Middle School Matters

Lena Pope is pleased to announce an expansion of Chapel Hill Academy to include 6th ,7th and 8th grades. The decision to expand was driven by research revealing a need to provide high-quality educational experiences for students beyond 5th grade.

While early education is vital to long-term academic success, the middle school years remain highly meaningful. It’s a time of major change for adolescents. Research shows that, on average, children’s grades drop dramatically during the first year of middle school compared to their grades in elementary school. And, a 12 percent drop in trust occurs between elementary and middle school. Students also become less interested in school, less self-assured about their abilities, and more stressed about academics and social interactions during this time in their lives.

The need for expansion was also demonstrated through the Lena Pope’s ongoing multi-year longitudinal study that tracks CHA’s graduated 5th grade students through high school graduation. It measures how well CHA has prepared students for middles school, high school and postsecondary success. The study reveals that students leaving CHA after 5th grade outperform traditional/ISD peers in all subjects and on the state standardized tests. Yet they show significant regression in STAAR Math and Reading upon completion of ISD 6th and 7th grade.  This academic data suggests CHA’s students will benefit from having continued access to the high-quality educational and social-emotional experiences offered at Lena Pope’s charter school.

And, the expansion will fill a gap. While the surrounding area offers 33 choice or specialty school options for high school, there are only 20 choice or specialty school options for middle school. CHA will now provide another option with strong academics and specialized learning services accompanied by a continued focus on family engagement. In Tarrant County, where 51 percent of students are identified at risk of dropping out of school, let alone graduating prepared for college or workforce entry, such programs are critical.

The expansion plan includes building approximately 25,000 sq. ft. of space at the current campus. Classrooms, offices and cafeteria space will be designed in alignment with the original charter commitment to best practices in learning. Rollout of the additional grades begins with 6th grade in Fall 2018. The 7th and 8th grades will be added in Fall 2019 and Fall 2020 respectively.

In addition to the middle school grades, Lena Pope was also granted permission by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to increase enrollment to accommodate more of the nearly 400 children on the current waitlist, and to expand the geographic boundary of the school. The expansion of CHA will allow Lena Pope to continue serving the ethnically diverse, predominantly lower-income students who are currently educated in the elementary grades.

Construction of the additional campus infrastructure is already underway and giving opportunities are available to support the expansion. For more information, please contact Lynda Gearheart, Lena Pope’s Director of Development, at 817-255-2606.