Promise Academy Fact Sheet
Promise Academy’s mission is to create personalized, world-class educational experiences that prepare all students to reach their potential and to change the world.
Currently, there aren’t enough high-quality school options in downtown San Jose. In 2015-16, only 16% of students in downtown schools were proficient in math, far below the statewide average. Public data shows that these results have been virtually unchanged for the past decade. Currently, only 45% of students that graduate from schools in downtown San Jose are eligible for colleges and universities. For Latino students the percentages are worse with less than 35% of students graduating eligible for college (based on 2015 CDE data).
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What is special about the partnership with The Tech Museum?
What’s unique about the Promise Academy model?
Does this school have a strong educational plan?
How will Promise Academy prepare students for college?
How will the school support high-need students like English learners or those who come in far behind?
How will the school support students with disabilities?
Promise Academy Overview
● Tuition-free, non-profit public charter school
● Opening in fall 2018 with grades K-2nd, 5th and 6th
● Offering grades K-12 by 2025
● All students can learn at a high level
● Students learn differently and at a different pace
● Students should have choices in what they learn and how they
● Family & cultural diversity should be celebrated!
Learn more and read the full petition at:
Promise Academy is founded by Dr. Anthony Johnson, a veteran educator with previous experience both leading a successful turnaround school and opening a new comprehensive high school. For the past year, he has been working with a group of founding parents to design the school and develop the petition. This was submitted to San Jose Unified School District (SJUSD) in arch with 300 signatures from parents interested in sending their children to Promise Academy – nearly three times the number required.Promise Academy has also received letters of support from San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Council member Raul Peralez, CEO of The Tech Museum of Innovation Tim Ritchie, Silicon Schools Fund, Pastor Oscar Ixtupe of Palabra Mi – El Church, Pastor Oscar Suarez of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, and Rev. Livio Stella of Holy Cross Church.
Promise Academy is designed to offer a college-prep education to diverse students in downtown San Jose, many of them first in their families to go to college. The reality is that in today’s world, the majority of good jobs require education beyond high school. We’re preparing students to become lifelong learners by giving them a strong foundation.Our goal is for every Promise Academy student to graduate fully prepared for college and career so that they have a choice of opportunities to pursue. Our model has been designed to make sure that we can deliver on that promise to our students and families. Key elements include:
● TK-8th Grade Pathway to College: Promise Academy will serve most students from age 4. No matter which grade they start at Promise, we will work with them and their families through high school graduation. Our model personalizes the learning experience for students based on their interests and needs so that any student, at any age, can find success at our school.
● Small by design: Promise Academy will have a family feeling, with no more than 35 students at each grade. In grades TK-8, students will stay with their teachers for two years in a row. This helps students, families, and teachers form lasting and deep relationships and allows teachers to tailor instruction and support to the individual needs of the child.
● Small group instruction and innovative learning experiences: At Promise Academy students will spend a lot of time learning in small groups and through personalized instruction and intervention. This means that each week students will sit down with their teacher and examine performance data as they reflect on their academic and socioemotional progress. This will allow both the teacher and the student to identify strengths and weaknesses to build upon. Some students may need more practice on a challenging topic and some students will ready to move on to more rigorous work. The point is that every child gets what they need. Data will also be used to group and regroup students to make sure that their needs are being met during small group instruction. At the school’s Innovation Lab, students will learn how to apply what they are learning to solve real-world challenges in their own communities. Through these experiences we will support students to be change agents to improve their world.
Does this school have a strong educational plan? Go to the Top
Our instructional model is built off the best practices of some of our nation’s most inclusive and highest performing schools, as well as extensive research. Our model has already received recognition and substantial start-up funding by New Schools Venture Fund, and Silicon Schools Fund, organizations dedicated to fostering student agency and innovation in our nation’s public schools. San Jose Unified School District’s external reviewer found that the charter petition met or exceeded 61 of 63 elements on their rubric.
Research shows that students rise to high expectations, especially when coupled with strong support. Yet most schools operate with the belief that college can and should be an option for a chosen few. Worse still, schools have held an expectation that only a small percentage of students are capable of participating in a rigorous academic program at the high school level. This belief has manifested itself in exclusionary policies where students are tracked into different high school programs. As a result, students who are behind in 8th or 9th grade are systematically left out of the college-going track.
At Promise Academy, we seek to create a more equitable educational system by holding the expectation that all students have the right to participate in a college-preparatory course of study and to get appropriate support matching their needs. We know from research and experience that these students can succeed with the support of their families and our staff.
We believe the default academic program should reflect our high expectations for all students and that it’s our job to provide them the excellent education and support to get there. If students are struggling, we have plans and systems to adjust and support them.
Promise Academy will be graduating just 35 students per year, allowing us to provide significant personalized support. All students will complete the A-G requirements needed for admission to a California state university (UC/CSU). They will complement their academic work with community service, electives and a senior project. Students will also complete a college-readiness course, develop a college plan, and get help to prepare for the SAT/ACT and apply to colleges.
How will the school support high-need students like English learners or those who come in far behind? Go to the Top
It is the mission of Promise Academy to serve ALL students and to provide them with support they need to succeed, including English learners and those who come to our school struggling academically at any grade. Because of our focus on small group instruction, teachers will be able to develop lessons that meet students where they are and support them to grow their skills quickly. In addition, students will receive structured and high-quality interventions tailored to their individual needs. They will also get support from learning specialists throughout the day.Dr. Johnson has significant experience as a former teacher and administrator of a high school serving over 1,000 current or former English learners. The growth of the academic achievement of this population of students was so significant under his watch that it catalyzed a school turnaround that took a large school from being under state sanctions to getting national recognition.
We provide more details on our supports for English learners starting on page 109 of our charter petition.
As a school principal, Dr. Johnson successfully implemented an inclusion model that integrated students with disabilities into college-prep classes with support. All students with disabilities had dedicated special education case managers who co-planned and co-taught with teachers to ensure that all students were exposed to rigorous instruction and the appropriate modifications and accommodations were made to ensure the success of each individual student.
Our charter petition includes detailed plans for assessment, implementation and review of students’ IEPs; our strategy for instruction, services, and staff development; and more. You can find more details on pages 95 – 109 of the petition.
What was San Jose Unified’s process for reviewing this petition? What are the next steps? back to top There were significant issues with SJUSD’s process for reviewing the Promise Academy petition: Go to the Top
● SJUSD made confusing “enrollment verification” calls to the 300 parents who signed the petition. It sounded like parents were being asked on the spot to disenroll their children from their current school, rather than simply asking if parents are meaningfully interested in Promise Academy for 2018.
● The district refused to engage the petitioner during the evaluation process (despite his active and ongoing outreach). They did not engage the petitioner with a single follow-up question related to the more than 208-page plan, nor did they allow board members to ask the petitioner questions – even at the public hearing and vote.
● SJUSD staff recommended denial of the petition, largely based on a subjective analysis of the petition’s merits. Their own external reviewer found the petition was educationally sound.
● We believe that the three “no” votes on the SJUSD school board were made based on misinformation provided during public comment as well as a misunderstanding of key components of the school model. The two board members who reached out to the school founder directly to ask follow-up questions both voted to approve Promise Academy.
Promise Academy will now go to the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) on appeal.
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