, which launched its kindergarten grade this year, has increased students who are on grade level by more than 30%, and closed the achievement gap for almost half its students within the first two months of school. At the beginning of the year, only 10% of Bridge students were on grade level in math; by December, almost half were.
- In four months, Baton Rouge College Prep, which currently serves 5th and 6th grades, has more than tripled students that are proficient (or above) in reading. In the future, College Prep will scale up through high school.
- Democracy Prep scholar Oriana had the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama and shake his hand, and all Democracy Prep students studied the State of the Union address prior to watching his Town Hall in Baton Rouge.
In addition to launching schools, we are investing in high impact talent organizations to increase the number and quality of both school leaders and teachers in Baton Rouge. Last fall, we spearheaded a partnership with Teach for America-South Louisiana and City Year Baton Rouge to make a transformative impact on the city’s teacher pipelines and school placements. City Year is adapting its program to place corps members as teachers-in-residence at NSBR-supported schools, steadily growing the number of teachers-in-residence and retaining them over the long term. In addition, Teach For America is significantly expanding its recruitment of teachers to Baton Rouge over the next few years and working to retain them as teachers and school leaders. Through this plan and collaboration, Teach For America and City Year will contribute over 500 permanent and experienced teachers to NSBR-supported schools by 2020.
We are thankful for the work of our school leaders, teachers, partners and supporters in ensuring students in Baton Rouge receive a great education. We hope you are as excited as we are for the next semester of learning and growth, as well as what is on the horizon for our 2016-17 school year.