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March 9, 2011
PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release

Contact: Vicky Waters, CCSA
(415) 505-7575
vwaters@calcharters.org

SAN DIEGO, California.--The 18th Annual California Charter Schools Conference today honored individuals and two charter schools for their positive contributions to the charter movement and growth over the past year with the Hart Vision Award as Charter Schools of the Year.

Dr. Olga Mohan High School, which is run by the Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, and KIPP Bridge Charter School in West Oakland, received the award for their commitment to students of all backgrounds, and for making a true difference in their communities.

"These two charter schools go beyond the call of duty, and are having a positive influence in the education and lives of their students. They are some of the highest-performing charters that are also influencing other charters, and preparing our students for the future," said Jed Wallace, President and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association.

"We are very proud of this school. It's like the little engine that could, and really took off," said Alliance President and CEO Judy Burton. "The staff is the best example of a high-performing team, which focuses on each individual student's success, and we work closely with parents. It is an honor to be recognized, and acknowledge the hard work, because we believe that every child can learn at a higher level, if they're given the tools and the opportunity."

Located literally underneath a freeway just south of Downtown L.A., the school is made up entirely of portable bungalows. Most students enter the school several years behind grade level. A practice called "standards based grading", which allows students to receive credits for mastering standards as the year progresses, has been instrumental in raising the academic performance of charter students.

Dr. Olga Mohan High School is the Alliance's highest performing school in terms of academic performance, and was the fourth highest performing in LAUSD in 2010. The charter school is one of 18 schools run by the Alliance College-Ready Public Schools. Under the leadership of Judy Burton, the organization has opened 12 high performing high school and 6 high performing middle schools since 2003.

The school serves about 430 students and has a graduation rate of 100 percent and 4-year college acceptance rate of 94 percent.

The second honoree, KIPP Bridge of West Oakland, is one of seven KIPP schools serving more than 2,300 students in four different cities in the Bay Area. KIPP schools have operated in the Bay Area since 2002, and are part of a larger national network of 99 schools, which prepares students for success in high school, college and the competitive world beyond. Nationwide, over 85% of KIPP students have enrolled in college which is more than double the average for students from low-income communities.

"This award is a true testament to the commitment of the school's teachers and leaders, and great validation that KIPP Bridge is on the right path to prepare its students for success in school and life," said Lauren Hamilton from KIPP Bay Area Schools. "KIPP supports its students beyond their middle school years, all the way through high school and college. Our aim is to increase the number of college graduates in the communities we serve."

In the 2009-2010 school year, the KIPP Bridge earned an API score of 864, a jump of 75 points over the previous year, making it the second most improved middle school in the Oakland Unified School District. Last year, the founding class of students from KIPP Bridge graduated high school, and over 80% enrolled in college in the fall. KIPP Bridge serves mostly minority and low-income students. Specifically, KIPP Bridge has an enrollment of 71% African American and 24% Latino students, and 75% of students qualify for the federal free and reduced price meals program.

"At KIPP, teachers and leaders promote a culture of achievement and strong character, and the staff works with every student and their families to help them excel," added Hamilton.

The Hart Vision Awards were established in 1995 in honor of Gary K. Hart, retired California State Senator and former California Secretary of Education. While serving as state senator, Hart sponsored the legislation that established California charter schools. The goals of the Hart Vision Awards are to recognize and honor annually individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in education.

For more information on the 18th Annual California Charter Schools Conference, please visit www.charterconference.org.

About the California Charter Schools Association*

The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 912 charter public schools and more than 365,000 students in the state of California. The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association is to usher in a new era in public education so all students attend independent, innovative, accountable schools of choice. The Mission of the California Charter Schools Association is to influence the legislative and policy environments, leverage collective advocacy, and provide resources to support our members in developing and operating high quality, charter schools reflective of California's student population. For more information, please visit www.calcharters.org.

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