Letter to the Editor: ACLC moves in, and up

Letter to the Editor: ACLC moves in, and up

Letters to the Editor

Contributed photo.

ACLC’s move from Encinal High School to 400 Grand Avenue (adjacent to Wood Middle School) was expected to be the big news on campus this year. Yet only a couple weeks into the new school year, that move was eclipsed by ACLC’s big move in API score – to a record-setting 869, topping the school’s previous high of 863 in 2008.

“We smashed right through our 23-point goal for a 44-point gain over last year,” said Lead Facilitator (Principal) David Hoopes. “It shows how working together can make a difference in the education of every learner. Last year, we added an intervention specialist and created MAS, our 'More Academic Support' program. We also renewed our focus on collaborative teaching and emphasized communication with families.”

The Academic Performance Index (API) is a number assigned to each school by the California Department of Education to measure overall school performance and improvement over time on statewide testing. Among Alameda high schools, ACLC’s new API is second only to ASTI – an “early college” high school.

ACLC also increased school enrollment by over 10 percent to an expected 340, another school record, already creating a need for more classroom space than currently allocated on the new campus.

“With such a major move, we didn’t know what would happen to enrollment,” said Hoopes. “Relocation can be very challenging to a school, especially one that’s been in the same place for 18 years. But, obviously, it’s our program not our location that people value, and that’s how it should be.”

AUSD forced a relocation of ACLC to make way for the new Junior Jets program at Encinal. The move was the first in the public charter’s history, and challenging because ACLC’s facilities at Encinal were specifically designed to house their unique program. The program, structured more like a college with open periods built into students’ weekly schedules, revolves around “The Center.” The Center is a large central space used for collaborative project work, research, study, meeting space and other community activities during open periods.

“Right now, the biggest impact of the move is the loss of our former Center of over 5,000 square feet to a Center half that size,” said Hoopes. “And, due to our shortage of classroom space, we’re having to use part of this smaller Center for regularly scheduled classes. That makes it tough to run our program the way it’s intended."

But ACLC learners are enjoying their new campus. “It’s really good – we’re close to the beach, South Shore mall and the bus lines,” said freshman Avalon Cassard. “Plus, we’re more accessible from anywhere on the Island.”

“Between the move, all the new kids, and our boost in API scores, the whole school feels re-energized, and the excitement is palpable on campus,” said Paul Bentz, transition coordinator and former executive director of Community Learning Center Schools (ACLC and Nea’s charter school management organization). “Big changes like relocation can cause school enrollments and test scores to take a real hit. But thanks to the leadership of David Hoopes, the dedication of our facilitators and staff, and ACLC’s strong community spirit, moving has actually strengthened us. It’s all contributed to a successful transition."

ACLC is a tuition-free public charter school, serving grades 6-12. ACLC emphasizes a collaborative, project-based approach and requires completion of UC-approved A-G college prep coursework for graduation. Over 90 percent of ACLC graduates are admitted to four-year universities.

Bara Waters