student achievement

Diverse by Design: These Charter Schools Show What Integration Looks Like and Why It Matters for Kids

It’s no secret that charter schools are getting some pretty stellar outcomes for students, particularly in urban areas. Many charter schools are also embracing diversity to ensure all students have a bright future, and to ensure classrooms reflect the increasingly diverse populations of our communities. Diverse learning environments contribute both to stronger academic outcomes for all students—including reduced achievement gaps—and to greater access, social capital and cohesion, as well as empathy and understanding across lines of difference. When you think about it, charter schools are uniquely positioned to be leaders in increasing the diversity of our public school system. The flexible nature of a charter school allows it to match curricula to individual communities, draw students from a wider geographic area and partner with local districts and organizations to attract a diverse group of students. Let's take a look at 10 public charter schools that are designed with diversity in mind. These schools are leading the charge and showing that high-quality education, supportive school culture and diverse student populations positively impact everyone in a community.

Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy Rhode Island

At Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy makes diversity a core belief, central to everything they do. The charter network runs three elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school in Central Falls, Cumberland, Lincoln and Pawtucket. It serves both urban and suburban communities and its student body features kids from a diverse range of socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. The schools focus on college preparation from the beginning of kindergarten, including field trips to college campuses. Blackstone was named the national School of the Year by the Diverse Charter Schools Coalition. Students at Blackstone far surpass statewide averages on test scores in both English and math. Blackstone also boasts one of the state’s lowest rates of student absenteeism and mid-year transferring.

Bricolage Academy of New Orleans New Orleans, Louisiana

At Bricolage, students have ultimate sway over school culture. Bricolage embraces the belief that education should be fair and that all students deserve the same educational opportunities and education. At Bricolage, a socioeconomically, ethnically diverse public school, students learn essential life skills such as reasoning, critical thinking and problem solving. At roughly 10 students per faculty member, Bricolage offers one of the lowest student-teacher ratios in the state, ensuring each child receives the attention and guidance they need to excel. With an Innovation Class, a collaborative focus, and workshops in writing and mathematics, students at Bricolage are taught vital skills for success in the real world.

Brooklyn Prospect Charter School Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn Prospect prides itself on a robust 21st century academic program for its diverse student population. Brooklyn Prospect uses a weighted lottery to give preference to students from low-income backgrounds, which helps ensure a mixture of socioeconomic status and ethnicities in its elementary schools, two middle schools and high school. Brooklyn Prospect is an International Baccalaureate World School, which leads its students to become more responsible global citizens. Brooklyn Prospect students earn higher test scores and have more counselor attention than the average student in New York.

The City School Los Angeles, California

City Charter Schools focuses on creating the next generation of leaders through educational excellence, diversity and community. City Charter Schools operates both a middle school, The City School, and a Spanish-language immersion elementary, City Language Immersion Charter (CLIC). These two schools provide an exceptional education to its student body, where students become creative and critical thinkers who ask questions, debate and express ideas with respect and without fear. All students at City Charter Schools experience a rigorous academic program that simultaneously promotes a focus on social and emotional growth. In Math, English, and Science, students at City Charter Schools far outperform their peers across the state and demonstrate consistent improvement from year to year.

Community Roots Charter School Brooklyn, New York

Community Roots offers students the opportunity to learn and grow side by side with classmates from varied backgrounds and abilities. The K-8 school’s diverse student population has almost equal numbers of Black and White students, which unfortunately is not the norm in New York City. With a sense of community, students are able to thrive in a school with a rigorous academic curriculum that allows all students to meet their full potential. Community Roots’ students outpace their peers throughout New York in their test scores.

Elmwood Village Charter School Buffalo, New York

Elmwood Village Charter is a diverse K-8 school community that emphasizes social responsibility, arts integration, multiculturalism and community alliances. Elmwood believes that the social curriculum is just as important as its academic curriculum. Students at Elmwood can rely on a diverse school environment that year by year leads to a proven track record of success thanks to a low student-teacher ratio and appreciation for different learning styles. With high test scores and consistent student improvement as they move from grade to grade, an Elmwood education comes with an academic program of excellence for its students.

Herron High School Indianapolis, Indiana

Herron High School prepares all its students for a future life of leadership and service. Students of all backgrounds are immersed in a classical liberal arts education. Herron strives to maintain a student body composed of 50 percent students of color. Test scores at Herron are far above the state average and is consistently one of Indiana’s highest-performing high schools.

New York French American Charter School New York City, New York

The New York French American Charter School, a K-5 school located in Harlem, strives to attract students from all corners of the globe. The first bilingual Franco-American public charter school in the United States, the school celebrates diversity by immersing students in a fully bilingual environment, allowing them to naturally engage with the various communities surrounding them in the school’s halls, classrooms and multicultural events throughout the year. Filled with students outperforming the rest of the district in test scores, the school hopes to shape bilingual global citizens.

Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences (TSAS) Tulsa, Oklahoma

The Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences distinguishes itself by its diversity. Teaching students from grades 7 through 12, TSAS offers a liberal arts education and a wide range of school programs, from Key Club and Bible Study to Feminist Club and Social Justice League. With its college preparatory curriculum, TSAS strives to provide the foundation for developing successful lifelong learners and leaders.

Valor Collegiate Academies Nashville, Tennessee

Valor Collegiate Academies believes that diversity is a strength, social justice is a responsibility and access to opportunities is a necessity for all students. Established as two middle schools that seek to overcome socioeconomic obstacles, Valor ensures all students have the tools they need to succeed. Every fifth grader is assigned a mentor, and every sixth grader starts the school year with a laptop. Featured by the U.S. Department of Education for its emphasis on social emotional learning, Valor’s focus on inclusiveness has garnered test scores far above the state average. https://www.facebook.com/BetterConversationBetterEducation/videos/728332177365480/
Rob Samuelson
Rob Samuelson is a Staff Writer at Education Post and Digital Media Manager for the brightbeam network.

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