If you’ve lived in the Rio Grande Valley for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of IDEA public schools in Edinburg. Media attention for student life, academic testing and teacher jobs in Texas tends to be negative, but not when it comes to IDEA schools. Everything about this not-for-profit Texas charter school corporation is different. Here are 8 things you might not know.
IDEA Schools Aren’t Just in Edinburg
In 1998, two Teach for America Corps members named Tom Torkelson and JoAnn Gama founded the first IDEA Academy. They saw the challenges students faced in public school, and they wanted to make a difference.
They called their program IDEA, an acronym for “Individuals Dedicated to Excellence and Achievement.” The first school was so successful, by 2005 they had a goal of launching 22 IDEA schools across the Rio Grande Valley. Here are a few numbers to tell you just how much they’ve grown since then:
- IDEA currently has 79 tuition-free public schools open to students. By the end of this year, there will be 97.
- More than 45,000 students across five regions attend grades pre-k through 12.
- By 2022, IDEA plans to serve more than 100,000 students at 173 schools in 10 regions.
Schools Use A Lottery for Student Enrollment
IDEA Public Schools in Edinburg provide an extremely positive experience for students, and parents want their children to have the opportunity to attend. To apply for the 2020-2021 school year, Texas students must be turning four years old by September 1, 2020. Kindergarten applicants must be turning five by that date.
When parents apply before the deadline, schools hold a lottery to choose which students they’ll enroll. After the lottery, they notify families by email and by phone. After acceptance, students must attend registration events before they are officially enrolled.
IDEA Public Schools in Edinburg Prioritize College
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest estimate, the median earnings of students who graduate college is 74.5 percent higher than students who only receive a high school diploma. That number continues to climb as students go on to complete graduate school degrees. On average, the more schooling Americans complete, the more money they make in adulthood.
IDEA Public Schools seek to instill in students the expectation of college graduation. They serve students until they complete high school, but for students, the journey does not stop there. From the very first day of pre-k, teachers guide students toward realizing the goal of receiving a college degree.
College Focus for Early Grades
Rigorous curriculum and cutting-edge technology encourage students to perform at or above grade level even in kindergarten, first and second grade. By third grade, students start visiting university campuses and attending field lessons to start thinking about college life later. The intensive curriculum and instruction works, with students in third through fifth-grade receiving test results six percent higher than their peers across the state.
In middle school, students begin receiving pre-AP instruction, getting them ready for advanced college placement. IDEA middle school students out-perform their peers by 11 percent.
High School College Prep
High school students take Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes that make them eligible for college credit and prepare them for college study. Schools provide ACT and SAT prep.
An astounding 100 percent of IDEA high school graduates have received college acceptance for 11 years and counting. Almost a quarter of them became AP scholars, meaning they graduate high school with at least three AP college credits already.
Prestigious Texas Honor Roll District
This year, IDEA Public Schools received recognition for their high achievements and student excellence in academics. The Institute for Productivity in Education (IPE) seeks to identify schools that get better academic results with fewer financial resources. IPE partnered with organizations like the American Automobile Association, Wells Fargo and Chevron Corporation to recognize school districts whose students achieve consistent success.
IPE only identified six public school districts in Texas to receive this honor. IDEA Public Schools were among those six.
In addition, IPE awarded individual schools. IDEA Academy Edinburg and IDEA College Preparatory Edinburg both received the designation of Texas Honor Roll for students’ academic achievements.
America’s Most Challenging High Schools
The Washington Post and Jay Matthews create an annual list of the most challenging high schools in the nation. The list doesn’t look at what students score on tests, but on the number of tests they are required to take divided by the number of graduating seniors. IDEA Public Schools rank among America’s most challenging, with IDEA Edinburg high on the list.
Strict Requirements for Students
Students have to work hard every day at IDEA public schools in Edinburg. The handbook requires every student to wear a uniform, which means they show up in a polo shirt with the IDEA logo and khaki or navy pants. In high school, when guys start to grow facial hair, they have to shave. All students must keep hair neat, with only short hair allowed for young men. IDEA Public Schools in Edinburg also limit young women to only light makeup.
Teachers and administrators make it clear – students are there to learn and to prepare for college. If they don’t pass the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) in fifth grade, they can’t go on to sixth. Beginning in sixth grade, they begin studying to take a scheduled 11 AP courses. To graduate high school, students must also meet these requirements:
- Completion of curriculum requirements from the State Board of Education
- A minimum of 125 hours of community service
- Acceptance into a four-year college or university
- Satisfactory performance on end of course assessments
IDEA Public Schools in Edinburg set the bar high. Then, they provide students with the tools and encouragement they need for a bright future.
IDEA Public Schools in Edinburg Feed Kids All Summer
Kids who receive free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch during the school year sometimes don’t have food when school is out for summer vacation. Idea Public Schools in Edinburg, along with other IDEA schools in Texas and Louisiana refuse to let kids go hungry.
All children 18 years and younger just have to show up to receive a free meal twice a day. The school doesn’t require identification, and children don’t have to be IDEA scholars to receive food.
Awards for Excellence
IDEA Public Schools have received a number of awards for excellence. Here are just a few:
- America’s Best Charter School Network
- U.S. Department of Education’s Bright Spots in Hispanic Education
- Broad Prize for Charter Schools 2016
TEA has also recognized IDEA Public Schools in Edinburg, deeming IDEA Edinburg Academy both a high performance and high progress Title I school. The U.S. Department of Education also shows support for IDEA’s continued success. For the 2019 round of charter school expansion grants, the Department awarded IDEA schools $117 million in grants, the largest amount ever in the grant’s history.
Homes Near IDEA Public Schools in Edinburg
Home owners love WestWind Homes at Russell Park for their proximity to Edinburg Scenic Wetlands, US 281 and I-69 and two major Edinburg hospitals. Families also enjoy the fact this community is within walking distance of IDEA Public Schools in Edinburg. Browse available homes and flex floorplans online today.