Rigorous Instructional Program
Chester Community Charter School is committed to an educational framework that meets or exceeds state content standards. Our curriculum is mapped to the Pennsylvania content standards and its assessment anchors. The curriculum maps are reviewed and revised annually with the entire faculty. This review takes place during a one-week staff development/curriculum development activity at the end of each school year and again as a follow-up activity a week before school starts in September. In 2009 the school implemented a research-based writing program, Step Up to Writing. Adopted textbooks and supplemental resource materials support the scope and sequence of the curriculum maps and state standards.
Curriculum maps are developed from the Chapter 4 content standards. These maps serve as a guide for instruction. They also facilitate the basis for assessment and remediation. The curriculum materials used by CCCS meet the PA state curriculum standards and are scientifically research based. The planned instruction is aligned to the sequence of the standards and assessment anchors. Some of the book publishers used to support instruction includes the following: Harcourt Brace, Pearson, and Prentice Hall. Documentation of alignment is reflected in the scope and sequence of the researched-based textbooks and teacher resource manuals.
The curriculum is organized to meet the developmental and academic needs of our students by a student-by-student tracking process that looks at each child’s progress as measured by assessments linked directly to the standards mentioned above. This information is both aggregated to get school-wide data on our progress and disaggregated to get classroom and student group level information to guide teacher planning. CCCS administers the ForSight and GRADE Benchmark assessment system to monitor the progress of all students in the testing grades (3-8). DIBELS and GRADE are administered to grades K-2. The process allowed school personnel to closely monitor student achievement and it also identified specific skills for remediation.
Our school's mission is to empower students as learners and one of the ways that we implement this mission is through the inquiry-based methodology. We accomplish this by utilizing methods such as multiple-intelligences, cooperative and collaborative learning and meeting the state standards by ensuring that they are incorporated early in planning lessons and guiding students toward questions that will help them learn the required materials. Teachers are encouraged to use the Bloom’s Taxonomy approach that helps in designing lessons and sharpens students’ critical thinking skills. Teachers have been trained in differentiated instruction and scaffolding strategies that are designed to increase student retention and understanding of the content knowledge. Renzulli learning approach was implemented in the fall of 2009 and continues to be implemented in order to support the instructional program of students assigned to the enrichment program. Professional development was provided to staff on the Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM). This delivery approach focuses on enrichment for all students through high levels of engagement and challenging learning experiences constructed around students’ interests.
To accelerate academic skill development for students who are performing significantly below grade level, CCCS provides a host of strategies and programs to support student achievement. First, teachers are encouraged and trained in to use a variety of teaching strategies to engage students in the classrooms. Again these strategies include differentiated instruction, cooperative learning, and scaffolding.
We rely on our DIBELS monitoring progress data to assess student growth in grades K-3 and align instructional strategies to meet student needs. Our DIBELS data show that our students are making progress in reading at all levels. Students are moving from the minimal level to the basic and proficient/levels throughout the year. Collaborative planning and professional development continue to help our teachers in their pursuing academic success for all students.
Instructional technology plays a major focus in the supporting students who are below standard in literacy and numeracy skills. All students in grades three to eight have been given access to an XO laptop computer in order to expand his/her access to technology. This gift/investment assist in closing the digital divide and ensuring that the students of CCCS have educational tools they need to succeed in the 21st century. The XOs have been used to facilitate student writing, accessing of information on the internet and using the laptop for the purpose of assisting students in improving numeracy skills. Our use of Direct Instruction also facilitates the advancement of these students as well as addressing the needs of students who come to us performing significantly below standards in literacy and mathematics skills. A partnership with the University of Delaware’s computer science department has resulted in a collaborative effort to design educational software for the XOs. This research has expanded the XO usage with students in the areas such as, online quizzes, resourceful educational games and grammar correction programs. Also in many of the classrooms, Smartboards have been installed to assist in instruction.
On-site Afterschool tutorial services are offered to students who qualify for the support. These extra academic services provide tutoring and remedial help to students in reading, language arts and math. In addition, qualified grade tutors are hired to offer additional support to students. These degreed professionals provided daily tutoring sessions in literacy and numeracy skills to students who were identified as functioning below grade level. The tutoring was individualized and tailored to the needs of the students. CCCS also receives students from Neuman College and Widener University who serve as tutors for low performing students in grades K-2.
To achieve all of the above we have a dual methodological focus. In our lower school we use Direct Instruction to make certain that all of our children become proficient in the basic skills. A thematic approach to curriculum that is spiraled to foster in depth learning while maintaining the overall growth is used in the upper grades.
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