Bright Star Schools
Since opening, Bright Star's schools have earned some of the highest API scores in Los Angeles, making our organization one of the preeminent schools for any child in Los Angeles. It is the daily attention to our core values that has helped Bright Star Schools gain remarkable distinction as an academic leader among Los Angeles schools. California gives each public school a score on an Academic Performance Index (API); 800 being the state proficiency goal on a scale of 1000. Our continuing success is illustrated by our 2011-12 API scores: * Stella Middle Charter Academy (5th and 6th grades) earned an API score of 802. * Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy (7th- 12th grades) earned an API score of 812. Distinctions: Stella Middle Charter Academy * Title I Achieving School (California Department of Education, 2011) * EPIC Award for Stella Middle Charter Academy Faculty (New Leaders for New Schools, Spring 2008) Distinctions: Bright Star Secondary Charter Academy * CA Distinguished School Award (California Department of Education, 2011) * WASC Accreditation (Western Association of Schools and Colleges, 2010) Bright Star Schools was recently awarded a $1 million grant from the Broad Foundation to fuel our growth. In March 2013, we were awarded our fourth charter from LAUSD for our new high school in the San Fernando Valley which will open in 2013-2014. We have also received generous start-up funding from the Annenberg Foundation and the Kaplan Family Foundation for our Connections Program. Since its inception, the Connections Program has had 100% participation. The Connections Program is currently serving 747 students in grades 7-12. During the 2011-2012 school year: * Connectors helped 18 seniors prepare 262 applications to 63 colleges. * 100% of 2012 seniors graduated from high school * All high school graduates were college-bound * Connectors increased communication between home and school (by meeting with family members and providing social service referrals) Connectors have made great strides creating a college-going culture on our middle and high school campus. This year, Connectors established “College Clubs” for middle school students and our juniors and seniors to encourage college and career exploration. These after-school clubs provide fundamental information on the college admissions process and help students explore their career interests. Students learn how to research colleges online, navigate the admissions process, and receive the information and guidance when applying to colleges and universities. Connectors also built a “College Center” on the high school campus where students and families can access college resources such as financial aid and scholarship information and applications, admissions exams and study guides, and participate in college-bound workshops led by Connectors.
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- 2013 Grants Challenge
Bright Star Schools (BSS), a charter management organization operating three charter schools in the Mid-City communities of Los Angeles and in the heart of Koreatown, has designed and introduced the Connections Program, an innovative and inclusive guidance program aimed at preparing our students for high school graduation and college success. Bright Star Schools’ primary goal is to have all of our students college-ready by high school graduation, with several opportunities for university and college attendance available to them. We currently serve 1,111 5-12th grade students between three school sites and will grow our network to include a fourth school in the 2013-2014 school year. The ethnic mix of our student body is 81% Latino and 11% African-American and 5% Korean-American. Less than 15% of our students have parents who went to college and less than 24% have parents who speak English as a first language. 87% of our students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch. Most students arrive at Bright Star Schools more than two years behind academically. Two years ago, based solely on academic performance, nearly 50% of our students were not ready to be promoted to the next grade. Faced with this alarming statistic, we designed the Connections Program to provide a comprehensive and individualized approach to our students’ education to ensure that they graduated high school on-time with a clear post-secondary plan. The Connections Program is an original approach to serving at-risk youth by providing personalized wrap-around supports and resources for every student and their family. Our students face many unique challenges – neighborhood violence, poverty, learning disabilities, immigration issues, etc. – which, unresolved, can make the difference between dropping out of school and becoming a college-bound graduate. To address these challenges, each student is assigned a “Connector”, a staff person who is available at all times to listen, set academic and personal goals, give advice, and identify community resources that will ensure that their students are passing their classes, feeling safe and secure at home, and preparing for their future beyond high school. The Connections Program meets the academic, social and emotional needs of our low-income and minority student body by providing comprehensive supports and resources reaching all facets of a student’s life. Connectors meet with their student’s teachers, counselors, service providers and family members to coordinate efforts, keep lines of communication open, and provide insight and support when needed. In this way, every student has an ally on staff whose sole purpose is to help them graduate from high school prepared to enter and succeed in a four-year college or university. The Connections Program takes the concept of traditional guidance counselor several steps beyond what would be seen in a classic public school. In a typical middle or high school, there is normally one guidance counselor for hundreds of students. Most students never meet their school’s guidance counselor, or only meet the counselor if they are referred for some wrong-doing. Our Connectors are guidance counselors in the truest sense of the word – they provide personalized and around-the-clock support to help students become successful high school graduates prepared for college and career. What makes the Connections Program so innovative and unique is the time our staff devotes to each student and the comprehensive support each Connector provides to our students and their families to ensure that there are no roadblocks in their path toward high school and college graduation. Jaylan Alexander plans to be the first person in his family to attend college. Although highly motivated, he comes from a poverty stricken family and had no resources to help get him through high school, let alone navigate the high costs of applying and attending college. Through the Connections Program, Bright Star provided Jaylan with school uniforms, bus passes, and school supplies. His Connector made sure that the school covered the cost of his college applications and his Connector provided him with ongoing academic guidance and emotional and social support. Jaylan’s hard work and commitment to his education, coupled with the financial, academic and emotional support he received through the Connections Program, has put him on the path to college success. There are many others like Jaylan who have been able to succeed because of their involvement in the Connections Program. We have seen the Connections Program have a significant impact on the academic and social success of our students, enabling them to graduate high school prepared for the rigor and social challenges of college life. As Bright Star Schools grows, we will increase our impact on the students in Los Angeles that need us most.