Friday, June 21, 2024

Even as Cambridge’s public school district struggles to perfect its middle-grades model, the city’s Kendall Square charter school has won an award — including thousands of dollars in cash for teachers and administrators — for academic gains for students in those years, the school said Friday.

New Leaders, the New York City-based national nonprofit devoted to educational improvement, named Community Charter School of Cambridge a winner of its Epic award (an acronym for the Effective Practice Incentive Community), said Justin T. Martin, chief communications officer for the school. It is one of just 14 schools in the nation, within grant partner districts and a consortium of charter schools, to earn the honor since the award began in 2006.

“Middle school growth is sort of a holy grail in education because it is very hard to do and also because it sets a critical foundation for high school success and college preparedness,” said Emma Stellman, a co-founder of the school and its director of educational programs. “This award reinforces our belief that our instructional model and curriculum are highly effective.”

“More importantly, it is proof that all students, regardless of where they might fall on the academic spectrum, can make significant gains,” Stellman said. “This award is further evidence that with the right academic leadership, a rigorous curriculum, great teachers and a school culture with high expectations for all, every student can be academically ready for 21st century careers.”

To identify schools with the highest student achievement gains, Epic, in partnership with Mathematica Policy Research, creates and refines a value added model for each of its grant partners. The Epic model measures how much a school contributes to test score improvements for its students — looking at first at seventh-graders, then where they were when they completed eighth grade and 10th grade — regardless of prior abilities and nonschool factors. The model used in the charter school awards program is unique in that it allows comparison of test scores across different states, Martin said.

Over the past four years, Epic has awarded $15.5 million to roughly 5,100 principals, assistant principals, teachers and teaching assistants in more than 200 schools to recognize significant student achievement gains and for participating in a rigorous process to identify and document the effective practice that led to their students’ success.

The award will provide cash awards to CCSC teachers and administrators involved directly in the student growth. Every teacher will get $3,000, and the administrators — those involved in curriculum and educational program— will get $5,000 awards.

Epic is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund, school district and charter school partners, and private philanthropic funders, including the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Hyde Family Foundation, Kern Family Foundation, MetLife Foundation, Pearson Foundation and two anonymous donors.

Located in Kendall Square, Community Charter School of Cambridge is one of the area’s premier college preparatory programs for students in the seventh through 12th grades. Since 2009, every graduate has gained college admission, 87% to four-year schools. For information, visit or call (617) 354-0047.

This post was written primarily from a press release.