ANCS is a member of the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES), a national network of schools focused on creating schools that are intellectually challenging, personalized, and democratic. CES is not a charter management company nor does it have a “model” that its schools follow. CES schools are simply united by a shared commitment to 10 Common Principles that guide teaching, learning, and decision-making at each school. Numerous studies have shown that students in CES schools demonstrate a high level of progress academically and personally. Currently, ANCS is the only public CES affiliate school in the entire state of Georgia, a testament to the innovative nature of the school.
ANCS’s academic and organizational innovations—including performance-based portfolio assessment, interdisciplinary teaching, comprehensive sustainability initiatives, an advisory program regular community, and extensive support for teachers’ professional development—reflect the CES Common Principles, and these innovations benefit students academically and socially during the critical years that begin in kindergarten and extend through middle school.
About the Coalition of Essential Schools
For over 25 years, CES has been at the forefront of creating and sustaining personalized, equitable, and intellectually challenging schools. Essential Schools are places of powerful student learning where all students have the chance to reach their fullest potential.
The CES Network includes hundreds of schools and more than two dozen Affiliate Centers. Diverse in size, population, and programmatic emphasis, Essential Schools serve students from pre-kindergarten through high school in urban, suburban, and rural communities, and they are characterized by personalization, democracy and equity, and intellectual vitality and excellence.
CES practice is exemplified by small, personalized learning communities where teachers and students know each other well in a climate of trust, decency and high expectations for all. Modeling democratic practices with a strong commitment to equity, Essential Schools work to create academic success for every student by sharing decision-making with all those affected by the schools and deliberately and explicitly confronting all forms of inequity. And, Essential Schools focus on helping all students use their minds well through standards-aligned interdisciplinary studies, community-based “real-world” learning and performance-based assessment.
CES sees school reform as an inescapably local phenomenon, the outcome of groups of people working together, building a shared vision, and drawing on the community’s strengths, history and values. Yet while no two Essential Schools are alike, all Essential Schools share a commitment to the CES Common Principles, a set of beliefs about the purpose and practice of schooling. As they develop their own programs, the Common Principles guide schools to examine their priorities and design structures and instructional practices that support:
- Personalized instruction to address individual needs and interests;
- Small schools and classrooms, where teachers and students know each other well and work in an atmosphere of trust and high expectations;
- Multiple assessments based on performance of authentic tasks;
- Democratic and equitable school policies and practice;
- Close community partnerships.