Independence Charter School (ICS) is a community-based K-8 public charter school of academic excellence, centrally located in Philadelphia and serving a diverse community of learners. ICS provides an intellectually-stimulating curriculum with a global focus designed to develop independent, thoughtful global citizens. We emphasize second language acquisition and integrate arts, ideas, and histories from around the world.
Independence Charter School will foster equity and excellence in learning by embracing global citizenship, bilingual education, rigorous academics and creative expression through the arts.
A team of special education teachers works closely with grade-level teachers and specialists to provide identified students with specialized instruction in the classroom (push-in) or in a resource room setting (pull-out). ICS practices full inclusion and provides support within that model to benefit the individual student. Independence Charter special education students participate in all classes and competitions. Learn more on our Special Education page.
Board of Trustees
ICS is governed by a Board of Trustees, with two board positions reserved for elected parent representatives.
Minutes & Fiscal
Educational Program 1:
Global Citizenship Emphasis
ICS’ Global Citizenship principles help students to challenge stereotypes and misinformation, make responsible decisions, respect multiple points of view and take action to make a positive change in the world. The Oxfam Education for Global Citizenship Curriculum and the Social Justice Standards from the Teaching Tolerance Anti-Bias Framework both serve as a guide for how we seek to develop our instructional world view. This is how we build the lens through which we and our students develop our concepts of identity, global community, and principles of justice and civic responsibility. The principles outlined in these documents are present in our Responsive Classroom, Need in Deed, and Second Step programs, our celebration of Human Rights Month and Global Citizenship Day. Social Studies is the pivotal center where these programs and celebrations meet – through our curriculum we intentionally provide historical and social context to these school-wide practices.
All grades begin the year with an extensive geography unit. In grades K-5, students explore either one or two countries over the course of each school year. Students are exposed to what children their age experience in regions around the world. Students in grades 6-8 have four (4) Social Studies periods per week. Social Studies lessons, as well as lessons across the curriculum, are conducted through a global citizenship and social justice lens.
Educational Program 2:
Second Language Acquisition
Since its inception, ICS has had a two language program model— (1) a Spanish Immersion language program and (2) an Enhanced Spanish language program. All students at ICS receive Spanish language instruction.
In our Spanish Immersion program, students are taught in Spanish for all core subject areas for about 85% of the school day in grades K-2. Arts/Science classes and English Language Arts classes are taught in English. Starting in grade 3, the percentage of Spanish Immersion instruction decreases to about 65% because students begin receiving more intensive English Language Arts instruction each day. In grades 4-5, total Immersion instruction is reduced to 45% of the day and decreases again to 30% in grades 6-8 as students begin taking more intensive math and science courses. Students who graduate from our Spanish Immersion program can typically test into upper level Spanish courses in high school and are comfortable and confident speaking Spanish fluently in everyday situations.
In our Spanish Enhanced program, students receive 30-45 minutes of Spanish language instruction 4-5 days per week, depending on their grade level. Students who graduate from our Spanish Enhanced program are typically ready to start with Spanish 2 in high school. In addition, there are 3 Spanish Lead Teachers who assist the Instructional Coach, Assistant Principal, and Principal in coaching our Spanish teachers, improving our Spanish Language curriculum, and in identifying additional supports for students struggling with second language acquisition.
Educational Program 3:
Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to teaching that focuses on engaging academics, positive community, effective management, and developmental awareness. ICS uses Responsive Classroom to help create safe and joyful learning communities where students develop strong social and academic skills. By following the Responsive Classroom’s framework, students are encouraged to self-regulate. Community time provides space to reflect and have challenging conversations. Students have an opportunity to correct both academic and social mistakes and learn from them through test corrections and “fix-it” plans. The Responsive Classroom approach is associated with higher academic achievement in math and reading, improved school climate, and higher-quality instruction. Supported by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) program.
Educational Program 4:
ICS uses creative expression as a tool to explore self and relationship to the immediate community and the world. All students receive art, music, and dance/movement instruction in grades K–5. A wide range of rotating electives is offered to middle school students. Examples include but are not limited to poetry, cooking, robotics, and graphic design. In addition, ICS produces a musical each year, involving more than 80 students and offers an afterschool violin class to students in grades 3 and up.
ICS takes advantage of the major educational and cultural programs and facilities in the community such as Plays and Players Theater, Dancing Classrooms, Philadelphia Young Playwrights, Barnes Museum, Kimmel Center, Rhythm Kids and Fleisher Art Memorial.
We create a just learning environment that provides all learners with what they need to feel and be healthy, safe, and affirmed.
We take risks and do difficult things every day because learning strengthens our relationships to ourselves.
We honor and celebrate the fullness of our individual and collective humanity.
We accept the challenge and joy of standing for who we are and for everyone’s right to be themselves.
Student to Teacher Ratio
Serving Students in Over
Special Education Students
Receiving free/ reduced lunch
English Language Arts
Coordinator of Specialized Services
Dean of Students
Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction
Chief Executive Officer
Director of Operations