The assessment of student academic performance is a mainstay of public education. Commenting on the recent performance of students at the Coweta Charter Academy at Senoia (CCAS), Principal Gene Dunn said CCAS elementary students outpaced their counterparts in other Coweta public schools.
One of the indicators of success for a charter school, one such as CCAS that does not receive the same funding afforded to those schools in the school system, is in its academic performance compared to the local school system.
“The elementary school at CCAS out-performed the local school system in 10 out of 12 testing categories,” Dunn said. “The CCAS middle school also out-performed the local school system in language arts and demonstrated significant growth in math.”
Though good scores, Dunn said CCAS has a lot of growing to do.
“We have implemented an innovative program this year called Thinking Maps. This strategy provides a new tool for students to reach higher levels of critical and creative thinking,” Dunn said. “It’s not enough to just do an internet search to find an answer. In the real world, students need to be able to solve problems on a day-to-day basis. It helps turn abstract thoughts into concrete images that lead to solutions.”
Dunn said Thinking Maps are linked to eight specific thought processes and helps students and teachers to visualize their thinking and learn techniques that are essential to 21st century educational standards.
“Teachers have completed training on four Thinking Maps and are currently implementing them in the classroom,” said Dunn. “In January, teachers will receive training on the final four Thinking Maps so they will be integrating all eight maps by the end of the school year.”
CCAS is also embarking on a plan to earn STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) certification. STEAM utilizes the arts as a vehicle for demonstrating what has been learned, while increasing creativity and teaching habits-of-mind that can be applied to any subject, Dunn explained.
“Our sister school in Cherokee has been working toward this goal and has had tremendous results thus far,” added Dunn. “We don’t believe it’s a good practice to shove information into students minds and asks them to regurgitate it back. Instead, we are a school that promotes a deep love of learning and fosters an environment where curiosity is rewarded with knowledge and active learning is owned by the students.”
CCAS is part of the Charter Schools USA Inc. family of schools. The school is governed by the Georgia Charter Educational Foundation which consists of local community leaders which include Ernest Taylor, Danny Dukes, Marian Parker, Federick Black, John W. McIntyre and Mark Johnson.