IDEA, the controversial In-District Charter School that took over the old Allan Elementary campus in East Austin, is set to open tomorrow along with the rest of AISD’s schools. Statesman.com visits the school and reports on the changes IDEA is bringing to the campus.
The walls throughout the school’s hallways are now covered in blue and yellow banners that all read “College”. IDEA’s executive director said, “It’s central to our culture. (College for all) changes the way we teach, the way the students learn and the way we engage parents”. IDEA’s style of teaching and learning was first implemented and saw a lot of sucess in the Rio Grande Valley in getting a lot of poor and non-English-speaking students to go to college.
The campus will have roughly 600 students for the 2012-2013 school year in kindergarten, first, second and sixth grades. Next year, the academy will add 3rd grade and the sixth and seventh graders will go on to the new IDEA College Prep at Eastside Memorial High School at the Johnson Campus. The director said that about 25% of this year’s students are from schools that track to Eastside Memorial, which is a lower number than IDEA said earlier this summer after the lottery was completed.
Opponents of the school, such as the group Eastside Pride, are unhappy with IDEA’s continued recruitment efforts and the fact that most students in the school aren’t even from the area. They now plan to try and defeat board members who voted for IDEA.
No teachers from Allan Elementary stayed on to teach at the academy. Teachers are trained in the “direct instruction model”, which uses highly planned lessons and teaching tasks, as well as small-group work where students are grouped according to level. Every class has a co-teacher and uses “choral response”, where students read aloud together and “respond to certain teacher prompts.”