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Our Story

Foundations Matter! We see huge unmet needs for children at public schools in San Antonio, Texas. We want to open 7Cs Academy, a public elementary school to serve families in San Antonio. Children need a strong foundation, starting in PreKindergarten. Literacy, numeracy, and SEL are non-negotiable competencies for every child. 7CsThrive was established as a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization on April 5, 2019. We have held multiple informal and fomal public meetings in San Antonio to engage the community. We continue to share our vision of whole child education with families. On January 21, 2020, we were one of 29 entities who submitted a charter application to the Texas Education Agency (TEA). We accomplished our first milestone on January 21, 2020. Our 347-page application for the school is now on a 9-month journey. Thank you for joining us on this exciting journey.


Next, the review process involved a completion check by TEA staff. This is the second milestone we crossed on February 11, 2020. Then, the Commissioner of Education determined eligibility. We are happy to report that on February 27, 2020 the Commissioner, after careful review of our 36-page cures and "consideration of all documentation provided during the Remedy Period," had determined that our "application submitted for 7Cs Academy is now complete." Having reached the third major milestone, our Charter Application (along with 15 other applicants) will now "advance to both Internal and External Review." TEA does not score our applications. Instead, each "complete" Charter Application is independently reviewed by five randomly assigned reviewers. On April 1, 2020 we received an update on our Charter Application. We were excited to learn that our application is "still currently in the external review process" (that puts us half-way, 50 percent, into the process). 


The complete 7Cs Academy application will be scored over the next three months by the external reviewers. There was a reminder from TEA on April 28, 2020 for sponsoring entities to have their 501(c)(3) Letter of Determination from Internal Revenue Service (IRS) submitted to the Agency on or before May 15, 2020. 7CsThrive included our determination letter from IRS (dated April 5, 2019) along with our original application on January 21, 2020. Therefore no further action is required. Our fourth milestone will be reached "on (or around)" June 10 2020.  That is when "all Letters of Determination are scheduled to go out." The state will determine if we meet the 85 percent minimum cut score threshold in these external reviews. Per the April 28 letter from TEA, "in terms of our external review timeline, we are still on course to send out the final scores and determinations on June 10, 2020." That's just six weeks from today! 


DISAPPOINTING NEWS TODAY - June 10, 2020!

We just heard from TEA that 7Cs Academy would be removed from consideration for a Generation 25 Charter School because we missed the cut score of 85 percent (see the letter from the Agency and my summary table of average scores from the five readers). The Board of Directors and I are grateful and happy that we came this far in the process as new entrants to public charter schools. We trust TEA's processThe feedback form the Readers is going to help us submit a stronger Generation 26 Charter Application in 2021. Even the Reader who scored our Application with a 62 percent overall score and wrote "I'm not familiar with the TX state law . . ." observed that our "Start-up Plan is detailed and quite strong compared to many that I have seen in the past." The Reader who scored our Application with a 69 percent overall score gave us this feedback "This reader would like to start by commending the application team on the passion they clearly show for educating young people. This application is nothing if not a passionate call to action." The Reader who scored our Application with a 75 percent overall score noted "This reader concludes that the proposed model should provide students and families with an innovative high-quality option for school choice." The Reader who scored our Application at 83 percent agreed "The biggest strength of this application is that it is innovative." Even the Reader who scored our Application with a 88 percent overall score gave us feedback that we will use with our continuous improvement efforts next year. We will hopefully have better luck in 2021 with our Generation 26 Charter Application. Meanwhile, we want to WISH OUR FRIENDS who make it past today the VERY BEST on their final three milestones. 


After additional review and internal analysis by TEA in June 2020, Commissioner Morath could advance a few applications for a "capacity interview" during the week of July 27, 2020. That would be the fifth milestone. The charter school division is "exploring the most appropriate platform(s) to conduct the interviews." After a successful capacity interview and further consideration, the Commissioner might recommend one or more Charters to the State Board of Education in August 2020. That would be the sixth milestone.  SBOE Members will have the final word. After deliberations by the SBOE Committee on School Initiatives, the entire SBOE will vote to take no action or veto the Commissioner's recommendation on September 11, 2020. That day would conclude the seventh and final milestone for the successful and deserving Gen 25 charter applicants in Texas.


On a weekly basis, we are reminded about the huge unmet needs that persist for families in San Antonio. Our Board and CEO continue to engage families and the community. We always ask them, do you know how your child's school is rated by the Texas Education Agency? We are finding out that families are often not aware of this information. On February 23, 2020, upon learning about how her children's school was doing academically, a family responded to our survey "Necesito cambiar escuela" ("I need to change school"). Public schools must meet the needs of families. Leadership matters. Customers matter. Purpose matters. Professor Ted Levitt called it 60 years ago! Like every family, the Board and CEO of 7CsThrive believe student outcomes should matter. Do you know how your child's school is doing?


Clearly, 7Cs Academy is a new entrant to the charter sector. November 1, 2019 was when our Board of Directors and CEO officially entered the charter arena to positively improve student outcomes through public education. Our CEO has served as a key member of Executive Teams in traditional public schools for over a decade. Research shows that the quality of new entrants substantially increases "mathematics and reading value-added" scores "relative to traditional public schools." 


As a recent San Antonio Express-News article highlights, the city remains educationally the most challenging major metropolitan area for public schools in Texas. Our CEO knows poverty is not destiny. His story proves that destiny is forever changed through equity. Access and opportunities matter! Let us champion equity and excellence for every child in San Antonio. This means every child must be educated and productive as defined in our Core Principles. We know that with your support, we will prevail in this difficult journey. The journey will become easier as innovative public charter schools like 7Cs Academy share best practices with traditional public schools. 


In response to our RFQ No. 2020-01 for Architectural and Engineering Services to Provide Multi-Phase Design Solutions for 7Cs Academy, several companies are scheduled to present their conceptual plans to the Board of Directors and CEO on May 6, 2020. Achieving our seventh milestone in September 2020 (as described above), we will open our first elementary school in August 2021.   

Meet Our Leader

Dr. Nathan Balasubramanian is the chief education officer at 7CsThrive. He believes there is a lot of compelling data on student learning to improve public education. And yet, the current reality is that the data “baby” is thrown out with plenty of actionable “bath water.” He is on a mission to stop this data waste and transform public education with actionable knowledge guided by his vision.


Dr. Balasubramanian holds a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Educational Leadership and Innovation from the University of Colorado. He also has a master’s degree in educational management from the University of Sheffield in the UK and a master’s degree in physics from the University of Madras in India. 

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