Through a rigorous classical curriculum and within a structured, supportive community, Ethos Classical Charter School ensures every K-5 student is on the path to college and a life of opportunity.
Literacy Outcomes in Elementary Define a Student’s College and Career Readiness.
Literacy is the foundation on which all academic success is built, opening access to challenging subject matter and critical thinking in later grades and life pursuits after high school graduation. With a concrete foundation in literacy in place for every learner at the end of elementary school, each student will be able to graduate and select the college or career of their choice. The literacy demands required for productive engagement in any sector are increasingly complex and demand highly skilled, capable readers. In determining college and career readiness, ACT has identified a specific reading skill—the ability to comprehend challenging, complex texts of various kinds—as particularly important to success in the first year of college. Students whose ACT scores meet or exceed a specific benchmark on text complexity are found significantly more likely to enroll in college, earn a higher overall GPA in year one, and return to the same college for a second year.[i] Ethos Classical will prepare students to meet 21st century literacy demands and the demands of a rigorous IB curriculum in later years. We will achieve this through research-based, standard-driven innovations in literacy within a classical curriculum uniquely offered within the Mays and Therrell clusters, reduced student to teacher ratio critical for school and life success for a wide variety of learners, a full blended learning model shown to be particularly impactful for students with disabilities or for whom English is not their first language, 260 minutes of dedicated daily literacy instruction that support ambitious academic goals outlined in this charter petition and aligned to state and district goals, and highly qualified, trained teachers prepared to teach literacy at a high rate of impact. The combination of these innovations dramatically “increase the number of college and career prep opportunities,” a central priority of the Mays Cluster.
[i]What Studies Say About College Readiness. EWA Research Brief. 2012.
Reduced Ratio Classrooms Yield Higher Student Outcomes in Literacy
Every element of Ethos Classical promotes a literacy foundation for students to springboard into success in IB programs in middle and high school, and later the college or career of their choice. In K-3, two high capacity, highly qualified teachers lead each class for 260 minutes of daily literacy instruction. National Education Association (NEA) President Dennis Van Roekel emphasizes the need for autonomy in achieving a reduced ratio in core contents: “[M]eaningful reductions in class sizes have been difficult to achieve because of tight school budgets and competing priorities…The proven long-term benefits of reducing class sizes—achievement gains and higher graduation rates—should help determine our priorities. The long-term consequences of not reducing class sizes will have a negative impact on our children’s futures.”[i] Research shows that after two years in reduced size classes, children in a second grade classroom scored higher on reading skills than those who educated in a regular class size.[ii] Given the rigorous literacy demands of quality IB Middle Years and Diploma Program, it is essential to invest additional human capital to ensure each child is develops the capacity to understand and interrogate every text she reads. By increasing the individual attention each child receives, Ethos Classical delivers “consistent delivery and resources” that “build content and capacity for conceptual thinking” during literacy instruction, a guiding priority of the Therrell cluster.
[i] Class Size Reduction: A Proven Reform Strategy. NEA Policy Briefing. 2008.
[ii] Gee, J. (1989). “Literacy, discourse, and linguistics: introduction and what is literacy.” In Cushman, E., Kintgen, E.R., Kroll, B.M., & Rose, M. (Eds.) Literacy: A Critical Sourcebook (pp. 525-544). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Blended Learning Magnifies the Impact of a Reduced Ratio Classroom
As a unique component of our approach to ensuring high levels of literacy for all learners, in three rotating sub-groups, nine students work daily in blended learning stations on computer-based modules while each of the two other sub-groups of nine works with a highly qualified individual teacher on reading or math lessons. With the compliment of an adaptive literacy and math-based computer station in every classroom, a small student to ratio is realized as students are challenged and supported in adaptive content. The District of Columbia Public Schools proves the effectiveness of a blended learning model. Since 2013–14, district and school leaders have redesigned 17 schools (10 elementary, 4 middle, 3 high) to incorporate blended learning. Extensive studies by the district find that students in blended math classes outperform students in traditional math classes. Students in blended reading classes are more likely to improve their state test scores than students in traditional reading classes. DCPS improvements on the National Assessment of Educational Progress Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) also outpace national averages.[i] Beyond the impact on student achievement, student participation in blended learning seamlessly “expands technology access and integration across the curriculum,” a stated priority of the Therrell Cluster.
[i] “Proof Points: Blended Learning Success in School Districts.” DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS Washington, D.C.
Expanded Learning Time through an Extended Day Supports Blended Learning
Together, blended learning and expanded learning time increase student achievement across all subgroups, and with particular positive impact on students receiving special education services or identified as English Language Learners. Blended learning maximizes time spent in class by creating additional opportunities for teachers to deliver small group, individualized instruction, and by allowing students to self-direct their learning through adaptive technology. Effective implementation of blended learning is aided by more time for students and teachers. A longer day allows greater flexibility in determining class length in which blended learning occurs and in exercising options to create new blended classes without impacting existing courses. Expanded learning time provides additional teacher development opportunities—through increased planning, collaboration, coaching, peer observation, and professional development. In a case-study of six blended learning, expanded learning time schools, The National Center on Time and Learning finds that “expanded learning time allows schools to deliver both breadth and depth, thus providing students with greater opportunities not just in the classroom, but beyond as they approach college and careers,”[i] directly supporting the aim of the Mays Cluster to “Prepare all students for college and career success” by “Increas[ing] the number of college and career prep opportunities.”
Arts Enrichment Catalyzes Whole Child Development.
Within our uniquely designed school, we provide a robust arts curriculum, shown to have a positive impact on student achievement across content areas and on a child’s social and personal development. Our Arts Enrichment further allows us to build interdisciplinary connections within a classical, blended learning curriculum. We know that involvement in the arts fosters the growth of key cognitive skills. According to studies from Stanford University, these skills include the ability to examine qualitative relationships and manage problems with multiple solutions. Correlations exist between music training, reading acquisition, and sequence learning. One predictor of early literacy - phonological awareness - is correlated with music training and the development of a specific brain pathway. Participation in the arts helps students improve social skills. Students with lower socio-economic status who had sustained involvement in theatre arts were shown over time to have greater self-confidence, motivation, and empathy than did their non-arts peers, according to a 10-year national study of over 25,000 high school students. Evidence from a wide range of school- and community-based arts programs suggests that the arts can be instrumental in resolving conflicts, deterring problems with attendance and disruptive behavior, and building self-respect, self-efficacy, resilience, empathy, collaborative skills, and other characteristics and capacities linked to high achievement. Ethos Classical’s demonstrated emphasis on the arts, as seen through students engaging in art daily, provides a robust arts program that develops both the socio-emotional development of students, both articulated priorities of the Mays and Therrell clusters.
Whole Child Development is Achieved for All through Tailored School and Home Supports.
There is no group of children at greater risk than low-income students with disabilities. Ethos Classical believes it is our responsibility to empower families, especially families in low-income communities, with catalytic school to home supports to meet the specific needs of their children in out-of-school time. In order for all children to be truly successful, and especially for students with learning differences, there must be complimentary learning structures that equip families with the tools to extend the learning from the classroom into the home. Through an innovative Special Education staffing model, Ethos Classical stands ready to meet all federally mandated services for students with disabilities within the school day, while exceeding those requirements by providing access to tailored education and training services on how to best to supports the needs of all learners to families throughout the year in out-of-school time. This innovation in supporting students with special needs will ensure ALL students at Ethos Classical are provided a life of opportunity while providing the “wrap around services” and “programming to address Special Education students” that are named as key priorities of the Mays and Therrell Cluster strategic plans.
High-Quality Teachers are the Foundation of Academic Achievement and Innovation.
We recruit mission-driven staff, pay competitive salaries, and provide professional development 18 days of in the summer and 13 days during the year, not including weekly dedicated professional development staff receives each Friday. A continuous observation/feedback loop builds a culture of continuous instructional improvement for each teacher and exceptional results for each student. Teacher quality is tied to the feedback provided, not only on the act of teaching, but also on the results of teaching. Teachers utilize data to gauge the effectiveness of their instructional innovations, to determine individualized areas of strength and need for improvement, and to problem-solve to increase impact for all learners. Teachers work more effectively, efficiently, and persistently while gauging their efforts against results.[i] Ethos Classical adopts this approach in the support of our teachers and staff, and most importantly, our students. Working with Profound Gentlemen and Black Teacher Collaborative (EXHBIT 27) we will recruit and support a diverse, high-quality team, with teachers determined to, and capable of, delivering our mission for every student across all subgroups.[ii]
The aim and spirit of our curriculum and innovations are embedded in our name—Ethos Classical. The word Ethos is defined as the guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution, and Classical represents an exemplary standard. Our curriculum is aimed at identifying and implementing research-based, proven practices that provide the highest standard of excellence for our students. Combining a classical literacy curriculum unavailable to our target community with a unique and progressive blended learning model across content areas, our curriculum is poised to achieve our mission of matriculating all fifth grade students positioned for success in a rigorous Middle Years IB Program and a life of opportunity.
[i] Schmoker, M. (2006). Results now: how can we achieve unprecedented improvements in teaching and learning. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
[ii] Chetty, Raj, John Friedman, and Jonah Rockoff, (2012) The Long Term Impact of Teachers: Teacher Value-Add and Student Outcomes in Adulthood. Retrieved from: http://obs.rc.fas.harvard.edu/chetty/value_added.html.