Press | New Leaders-led Initiative Identifies Schools With Dramatic Gains in Student Achievement

New York, NY — The Effective Practice Incentive Community (EPIC), a national initiative of New Leaders for New Schools, today announced the conclusion of the third year of a major, cross-state analysis of charter school achievement. Using a value-added model to analyze performance data from 179 high-need charter schools across the country during the 2008-2009 school year, EPIC identified 22 schools that have made the most dramatic gains in student achievement. Individual principals, assistant principals, teachers and instructional aides at these schools will be given awards totaling an estimated $2,300,000.

With today’s awards included, the EPIC Charter initiative has awarded nearly $5.4 million to over 1,500 educators to date, for an average award of $3,000 per educator. This year, award-winning schools span 10 cities in 6 states and the District of Columbia.

“These states and charter schools are fantastic examples of strong direction and sound strategies leading to the implementation of innovative and effective practices that positively impact student achievement,” said Jon Schnur, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of New Leaders for New Schools. “The student gains realized in these schools prove that effective institutions can and do have a dramatic impact on student achievement no matter their students’ backgrounds or prior schooling.”

After three years of charter school assessment, the EPIC model, which uses state test results in reading and math to measure the impact of a school on its students over time, is beginning to show emerging trends and common threads among high-performing charter schools in the United States. Out of the 22 award-winning schools, ten have previously won EPIC awards.  Four schools (Roxbury Preparatory School – Roxbury, MA, MATCH Public Charter High School – Boston, MA, Community Day Public Charter School – Lawrence, MA and E.L. Haynes Public Charter School – Washington, D.C.) have all won EPIC awards in all three years of the program.

“The schools that have won in multiple years have not only maintained a high level of success; they have continued to build on an already successful model,” said Schnur. “What we’ve found during our assessments over the past three years is that most high-gain EPIC schools have defined measurable, high expectations for student achievement, provided meaningful professional development and teacher observation programs, and instilled a strong focus on college prep and connections to post-secondary education school-wide.”

EPIC is not just about rewarding educators in schools making significant student achievement gains; it is about rewarding educators who are willing to share their effective practices so others may learn from their successes.  EPIC investigates and documents effective practices from award-winning schools that are then housed on a comprehensive online Knowledge System.  The EPIC Knowledge System is a powerful web-based professional development resource documenting the real-life practices of urban district and charter schools driving significant achievement gains. The Knowledge System now includes videos, case studies and learning tools from 122 EPIC-winning schools (including 43 from charter schools).

All EPIC charter schools serve high-need populations – on average, more than 70% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch – but are very diverse in their instructional philosophies and management styles.  More information can be found on the EPIC Website,

EPIC’s National Charter School Consortium, currently in its third year, is made up of 179 eligible schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia. The Consortium’s goal is to connect with and learn from schools serving high-need populations that are making significant gains in student achievement. EPIC is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), school district and charter school partners, and private philanthropic funders. The EPIC program is also active in Memphis City Schools, D.C. Public Schools, and Denver Public Schools.  In its first two years, EPIC awarded over $7 million to 2,694 educators in 70 schools in 19 cities and 13 states.   In 2010, EPIC will award an estimated $5.7 million to an estimated 1,800 educators in EPIC district and charter schools around the country.