Colorado Springs, CO
1 Parents Love It!
7110 Sand Lakes Heights
Colorado Springs , CO 80908
Imagine Schools serves nearly 20,000 Pre K-12 students in public charter schools in nine states and the District of Columbia, with schools in development in seven other states. Public charter schools are state and locally funded schools that are granted a high degree of operating autonomy. Imagine Schools’ purpose is to assist parents and guardians in educating their children, through a challenging program of study and strong moral development within a nurturing and orderly learning environment. Imagine Schools has exceptional teachers, excellent thematic curricula, positive character development programs, vibrant leadership and solid financial strength. We believe that Imagine Schools’ approach positions and facilitates youth to succeed in and beyond the classroom. Imagine Schools evaluates its effectiveness in six areas:
Shared Values of Integrity, Justice, and Fun
Positive Character Development
New School Development
1) Shared Values of Integrity, Justice and Fun: Everything at Imagine is guided by the values of integrity, justice and fun. Integrity or “wholeness” means that every Imagine Schools person is responsible for the organization’s results both locally and nationally. Justice requires that Imagine Schools people treat each parent/guardian, each student, and each colleague as a special, unique individual. Fun means creating a joyful environment in which each staff member has significant decision-making responsibilities, and in which students, parents/guardians, and Imagine Schools staff work together for wonderful teaching and learning. These values are discussed further in Dennis Bakke’s book, Joy at Work.
2) Parent/Guardian Choice: Charter schools provide parents and guardians with greater public school options for their children. A crucial measure of overall school quality is whether parents/guardians choose to enroll and re-enroll their children. Imagine Schools uses individual school enrollment and the size of waiting lists as the primary measures of this criteria. Parent/guardian surveys and annual student retention are also used to evaluate parent/guardian satisfaction with their children’s school.
3) Academic Achievement: Students’ academic achievement is deeply important. We maintain an educational balance among language arts, math, critical thinking, science, social studies, music, art and athletics. As a key evaluation of academic achievement, Imagine Schools measures “same student” annual individual learning gains in math and reading. Each student is given a nationally-recognized standardized pre-test at the beginning of the year and again at year’s end. This measures the learning gains specific to each child; this measurement is a valuable indicator of the education occurring. The nationally-recognized pre-test and other assessments in a range of subjects also help teachers, parents/guardians and students to tailor each youth’s education, by focusing on each student’s particular strengths and challenges. During the year, the thematic curriculum allows for various other types of student projects and assessments, e.g. for student portfolios. The post-test (in addition to other state-and locally-required standardized tests) tracks the progress of each student.
4) Positive Character Development: All schools in the Imagine Schools family emphasize positive moral development. To achieve this, they utilize a number of character development programs, based on the input of the school leader, teachers, parents/guardians, and students. Imagine Schools is developing ways to measure progress in positive character development. It is likely that surveys of parents/guardians, teachers, and students regarding changes in student behavior will be part of the measurement approach. Participation in community-oriented projects that are part of the curriculum will also help measure positive character development. The absence of fighting and referrals to the school office for discipline may also be part of evaluating this important element of Imagine School’s performance.
5) Economic Sustainability: A great school is handicapped if it cannot sustain itself economically. Imagine Schools will measure economic sustainability by the ability of each local school to limit its annual spending to less than its annual revenues without significant dependence on private donations or government grants. However, Imagine Schools pledges to each school that it will supply working capital if necessary to maintain school operations. Imagine Schools also provides professional development for school leaders and teachers regarding building and maintaining solid financial health in their schools, in order to ensure long-term educational effectiveness.
6) New School Development: New schools provide the opportunity for Imagine Schools to help more and more parents and guardians educate their children. New schools also reduce the indirect costs of existing schools by spreading Imagine Schools’ central costs over more schools. Finally, new schools provide wonderful opportunities for Imagine Schools teachers and other staff to move into leadership or other teaching and staff roles in different locations. Imagine Schools tracks the criteria of new school development by the number of new schools established and the number of new students served each year.
This Falcon School District 49 public charter school uses a standards-based curriculum incorporating the Colorado State Standards, the Core Knowledge Scope and Sequence and the Classical approach. A strong character education program compliments the academic program and stresses character development and responsibility. The third major component of the school is the partnership with parents and the community. A high level of parent partnership and involvement is expected at the school.
There is no tuition for students in half-day kindergarten through 8th grade. There is tuition for full-day preschool and kindergarten programs (Imagine only offers full-day preschool from 8:15am to 3:15pm).