Equity Lab Charter School

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Need for Equity Lab

When looking at educational and economic trends across Lawrence, Haverhill, and Methuen, Lawrence has a poverty rate that is twice the state average while Haverhill and Methuen have poverty rates that are close to the state average of 11%. Haverhill and Methuen have significantly higher percentages of owner-occupied housing when compared to Lawrence. When comparing education status, Lawrence has significantly lower percentages of high school students who have graduated and have gone on to post-secondary education.

When taking a closer look at the graduation and dropout rates among subgroups (ELs, students with disabilities, low-income, and Latinos), subgroups are performing significantly lower than the general populations in each community.

Lawrence, Haverhill, and Methuen (LHM) have few educational options at the middle and high school levels. In Lawrence, Community Day Charter Public School offers grades Pre-K to 6, and Lawrence Family Development Charter School serves students in grades Pre-K to 8. Phoenix Charter Academy Lawrence serves LHM students in grades 9 to 12. In Haverhill, Hill Montessori Charter Public Schools serves K to 8 students, and Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School offers grades K to 5. The Haverhill Education Association (the union representing the city’s public school teachers) voted against the renewal of Silver Hill’s charter status. 

Among the three communities, 2,429 students are on charter school waiting lists (ESE, 2017). Based upon conversations with families and community leaders, families with English Learners and students with disabilities are looking for more education options.

In 2018, we began to host Family Information sessions that rotated among Lawrence, Haverhill, and Methuen. We chose popular local hangouts such as El Taller in Lawrence to host these sessions. The following chart shows how the design elements address educational priorities of Lawrence, Haverhill, and Methuen (LHM) families:


Educational Priorities of Lawrence, Haverhill, and Methuen Families  How Our School Design Addresses Priorities
Support students with disabilities Inclusive and Social Emotional learning ensures that students with disabilities have full participation and access to the education program.
 Support English Learners Inclusive and Social Emotional learning ensures that English Learners have full participation and access to the education program.
Build student agency through social change projects that improve their communities Project-based learning (with a focus on social entrepreneurship) provides a clear structure for how to help student problem-solve challenges in their community.
Provide a warm, safe, and welcoming school environment Community-based learning provides students with opportunities to do deep dives into local cultures and to take advantage of community-based opportunities to learn languages.
Connect students with mentors and tutors Community-based learning connects students with mentors, tutors, and internships linked to college and career settings.
Use art and music to support youth development Creative Learning supports intellectual, physical, emotional, and social development through daily access to art and music.
Provide an extended day program The school program is 8.5 hours per day—8:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Use positive rather than punitive approaches for student discipline Organizing students into small learning communities (project advisories) and the use of restorative justice as a proactive discipline system ensures a positive school environment.
Give students opportunities to move every day Creative Learning supports intellectual, physical, emotional, and social development through daily movement.