An EdisonLearning Success Story
EdisonLearning partnership helps elementary school
go from lowest to highest performing in the district
The Lincoln Charter School & Helen Thackston Middle School Story
In 1999, the School District of the City of York in
Pennsylvania was struggling with student achievement.
Schools were not performing well, with students at Lincoln
Elementary schools performing at the lowest level in the
district. The superintendent, with the support of a group
of parents and teachers from Lincoln Elementary School,
sought a new approach to help improve the school.
Lincoln Elementary School was converted into a charter
school in 2000. The school partnered with EdisonLearning
using EdisonLearning® School Designs to build and
manage the school, now called Lincoln Charter School.
The road to charter approval for the school was at times
difficult, but with the dedication of a group of parents “EdisonLearning services are without a doubt very
and teachers, combined with a strong, supportive partner professional and high quality. They are a top-notch
EdisonLearning, it was achieved. In 2008, spurred by the company to work with.”
success of the elementary school, the Helen Thackston
Parent Charter Board President
Middle School opened as the second charter school in
the district with EdisonLearning as its partner.
of students, including 43% African American and 37%
ThE RESuLTS Hispanic. A majority of the students (83%) qualify for Free
• Lincoln Charter School became the first and remains and Reduced Lunch; nearly 34% of students live below the
the only conversion charter school in Pennsylvania. poverty line. In 2000, all schools in the district were not
performing well and struggling to make improvements.
• Within 5 years from opening, Lincoln Charter School
went from the lowest performing elementary school
in the district to the highest performing school. The road to charter approval
• Lincoln Charter consistently outperforms the other schools The superintendent at the time was looking for new ways
in the district – between 2002 and 2009 Lincoln Charter to help improve the district’s schools. Highly interested
School’s Pennsylvania System of State Assessment (PSSA) by EdisonLearning’s innovative approach to building
Reading scores grew by 25.2 points compared with other highly effective schools, he decided to try the company’s
schools in the district that grew by 14 points. methods with one of his schools. The district entered
into a partnership with EdisonLearning and chose Lincoln
• Based on the success of Lincoln Charter School, support Elementary School as the first partnership school. Lincoln
came to open the Helen Thackston Middle School in 2008.
Elementary School was chosen for a number of reasons,
namely: 1.) the school was the lowest performing in the
ThE STEpS ALong ThE WAy district, 2.) the school’s administration had strong ties to
The School District of the City of York in Pennsylvania the community and 3.) the administration was also known
is a district with a challenging socio-economic and as innovators in their own right and was open to trying
demographic profile. The district includes a diverse mix new methods to increase student achievement.
Jamy Jackson was the assistant principal at Lincoln Elementary Jamy Jackson believes eValuate is a vital part of the school’s success,
School at the time. Jackson had deep roots in the community, having “eValuate has been invaluable to us for tracking achievement
spent 13 years as a teacher in the York City School District prior to toward end-of-year state tests. eValuate has been accurate every
assuming the assistant principal role. She was eager to embrace year.” She adds, “When we talk to teachers about setting monthly
what EdisonLearning had to offer for many reasons, one of those goals, eValuate provides a great tool to help monitor student
being the accountability the EdisonLearning approach brought. progress and drive effective instruction that will help teachers
“Partnering with EdisonLearning, if it’s not good for the kids, we meet those goals. The results speak for themselves. ”
don’t do it”, states Jackson.
Another aspect of the School Designs model that stands out in
In order for Lincoln Elementary School to be converted to a charter the district is the professional development, which is born out
school, 50% of the school’s parents and 50% of school’s teachers of the EdisonLearning cornerstone, Top Talent. Daily professional
needed to sign a petition in support of the conversion. Oscar Rossum, development sessions occur with topics that include data
a parent with children attending Lincoln Elementary School who analysis using eValuate reports, lesson planning, Response to
would eventually become the charter board’s president, led the Intervention and other subjects that provide teachers ways
charge to get the required signatures. Oscar states, “We started as a to improve student learning. House team meetings also occur
small band of daring parents trying to help our kids. EdisonLearning during this time at Helen Thackston Middle School. Jamy Jackson
was a great partner to us. They gave us the resources to believe this states clearly, “EdisonLearning has some of the best professional
school could happen.” development I’ve encountered in my career – always innovative
and cutting edge. Not only is the content of the professional
Supporters of the Lincoln Elementary School conversion encountered development stellar, but the frequency helps pull it all together.”
many hurdles as they sought to have their charter approved. They
enlisted the help of an attorney, Dan Fennick, who worked diligently In addition to the daily professional development sessions,
to file all the necessary motions. EdisonLearning provides internal national instructional and
leadership conference which offer educators a valuable and
The charter was approved on Aug 24, 2000. The school opened unique experience. Jackson states, “At EdisonLearning’s internal
4 days later on August 28, 2000. As Fennick puts it, “We were conferences, I can interact with my colleagues across the nation.
approved a weekend before the school opened and EdisonLearning I can see what an EdisonLearning partner school is doing in
was there for us. They had tractor trailers literally waiting around California and learn from their successes. This is very beneficial.”
the corner to start setting up the school once we got approval.
Teachers and administrators were there to start the first day. I A change in culture
don’t know how we could have done it without EdisonLearning.”
A change in culture to one of engagement and aspiration, the
second EdisonLearning cornerstone, was needed in order for
The School Designs Model the school to be successful. Embracing EdisonLearning’s Eight
EdisonLearning’s School Designs model was implemented at Core Values (Wisdom, Justice, Courage, Compassion, Hope,
Lincoln Charter School. The model is based on EdisonLearning’s Respect, Responsibility and Integrity) helped set the stage for this
Four Cornerstones™ of highly effective schools: Top Talent; transformation. Oscar Rossum watched the change occur and
Culture of Engagement and Aspiration; Demanding Content and believes it became most apparent in the interaction with parents.
Customized Instruction; and Achievement-Driven Management.
Rossum recounts his first speech to parents after the opening
Certain components of the School Designs model stand out as of Lincoln Charter School. “Parents did not seem engaged in
making an impact on achievement at Lincoln Charter School, the presentation and after the speech, left the auditorium in
according to Jamy Jackson, now principal at Helen Thackston disarray.” Two years later, Rossum addressed the same audience
Middle School. and noticed the outcome was completely different. Parents were
very attentive and showed the utmost respect. They ensured
eValuate™ (previously called the Benchmarks system) is an online the auditorium was neat and back in place when they left.
formative assessment system that combines monthly benchmark Rossum remembers thinking at the time “We did it! We changed
assessments aligned to individual state standards with easy-to- the culture. Our parents truly respect the school and all we
use reporting and analysis tools. eValuate is at the core of the have accomplished.”
Achievement-Driven Management cornerstone.
Strong community focus is also a big factor that contributes
Students take monthly assessments online through eValuate. to success at Lincoln Charter School. The school is aware they
Teachers then analyze eValuate’s reports and use the information need parent engagement to be successful. Staff members take a
to make adjustments to classroom instruction to impact student genuine interest in their students, often attending sports events
achievement. They also use the questions and answers in the or other student activities outside school hours. Staff members
system as a teaching tool. eValuate also allows teachers to celebrate are regularly outside greeting parents and students as they come
students’ success as they watch their growth and progress. to school.
Spurred by the success of Lincoln Charter School, parents and Jamy Jackson states, “It is hard work to implement EdisonLearning’s
teachers worked to get a charter approved to open a middle School Designs. The model comes with high accountability, but
school. When the school was denied a charter on its first try, the results are worth it. Jackson believes there is an overall reason
parents and teachers turned to EdisonLearning to help determine why the model has been so successful. She continues, “We stick
a curriculum that might help get approval. The school received its to the Four Cornerstones, see what EdisonLearning has to offer,
charter on the second try and opened in August 2009. and work together to meet our students’ needs, identifying
areas of improvement that can range from improving quality of
ThE BoTToM LInE staff to implementing new curriculum materials. Working with
EdisonLearning is a true partnership.”
Lincoln Charter School consistently outperforms the other
elementary schools in the York City School District. From 2002
The community hopes to one day open a charter high school.
to 2009, PSSA Reading scores have risen by 25.2 points at Lincoln
Charter School, as compared to other schools that have risen
on average 14 points. In Math, the point gains are 29.2 points FInD ouT MoRE
for Lincoln Charter School, as compared to 23 points for other For more information, call us at 1-800-I-CAN-LEARN
schools in the district. (1-877-422-6532), email us at email@example.com
or visit www.edisonlearning.com/casestudies.
Reading pSSA Score gains – 2002-2009
Working together for student success™
Lincoln Charter School
Other Districts in York City School District
Math pSSA Score gains – 2002-2009
Lincoln Charter School
Other Districts in York City School District