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 at the end of elementary school, a 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 met or exceeded a specific benchmark on text complexity were 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 through research-based innovations in literacy with a classical curriculum, reduced student to teacher ratio, a full blended learning model, 260 minutes of dedicated daily literacy instruction, and highly qualified, trained teachers.
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 middle and high school, and 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. 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.”[ii] 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.[iii]
Blended Learning Magnifies the Impact of a Reduced Ratio Classroom
In three rotating sub-groups, nine students work in blended learning stations on computer-based modules while each of the two other sub-groups of nine work with an individual teacher on reading or math lessons. With the compliment of an adaptive literacy and math-based computer station in every class, 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 found that students in blended math classes outperformed students in traditional math classes. Students in blended reading classes were 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 outpaced national averages.[iv]
Expanded Learning Time through an Extended Day Supports Blended Learning
Together, blended learning and expanded learning time increase student achievement. 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.”
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 areas of strength and need for improvement, and to problem-solve to increase impact. Teachers work more effectively, efficiently, and persistently while gauging their efforts against results.[vi] Ethos Classical adopts this approach in the support of our teachers and staff, and most importantly, our students. We will recruit and support a high quality team, with teachers determined to, and capable of, delivering our mission for every student.[vii]
[i]What Studies Say About College Readiness. EWA Research Brief. 2012.
[ii] Class Size Reduction: A Proven Reform Strategy. NEA Policy Briefing. 2008.
[iii] 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.
[iv] “Proof Points: Blended Learning Success in School Districts.” DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS Washington, D.C.
[vi] Schmoker, M. (2006). Results now: how can we achieve unprecedented improvements in teaching and learning. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
[vii] 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.