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Columbus Collegiate Academy, one of the charter schools the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation authorizes in Ohio, was just named one of only nine charter elementary schools nationwide to receive the silver EPIC award by New Leaders for New Schools for dramatic gains in student achievement.

New Leaders started EPIC -- the Effective Practice Incentive Community ??? in 2006 to link principal and teacher incentive pay to the wide-scale sharing of effective educational practices. EPIC recognizes are rewards school leaders and staff in these schools and creates comprehensive case studies of their successes so that others may??learn from them.?? The program has granted $7.3 million dollars in incentive awards to over 2,700 educators in 120 schools nationwide. Eligible staff at Columbus Collegiate Academy will earn much-deserved cash awards for their success.

We're incredibly proud of school leader Andrew Boy and his staff, who after only one year of operation led their inaugural class of sixth graders from just 35 percent proficient in reading and 41 percent proficient in math (as fifth graders) to 74 percent proficient in reading and 82 percent proficient in math, on the Ohio Achievement Tests. These academic gains earned the school recognition as the highest performing public middle school in Columbus, despite serving a student population that is 95 percent economically disadvantaged.

Ohio's charter school sector often has struggled to produce stellar results, and our governor and teachers unions haven't made it easy for charter start-ups to do well. There are a handful of high performing charter schools across the Buckeye State???but not many. That Columbus Collegiate Academy has achieved these results, despite obstacles related to funding, facilities, and startup costs unique to Ohio's general anti-charter climate, is remarkable.

Columbus Collegiate's winning peers include charter schools from the models YES Prep, KIPP, GreenDOT, and Mastery Schools in Philadelphia, and others which are some of the highest-performing charter school organizations in the country. Columbus Collegiate Academy ??? a small school nestled in the Weinland Park neighborhood of Columbus-- now ranks alongside those hailed by President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as exemplars of how to close the achievement gap and turn around schools successfully.

Congratulations to all of this year's winning schools.

Photograph by Laura Pohl
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