Springfield Public Schools - Home

Ball Charter School

2530 Ash Street
Springfield, IL 62703
2012 School Report Card


What is a charter school?

A charter school is a public school, but it is an independent public school—one that is free from some of the regulations that may stand in the way of achieving educational excellence. A charter school is held accountable for how well it educates its children. It operates under a mandate for high standards and it must deliver. The Illinois State Board of Education must approve the charter school's program.

Who can attend Springfield Ball Charter School?

Any child who resides within the boundaries of District 186 may apply to enroll in Ball Charter School. Ball Charter School is a school of choice in the District.

How is Ball Charter School governed and financed?

Ball Charter School is a not-for-profit organization that has its own 7-member Board of Directors. Currently, the District Board of Education appoints two community members and one District staff representative. The Ball Charter School appoints one parent from the K-4 grade level and one from the 5-8 grade level, as well as one representative from the Springfield community. Ball Charter School receives funds from District 186 (currently 75% of the per capita pupil expenditure for district students). District 186 provides transportation, cafeteria, and special education services to the school.

How do you get into Ball Charter? Are there entry requirements or exams?

Enrollment is open to all children regardless of ability, race, creed, color, gender, national origin, ancestry, or need for special services. Applications are accepted through the school year until the end of January and a lottery selection follows during the month of February. There is no selection criterion except that siblings of current students receive priority in the lottery in order to keep families together.


"In Springfield, there has been support from the citizens and the school district. You don't find that combination of circumstances very often. Here we have sort of a blessed moment." - Carl Ball, Springfield State Journal Register, 1998 Carl Ball, a horticulture business owner from Glen Ellyn, Illinois, established the Ball Foundation in 1975. Mr. Ball was extremely interested in helping schools be more productive. Mr. Ball approached the Springfield School District in 1993 about being a partner district for the School Design Collaborative. The framework for the SDC focused on student achievement using a systems approach, partnering, research and development and productivity models. Soon there were several elementary schools in Springfield partnering with the Ball Foundation. In 1998, District 186 and the foundation created one of the first Illinois charter schools. The Springfield Ball Charter School, currently one of the most successful charter schools in the state, serves 378 K through grade 8 students.

Is there tuition charged at Ball Charter School?

No. Ball Charter School is a public school that charges no tuition for kindergarten through 8th grade.

What is the purpose of the Ball Charter School's existence?

The mission of the Ball Charter School is to create a safe, nurturing environment that fosters learning through the development of high quality, research-based academic programs, attention to the learning needs of individual children, and the involvement of parents in their children's education. The school was created with the intention of being a laboratory-type school which was given the flexibility to try new instructional strategies, staff development models, and curriculum modifications that could be evaluated for effectiveness and possible duplication in other schools in the district.

Four Focus Areas

Literacy (Reading/Language Arts):
The literacy goal of the Ball Charter School is to provide research-based instruction and appropriate intervention, which will result in every student being able to read and write at or above grade level state standards. Teaching students to read and to communicate their thoughts in oral and written form is of primary concern. A strong commitment to early literacy learning is evidenced through instruction that begins with the preschool program. In conjunction with the literacy goal, the Charter School provides foreign language instruction so that all students will have the opportunity to speak, read and write Spanish.

Numeracy (Arithmetic/Mathematics):
The numeracy goal of the Ball Charter School is to develop students' ability to use mathematics to solve problems and understand information in mathematical terms. Instruction incorporates the use of hands-on activities using math manipulatives as tools for the development of students' understanding of mathematical concepts.

Multiaged Grouping:
Multiage grouping is a mixed-age group of children who will stay with the same teacher until the student progresses to the next program level. Ball Charter currently has four program levels ( 1st/2nd grades, 3rd/4th grades, 5th/6th grades and 7th/8th grades) each level has four classrooms of students. Multiage education encourages children to grow as far as their minds and abilities can take them.
• Students Are Individuals - Each child is unique. Every student has an individual pattern of academic, physical, and social development. Flexible grouping of children is based on academic needs and interest.
• Multiyear Placement With Teacher - Students stay with the same teacher for more than one year. This maximizes their learning time and builds stronger relationships between educators, students and families.
• Balanced Classrooms - Average classroom size is 21 students and are balanced according to age, gender, race, academic and social maturity.
• A Community of Learners - Students play a variety of roles, such as leaders, problem solvers and critical thinkers.

Professional Development for Teachers:
To assist teachers in continually improving their instruction, professional development time is incorporated to provide continuing teacher support, opportunities for teacher collaboration and joint planning, and assessment of the impact of innovations on student achievement.Standards Based Curriculum


Springfield Ball Charter School teachers create their own curriculum. The curriculum at the school is standards based and reflects what students must know and learn. The curriculum follows the standards and skill-based continuum developed by Bonnie Campbell Hill, as well as the Illinois State Learning Standards. The Illinois State Standards closely coincide with the standards listed in the continuum developed by Hill.
Teachers begin curriculum development by looking at the standards and skills their students need to master or secure to move forward on the learning continuum. The teacher then looks for books and activities that will help teach these standards. Teachers work in teams, by the various levels, to plan and implement best practice strategies that will address the various skills and standards that are to be taught.
The units taught in the middle-level are organized by a central theme. This theme provides the connection between disciplines and attempts to make connections between students and the real world. One such example would be the unit conflict. The essential question that drives the unit is "How does conflict cause change"? Teachers then promote discussion amongst the students through analyzing character traits in novels, studying conflict in history as well as the environment. This type of curriculum planning not only addresses the standards and content but also promotes the necessary critical thinking that the Illinois Student Achievement Test (ISAT) requires of the children we teach. The use of essential questioning and curriculum planning for the middle level stems from the work of Heidi Hayes Jacobs and her book Mapping the Big Picture.
Rather than choose the essential question and topic first, teachers at SBCS look at what students must know and learn first and then choose themes and topics accordingly. This is much different from the way most schools deliver curriculum to students. Textbooks do not drive what we teach, standards do.

Math ContinuumsPrimary Math
Upper Primary Math
Intermediate Math
Middle Level Math
Writing ContinuumAll levels: Writing Continuum
Reading ContinuumAll levels: Writing Continuum
2018 - 2019 Application While the Application Period for new students is held in January/February each year, applications are accepted throughout the year. A waiting list is created at each grade level when there are more applicants than available spots for enrollment. Please fill out this form and return to the SBCS Office if your family is interested in applying to SBCS.
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Administration Bio Pages
2015-2016 Handbook