Chester Community Charter School, Or CCCS, is a non-profit K-8 school operated by a for-profit company in Chester, Pennsylvania. CCCS was founded in 1998 by Vahan Gureghian with just 94 students in grades K-4 and occupied four conference rooms at a Chester motel. The school has steadily grown over the past 14 years and now serves 2,600 students and 7 campuses.
The Chester Community Charter School is dedicated to empowering students as learners through the development of a results-driven academic environment, which includes a partnership with parents, a focus on building life skills and the desire for knowledge. It is our mission to assist students in developing the necessary academic, social and emotional skill sets to prepare them for successful academic experiences in high school, post-secondary education and beyond. Our approach teaches students how to ask probing questions and to find answers, rather than memorizing and repeating facts. By the time our students graduate from 8th grade, we feel confident that they have a solid foundation to be self-sufficient learners for the rest of their lives. They will have the ability to communicate confidently and well in the electronic world, at large, and will be proficient in reading, mathematics, and language, as defined by state standards. Our desire to empower children as learners is driven by a philosophy that proposes:
- Active learning
- Attention to individual learning styles
- Learning that integrates the senses, and
- Learning that is student-centered and, eventually, student-driven
While Chester Community Charter School has made Adequate Yearly Progress on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment for the last three years, it has been one of the most flagged schools in the State of Pennsylvania for suspiciously high rates of erasure on the standardized tests. Furthermore, PSSA improvements have come into question. In 2008, 22% of eighth graders were scored as “proficient” on the math portion of the test; in 2009, 65% of eighth grade students were proficient.
PSSA Results: 8th Grade Reading
- 2011 – 58% on grade level (32% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 81.8% of 8th graders on grade level.
- 2010 – 79% (12% below basic). State – 81%
- 2009 – 68% (10% below basic), State – 80%
- 2008 – 54% (29% below basic), State – 78%
- 2007 – 68% (17% below basic), State – 75%
8th Grade Math:
- 2011 – 58% on grade level (41% below basic). State – 76.9%.
- 2010 – 69% (26% below basic). State – 75%
- 2009 – 65% (16% below basic). State – 71%
- 2008 – 21% (57% below basic). State – 70%
- 2007 – 41% (34% below basic). State – 68%
8th Grade Science:
- 2011 – 7% on grade level (79% below basic). State – 58.3% of 8th graders were on grade level.
- 2010 – 19% (66% below basic). State – 57%
- 2009 – 27% (49% below basic). State – 55%
- 2008 – 3%, (66% below basic). State – 52%
|7th Grade Reading
||7th Grade Math:
|6th Grade Reading:
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|5th Grade Reading:
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- 4th Grade Science
- 2011 – 58%, (11% below basic). State – 82.9%
- 2010 – 41%, (25% below basic). State – 81%
- 2009 – 59%, (11% below basic). State – 83%
- 2008 – 33%, (22% below basic). State – 81%
Chester Community Charter School has a curriculum that is aligned with Pennsylvania standards. The school purports to use inquiry-based learning strategies with the hope of empowering students to become independent learners before they exit the school. They embrace the principles of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences when instructing. Furthermore, critical thinking exercises run across the curriculum. The CCCS makes it clear that they use Direct Instruction in the lower grades to ensure that students have solid foundations in basic skills while thematic learning is used in upper grades.
Chester Community Charter School offers special education and gifted and talented classes. They pride themselves on their decision to offer differentiated instruction to all students.
Technology is integrated throughout the curriculum. Students enjoy state of the art computer laboratory facilities including a one-to-one laptop program for grades three through eight. Laptops are intended to provide students spaces to write and perform research. The University of Delaware is actively involved in working with the school to adopt software that is beneficial to student learning.
For under-performing students, Chester Community Charter School offers an after-school program. The after-school program is largely tutorial and works one-on-one with students to improve their writing, reading, and math skills. In addition, the program brings in students from both Neumann University and Widener University to tutor CCCS students.
Chester Community Charter School uses the Positive Behavior Support Program in order to “prevent disruption in the educational process.” The program promotes the use of pro-social behaviors in addition to incentives for positive behavior. Scientifically based interventions are used to modify problematic behavior.
The school deals with students with significant behavior problems using the Team Approach to Achieving Academic Success which offers academic, therapeutic and behavior support to these students. The model hopes to increase positive behaviors such as self-control and reduce negative behaviors such as aggression.
In July 2009, The Notebook in Philadelphia reported on Chester Community Charter School’s unusually high rate of erasure on the PSSAs. The odds that the erasures happened by chance and not as a result of cheating are over 1 in 100 trillion according to Andrew Porter, Dean of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.
CCCS founder Vahan Gureghian is the largest individual campaign contributor to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, donating $300,000 during the last election. Corbett visited the school in April 2011 and stated that CCCS was a model that the entire State of Pennsylvania needed to see.
In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education pursued litigation with Chester Community Charter School for purportedly falsely reporting students as special needs in order to receive additional state funds. As a for-profit school, all funds that go unused by the school can be kept as profit. The state pays about $9,000 a year for a traditional student but $23,000 per year for special education student. At the time, 25% of or 316 CCCS students were identified by the school as requiring special education services.
Additionally, 44% of students were identified as learning disabled. In reaction, the school retested all students within 60 days and determined that none of the students were misidentified however 19 students were identified as no longer needing special education services as a result of “overcoming” their disabilities. As a result, the Department of Education agreed to dismiss the litigation.
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