About This Cause
The East Bay Innovation Academy’s (EBIA) mission is to prepare a diverse group of students to succeed in college & to be thoughtful, engaged citizens who are leaders & innovators in a 21st century global world. A public charter, EBIA launched in 2014 as a middle school, will be launching our high school in fall 2016 & will grow to serve a full 6th-12th grade continuum of approximately 800 students in coming years (~110/class). EBIA builds upon the strengths of proven models around the country including High Tech High, Uncommon Schools, Summit Public Schools, the Denver School of Science & Technology, & the Expeditionary Learning Schools. EBIA has blended these schools’ best practices with other cutting edge programming to create arguably the most innovative public school in Oakland, open to ALL city students via lottery.
Why does EBIA merit investment? First we’ll provide a short answer for those pressed for time, followed by a more in-depth description.
In simplest terms, EBIA merits investment because the school:
• Has a model that is working really well. Students gained 1.5-2 years in just the first six months of last school year, with the most challenged populations advancing farthest, fastest.
• Is already replicating its best practices through professional development with Oakland Unified School District teachers.
• Serves among the most racially, economically & geographically diverse group of students in Oakland public schools;
• Builds students’ strengths as innovators, leaders & team members able to communicate effectively, persist & be flexible in finding solutions, all key skills for workforce success;
• Gets students excited & motivated through compelling projects both in & out of classroom time. Just a few sample projects include building habitats at the Oakland Zoo, creating a design solution & writing a patent for it in Science, creating an anti-bullying PSA in English, measuring your carbon footprint in math, learning about physics & mechanics by disassembling & reassembling bikes that students then give to community based organizations, building aquaponics gardens & many, many more.
• Offers students no-fee programming from 7:30-5pm every day, including an after school enrichment program, Quest, that gives students the opportunity for both one-on-one & small group tutoring in teacher office hours & for a wide array of enrichment programming ranging from bike repair to sewing, drumming, creative problem solving, & an Inside the Innovators’ Studio program that brings innovators to present to youth about the process of innovation.
• Offers six weeks of Intersession programming, providing real-world, hands-on, project-based activities outside of the regular classroom curriculum, exposing students to new challenges in new environments.
• Directly connects students to the strengths, needs & challenges of the local community, orienting students toward service.
• Needs to raise approximately $200,000 to cover the costs of “extras” such as the Quest program & Intersession, including $50,000 for the upcoming Intersession STEAMfest 2016, described under Projects in which students will take a McGyver Class, Build a Robotic Petting Zoo or an Urban Aquaponic System, or Explore Multi-surface Flat Circuitry, among many other activities.
Key EBIA differentiators:
Intentional Demographic Diversity Rather than Specific Demographic or Geographic Focus – Unlike most, if not all, Oakland Charters, EBIA enrolls students from across the city via an open lottery process, rather than focusing on a specific demographic or neighborhood. EBIA’s population closely reflects Oakland socio-economically & demographically with a diverse student body from every Oakland zip code.
Unparalleled Professional Development For, & Collaboration Among, Teachers – EBIA recognizes that any model’s most fundamental strength rests on the skill of & teamwork among teachers. EBIA has built a structure which provides teachers with 4-5 weeks of paid professional development (compared to 3-5 days at most schools) as well as daily collaboration time. As a result, students’ classroom experience is highly interdisciplinary & consistent across subjects. Additionally, teachers are able to adjust methods & approaches as needed, based on a shared understanding of student outcomes. As described under “projects” EBIA’s unique intersession structure occurring three time annually for two-weeks at a time, creates an uncommon amount of time for teacher professional development.
Strong Focus on Design Thinking & Innovation – Recognizing that the workforce demands facing our students will place a premium on critical thinking, creativity & flexibility, EBIA places significant emphasis on design thinking principles such as the iterative process & problem solving. This feeds directly into EBIA’s emphasis on innovation in which students are encouraged to understand & then challenge existing ideas, designs, systems, etc., while learning from local innovators across sectors. Students are actively encouraged to adopt EBIA’s “Innovator Norms” including: Perseverance, Curiosity, Kindness, Respect, Conscientiousness, Citizenship & Leadership. This Design Thinking & Innovation focus is evident in the classroom, in our no-fee afterschool Quest enrichment program, & importantly in our intersession model, described under projects.
Striking Success in Our First Year – EBIA students far out-performed both State & District averages on the new & rigorous SBAC tests, doubling & almost tripling proficiency rates as compared to OUSD schools. In just the first six months of last school year, on average:
• Our sixth grade class showed close to a year’s worth of math, reading, language & science growth
• Youth of color showed 1.3 years of growth & more than 1.5 years of growth in math.
• Students eligible for the national Free & Reduced Price Lunch program (coming from lower-income families) showed 1.5 years of growth
• Students with Individualized Education Plans showed 1.6 years of growth &
• English Language Learners showed almost 2 years of growth!
Best practice elements:
Full Day Programming - While the formal school day runs from 9-3:30, EBIA is open from 7:30-5 most days, offering free programming to meet the needs of working families & to provide no-cost academic support in teacher office hours & a broad array of enrichment activities through EBIA’s after school Quest program. EBIA starts later than most schools to better align with adolescent circadian rhythms & sleep needs.
Personalized & Blended Learning - In order to offer a more personalized & differentiated approach, especially to a diverse group of learners, we incorporate two types of blended learning: a rotation model (including flipped classroom), where students rotate between independent learning, small group work & whole class work, & a self-blended model in the grades where students can take classes online on their own.
Project-based Group Work – Students engage in long-term, “real-world”, collaborative, & interdisciplinary learning experiences culminating in digital portfolios. Projects have included students developing anti-bullying PSAs in English Language Arts after reading the novel Wonder, applying an understanding of ratios & proportions in math to design healthy school lunch menus, creating museum exhibits on Greco-Roman legacies in history, building Rube Goldberg machines in science to highlight laws of physics, building coding skills through website design in computer science, & planning community health initiatives in fitness.
Block System - In line with best practices, EBIA operates on a block system in which students participate in 90-minute classes several times per week (rather than daily 45 minute classes). This allows for deeper exploration, more project-based learning & less transition time.
Social-emotional Development – In order to best prepare students to be citizens of a 21st century interconnected world, students learn to be proficient in both academic skills & content, as well as the social-emotional skills of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, & responsible decision making.
Personalized Learning & Advisory – EBIA believes that all students learn differently. In order to provide support & a personalized experience, every EBIA student is paired with an educator, who stays with the student throughout the school year at EBIA. The advisory group meets for a significant period of time per week & conducts Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) meetings two times a year with each family to map out personal academic, social-emotional, & career goals for each student.
Service Learning – To instill our core value of giving back to the community & to ensure authentic, real world experiences, students engage in external service based projects in which they will both help contribute to & improve their community.
Data Driven & Competency Based Instruction – EBIA collects, analyzes, presents, & acts upon student data with teachers, students, school leaders, & parents to optimize & accelerate learning.
Community Focus – Students participate in in-depth elective courses &/or internships that are run in collaboration with community organizations & local businesses.
• Possibility & Perseverance: All students will achieve at their highest levels & will be prepared for success in college & career. We value courage, initiative, & tenacity.
• Creativity & Curiosity: Students work collaboratively with critical & creative minds. We value exploration, perspective, & determination.
• Community: Parents, teachers, school leaders, & board members assume collective & individual responsibility for all students’ success. We value relationships, kindness, integrity, & respect.
• Greater Good: EBIA promotes an enlightened sense of social justice & civic responsibility. We value holistic thinking that can improve our school, our community, & our world.
• Diversity: Students prepare for a global society & workforce by working with & appreciating the contributions of others.