"Be Kind. Work Hard. Get Smart." The students at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School promise to uphold these basic principles in return for a rigorous curriculum and standard for achievement that prepares them for college and beyond.
As the first year-round public school in the District, E.L. Haynes prides itself on its comprehensive curriculum which keeps students in school for a total of 47 weeks per year. The focus on extended learning time is an important element of closing the achievement gap between high- and low-income students that E.L. Haynes strives to combat. The achievement gap is related to the summer learning loss that disproportionately affects low-income students who may have less resources and opportunities to stay intellectually stimulated during the summer months.
E.L. Haynes is dedicated to providing activities and electives before and after school as well as during the intersession breaks in an effort to create a learning community that continually fosters growth in all areas. The extended learning time adds an additional 1,000 hours of enrichment to the 1,200 school-day hours students already receive. To ensure access, every child who qualifies for free or reduced price lunch can attend these programs free of charge.
In addition to extended educational programs, E.L. Haynes guarantees outstanding teachers for every student, every year, and a data driven program that tracks the growth of each student. At the core of these commitments are nationally recognized best practices for achievement. At E.L. Haynes, teachers are required to give students standards-based Interim Assessments every six to eight weeks in reading and math. Using the results, teachers analyze student and overall class performances and create Re-Teach Action Plans. This "data-in-action approach" helps teachers make instructional decisions based on student learning.
The mission of E.L. Haynes' is that every student – of every race, socioeconomic status, and home language – can and will succeed at their highest potential. Therefore, maintaining a diverse student body is one of their highest priorities. The breakdown for 2009-2010 included a student body that was 54 percent African American, 25 percent Latino, 18 percent Caucasian, and 3 percent Asian American. Additionally, 62 percent of E.L. Haynes students qualify for free or reduced lunch, 21 percent are English Language Learners, and many of the students will be the first people in their families to attend college. E.L. Haynes is free and welcomes all D.C. students from all wards. Admittance to the school is based on a random lottery.
The dynamic programs of E.L. Haynes not serve only students, but teachers as well. Through the Teacher Fellowship program, young educators-to-be work alongside main classroom teachers in a hands-on approach to teacher training. In conjunction with local universities, the program allows participants to teach during the day and take classes in the evening and during the summer to earn teaching certification. The Teacher Fellowship program relies on its community of staff members to provide a strong support network and a high level of professional expertise.
Jenny Niles, the founder and head of E.L. Haynes points to principles of integrity, determination, and achievement as the drivers of success, rather than their charter-school status. "It doesn't matter that we're a charter or not a charter. We really find kinship with schools that want to be outstanding schools," she says. As an educator, she recognizes the importance of reaching out and sharing best practices with other successful schools, charter or not.
Most impressively, the results of the program are as strong as its principles. With outstanding three-year gains of 50 percentage points in math and 26 percentage points in reading, students at E.L. Haynes outperformed city-wide gains 3-to-1. And in 2009, 80 percent of students scored proficient or advanced in math on the DC-CAS and 66 percent scored proficient or advanced in reading.
For all of their efforts and success, E.L. Haynes has earned national recognition, winning the Silver-Gain Award two years in a row for outstanding achievement gains. The award is given out by New Leaders for New Schools' Effective Practice Incentive Community (EPIC) grant program, which ranked E.L. Haynes in the top 10 in a consortium of 144 charter schools nationwide.