Growth fills education gap for middle school students
Lena Pope’s Chapel Hill Academy, the open-enrollment, tuition-free public charter school, on average, children’s grades drop during the first year of middle school compared to their grades in elementary school.
“Students become less interested in school, less self-assured about their abilities and more stressed about academics and social interactions during this time in their academic careers,” said Todd Landry, CEO of Lena Pope. “And while area students have 33 choice or specialty school options for high school, there are only 20 options for middle school.”
Lena Pope hopes to change that for some local students with the addition of 6th, 7th and 8th grades at Chapel Hill Academy, thanks to the Texas Education Agency.
Lena Pope received permission to increase enrollment to accommodate more of the children on the waitlist, and to expand the geographic boundary of the school. The expansion includes approximately 25,000 sq. ft. of new space at the campus.
“The decision to expand Chapel Hill Academy was driven by research from a multi-year longitudinal study tracking our students through high school,” Landry said in the news release. “Our study reveals these students outperform traditional/ISD peers in all subjects and on the state standardized tests. Yet they show regression in STAAR Math and Reading upon completion of ISD 6th and 7th grade, suggesting the need for continued access to the high-quality educational and social-emotional experiences offered at Chapel Hill Academy.”
Chapel Hill Academy opened in 2008 and serves approximately 500 students in Pre-K through 5th grades each year, with almost the same number of students on a wait list for admission.
According to the release, in Tarrant County 51 percent of students are identified at risk of dropping out of school. The Chapel Hill Academy expansion aims to fill a gap by providing the ethnically diverse, predominantly lower-income students who attend the school for elementary grades with another option where they can access strong academics and specialized learning services.
The expansion will begin with the addition of 6th grade in Fall 2018, followed by 7th and 8th grades in 2019 and 2020, respectively.