Innovative NYC District School to Replicate as Charter
Gotham Schools' indispensable Rachael Cromidas and Philissa Cramer take a fascinating look at plans to replicate New American Academy, an innovative New York City public school that loops teams of students and teachers from kindergarten through 5th grade, as a charter. The current New American Academy would continue to operate as a NYC DOE school, but a second campus would open as a charter.
The potential for replication has always been a big breakthrough and potential advantage in the charter sector. There have always been examples of exemplary district-run public schools. But traditionally, replicating that success required convincing teachers and leaders at another school to copy what the successful school was doing--and that kind of replication by imitation strategy tends to produce pretty mixed results.
The charter sector, in contrast, offered the opportunity to replicate a high-performing school by growing the organization that operates it to operate additional schools--as high-performing charter networks like KIPP, Achievement First, YES Prep, Aspire and Uncommon Schools have done. That's still not easy--replication with fidelity is incredibly difficult, and not all charter replications are successful--but replication by growing an organization has some clear advantages. Replicators are growing an existing organization with established culture and practices--not trying to convince a different organization to imitate what they're doing. And organizations can develop their own human capital internally in that culture and practices with a view towards replication.
That's why I find this replication so interesting--a district is trying to use the replication advantages of the charter sector to replicate a district-run school model. Even more interesting is the involvement of UFT, which worked with the current New American Academy school on a separate contract to implement its unique model, and hopes to represent teachers at the new school. There's a bunch of other interesting nuances and outstanding questions here (such as the fact that the current New American Academy school is still very new--most authorizers wouldn't consider a charter school this new a candidate for replication), and it's well worth diving into Cromidas and Cramer's article to read about all of them!