Charter schools are independent public schools that are tuition-free and open to all students (including Special Education and ELL). Charter schools are funded primarily through a combination of federal, state and local tax dollars. While closely regulated by the local school district, charter schools are able to exercise increased autonomy, but held strictly accountable for both academic growth and fiscal practices.
Start-up schools are independent public charter schools that Green Dot starts from the ground up, building a community and culture one grade at a time. It takes four years to have a full 9-12 high school in place, and three years for a full 6-8 middle school.
Turnaround/transformation schools are extremely low-performing district schools that Green Dot has won the right to operate, with the goal of “turning around” or reversing that trend (for both the school and the local community). Teachers at a transformation school have the opportunity to serve the highest need students, and to have the greatest impact on changing lives through education.
Green Dot schools are committed to serving all students; including those with special needs and ELL, Our schools’ population usually mirrors that of the traditional district schools in the same areas. We tailor our educational programs to a student's individual needs, and we partner with the district to provide any additional services that may be required under a student's individualized education plan (IEP).
Green Dot schools are open to all students, space permitting. Green Dot admits students entering the sixth or ninth grades through a public random drawing. All other grade levels fill from each school’s respective waitlist. Depending on the campus, priority in the sixth and ninth grade lotteries may be given to siblings, founding families and/or to families living within the attendance area. Transformation schools are neighborhood schools, and any student living within those enrollment boundaries may attend.
Green Dot teachers must teach the content developed by our Curriculum Specialists in conjunction with teacher leaders, but there is some freedom in how that content is delivered. Green Dot’s academic model is designed to meet individual student needs, combining a rigorous curriculum with the academic counseling and support students need to succeed.
Green Dot transitioned our middle schools during the 2013-14 school year and in our high schools during the 2014-16 school years. The transition has been fairly smooth, as Green Dot has focused on reading and writing across content areas for quite a while.
Green Dot’s school model focuses on graduating students and preparing them for college, leadership and life. (In the case of our middle schools, preparing them for high school, college, leadership and life.) We align our practices to The Six Tenets of High Performing Schools:
- Small, Safe, Personalized Schools: All Green Dot schools are small (no more than 700 students when fully developed), giving each student the best chance of success. Small schools are safe, help ensure that no students fall through the cracks, and allow students to receive the personalized attention they need to learn effectively. Classes at each school are as small as financially possible, with a target student to teacher ratio of 23:1.
- High Expectations for All Students: Green Dot schools center on high expectations for all students and every student takes a rigorous college-prep curriculum that meets the University of California (UC) A-G requirements. Green Dot believes that all students should be prepared to attend a four-year university after high school if they so choose. Extensive intervention and support programs are offered to help students master the challenging college-prep curriculum
- Local Control with Extensive Professional Development and Accountability: Principals and teachers own critical decisions at their schools related to budgeting, hiring and curriculum customization. Comprehensive professional development is delivered to principals and teachers to ensure that they make effective decisions related to instruction and management. Green Dot schools invest far more time and money into quality professional development than traditional public schools. Local control works in Green Dot’s school model because schools (and the stakeholders within them) are held accountable for student results.
- Parent Participation: Green Dot is committed to actively integrating parents/guardians into all aspects of their students’ education experiences. Parents are encouraged to give at least 35 hours of service annually at all Green Dot schools and a wide-variety of service opportunities are available. All parents have the opportunity to participate in an extensive parent education program to help them learn the best ways to support their child’s education.
- Maximize Funding to the Classroom: Green Dot’s organization centers on getting more money into the classroom to enable principals and teachers to serve kids effectively. Green Dot’s Home Office incorporates best practices from the private and public sectors to maximize efficiency and drive dollars towards activities that directly affect kids.
- Keep Schools Open Later: Facilities of Green Dot schools are open until at least 5:00 pm daily to provide students with safe, enriching after school programs and to allow community groups offering quality services to the neighborhood to use the facilities. Keeping schools open later accommodates the schedules of working families, as they know where their children are until they get off work. Allowing community groups to use school facilities helps ensure that the local neighborhood takes ownership and responsibility for the school.
We align our model to our core values.
If your mission is to ensure that every student, regardless of race, income, neighborhood or special needs, receives a great education, then Green Dot is the place to achieve it. We believe in finding educators who are fiercely dedicated to this mission. We also believe in building a system of support, collaboration and professional growth opportunities, with school leaders you can respect, so you can see your efforts pay off.
Green Dot directly hires all of our special education teachers.
First-year teachers receive:
- A research-based teaching framework
- New teacher training (one full week of professional development and quarterly follow up sessions)
- Twice-weekly, on site Professional Development and collaboration time
- Core content-area coaches (“Curriculum Specialists”) for first year teachers and for those teaching intervention classes
- Mentor and Buddy teachers
- Frequent observations leading up to the formal evaluation
- Goal setting and regular follow-up with school-site administrative team during observation debriefs
- Green Dot offers its own Induction Program available to all first and second year teachers (with a Preliminary Credential) needing to work on their Clear Credential.
Green Dot believes in coaching, collaboration and career ladder opportunities. We are one of only a few charter management organizations nationwide, to build a data-driven, job-embedded, individualized system to accelerate teacher growth. This system includes:
- School leaders who spend the majority of their time on instruction, observation and coaching
- Content-area coaches (“Curriculum Specialists”)
- Demonstration classroom teachers and Mentor teachers
- Individual qualitative and quantitative online data for each teacher to customize their professional learning
- A research-based framework for effective teaching
Collaboration opportunities include:
- Twice-weekly time at the school site (for on-site PD, department time, grade level time)
- Off-site PD hosted by members of Green Dot’s Educational Team
- All Green Dot Days (content-area collaboration across all school sites)
Growth and leadership opportunities include:
- Teacher Leaders:
- department heads
- grade level leads
- instructional leadership teams
- testing coordinators
- mentor teachers
- demo classroom teachers
- professional development facilitators
- focus group participants, etc.
- Outside of the classroom:
- Administrators-in Residence,
- Principal/Principal positions
- Curriculum Specialist (content coaches) positions
- Teacher Effectiveness positions
Green Dot generally uses both the CHAMPS classroom management system, as well as techniques from Doug Lemov’s “Teach Like a Champion.” Green Dot also implements reflective and restorative practices in many of our schools, including community circles in order to help build truly “safe” learning environments. Students are given more voice, but must assume more personal responsibility in exchange.
All Green Dot schools require students to take one year of PE class. Green Dot California high schools offer art classes as this is an A-G requirement. All of our Tennessee schools and select sites in California offer drama and music classes as electives. In addition, art, drama, and music (among others) are also usually offered as part of our After-School programming.
Yes, Green Dot is one of few non-district public school operators in California that has unionized teachers and counselors, and a (separately) unionized classified staff. Green Dot’s California teachers and counselors have organized as the Asociación de Maestros Unidos (AMU), a CTA/NEA affiliate.
These choices are specific to our individual school sites, but can include ELA, Physics, Chemistry, Spanish, Biology, History and/or Government.
On average, teachers have two preps in addition to an advisory class.
All teachers are assigned a laptop and a projector. Schools sites have computer labs and/or computer carts for student use. Additionally, some classrooms are equipped with a document camera and smart boards.
Yes, primarily Special Education Aides (or Paraprofessionals, as they are also called). We employ a few Bilingual (Spanish/English) Aides.
Green Dot encourages all parents to dedicate 35 hours of service to their child’s school per year, support Green Dot in achieving a 95% or greater student attendance rate, and stay actively involved in their children’s education at home - including creating a quiet study environment and participating in school meetings and events.
“Ánimo” is a Spanish word that means “vigor, mind, spirit, valor and the courage to overcome odds”. In a broken education system where outcomes are most unequal for low-income and minority youth, Green Dot is founded on the premise that tomorrow’s youth must possess "Ànimo", and we are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure all students are prepared for college, leadership and life.