A model works

The Talent Development model, which focuses on ninth grade success, is making a difference in seven Philadelphia schools with low-income, minority students, a research study concludes.

The school improvement model clusters 9th graders into a separate “Success Academy,” usually located on its own floor or wing. Within the academy, students take classes in small learning communities of up to 125 students that share the same teachers.

Students also take extended, 80- to 90-minute block classes and double doses of courses in mathematics and language arts and reading. Students spend their remaining high school years in small career academies, where they take courses integrating academic content with their career interests.

. . . The researchers found that the percentage of 9th graders passing algebra increased from an average of 33.1 percent to 61 percent in the Talent Development schools. In comparison, that number grew from 45.2 percent to 48.7 percent in the other district schools.

Likewise, 9th grade attendance rates rose 4.6 percentage points in the Talent Development schools, but declined by half a percentage point in the non-Talent Development schools.

TD students average 40 absent days a year versus 49 days off for non-TD students. Philadelphia’s school year runs 188 days, so these kids are missing 21 to 26 percent of instructional time.

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  1. Richard Brandshaft says:

    Such pilot programs are staffed by self-starting enthusiasts. Their performance is mainly a one-way test. If even the enthusiasts who started the program can’t make it work, it probably isn’t going to. If they can make it work, they’ve changed the lives of a few dozen or a few hundred students for the better. That’s worth while in itself, but such programs frequently make don’t make the leap from “lab prototype” to “mass production.”

  2. And the obvious question of course is: why?

  3. Mr. Davis says:

    The answer is the Hawthorne effect.

  4. Oh, so this is why my brother’s Houston high school is suddenly going back to block scheduling and doing this weird “academies” thing. Even though he requested to be put in the Humanities or Science academies, he’s being forced into the marketing academy.

  5. The Hawthorne effect’s why there’s so little interest in public education system in the pursuit of successful ideas and teachers? I don’t think so.

  6. 40 days of absence!? Jeez, at most private schools that would get you not invited to return, if not expelled. Maybe that’s part of the missing achievement gap data (don’t know, haven’t looked) — you may not be learning if the butt is in the seat, but you are definitely not learning if you aren’t in class.