The Education Innovator #19
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The Education Innovator
 July 7, 2003 • Number 19
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What's inside...
Jay Cooke Middle School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
What's New
President Bush says, "What we are trying to do is give parents more options," at event supporting public school choice in the District of Columbia.
Innovations in the News
A provision in the Ohio state budget allows Ohio to grow its school choice program by 1,000 students; plus information on scholarships, school choice, home-schooling, virtual schools and charter schools.

Jay Cooke Middle School Moves Off the State's List for Improvement
In 1997, the Jay Cooke Middle School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, faced a crisis: the school had low test scores, in fact, many students scored below basic proficiency on Pennsylvania state tests. The school was identified as needing improvement, and the state was considering a take-over. The staff at the Jay Cooke Middle School took action and voted to adopt a new reform model.

They adopted the Talent Development Middle School (TDMS) model, and just three years after its implementation, Jay Cooke Middle School moved off Pennsylvania's improvement list. Teaching improved, test scores rose, absenteeism was cut, and more students were being promoted to the next grade level.

The TDMS program, developed at Johns Hopkins University, contains eight fundamental components. Through the standards driven curriculum in math, reading/language arts, social studies, and science, supplemented by research-based instruction, school organization, and professional development, all students are provided with tools to learn challenging academic material.

Some of the elements in the TDMS model that were used at the Jay Cooke School include:

  • Student Team Literature, a cooperative learning approach to teaching and learning reading, English, and language arts (RELA);
  • A mathematics curriculum built around materials, developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project, that blend skill building with problem solving;
  • A hands-on, inquiry-oriented science curriculum linked to national standards and benchmarks;
  • School organization that allows teachers, students, and families to establish close, caring relationships; and
  • Focused and sustained professional development with in-school support by highly trained facilitators.
Johns Hopkins University researchers have done an initial evaluation of the program at the school using a quasi-experimental design. The results of the innovations at Cooke were contrasted with those of a comparison school with similar characteristics. The comparison school had a similar student population with slightly higher test scores in the two years immediately before Talent Development at Cooke began. That changed as the reforms at Cooke took hold. Students at Cooke outscored students at the comparison school by 50 scale points on the state reading tests and showed significant gains on the state math tests. This study was published in the spring issue of the Journal of Curriculum and Supervision.

The Talent Development model is currently being used in 18 schools in 6 states: New Jersey, Louisiana, Washington, Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. The research at the Johns Hopkins/ Howard University Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed At Risk (CRESPAR), which developed the Talent Development Middle School reform model, was funded by the US Department of Education.

Readers are advised that the contribution of specific components of the Talent Development model to the overall results for the Jay Cooke Middle School cannot be determined. For more information about the Jay Cooke Middle School, see For information about the Talent Development Middle School reform model, see For more information on CRESPAR, see


What's New
From the U.S. Department of Education

On July 1st, President George W. Bush, along with Secretary Rod Paige and Mayor Anthony Williams, discussed the Administration's plans to promote school choice in the District of Columbia before a group of around 200 DC leaders, education entrepreneurs, parents and students at the KIPP DC Key Academy, a free, open-enrollment public school that is administered by the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP). Key Academy is one school in the national network of 15 KIPP schools in the country. Representatives Tom Davis (R-VA), Chairman of the House Government Reform Committee and Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Chairman of the House District of Columbia Appropriations Subcommittee; DC Councilman Kevin Chavous, Chairman of the City Council's Committee on Education; DC School Board President Peggy Cooper Cafritz; and music legend Quincy Jones also participated in the event. To view an article about the event, go to The Washington Post

Parental Involvement

Representatives Tom Davis (R-VA) and John Boehner (R-OH) have introduced legislation promoting the Administration's plan to expand parental options in DC. HR 2556, the "DC Parental Choice Incentive Act of 2003" is scheduled to be marked up before Chairman Davis's Committee on July 10th. For a summary of the proposed legislation, see

Funding Opportunities

The grant competitions for Models in Arts Education and Professional Development for Arts Education will be closing soon. The deadline for both competitions is July 10, 2003. Grants will be awarded to local education agencies, including charter schools that are LEAs, that collaborate with at least one of the following: an institution of higher education; a state education agency; or a public or private nonprofit agency with a history of providing high quality professional development to public schools. For more information about these competitions, see and

The grant competition for Parental Information and Resource Centers remains open. Applications for this program are due July 18, 2003. The competition is open to nonprofit agencies, including faith-based and community organizations, or consortia of nonprofit agencies and school districts (though not school districts alone). These centers will, among other things, inform the parents of children who attend schools needing improvement about their options. For more information, see


Innovations in the News

A provision in the Ohio state budget allows Ohio to grow its school choice program by 1,000 students. The expansion also includes allowing ninth and tenth graders to participate in the voucher program. [More-[The Ohio News Network] (June 27)

Where do you go to graduate from a homeschool? Students convene for the first time at their graduation to celebrate what they have accomplished. [More-Parent]

Virtual Schools
Alaska educators hope new online courses will help students, especially in small rural schools, meet state standards and be prepared for college. Alaska Online, a consortium of nine school districts, has been offering a pilot program of 21 courses for high school students for a year and will start officially this fall. [More-The Juneau Empire] (June 25)

Charter Schools
Michigan could have hundreds of new charter schools by 2012 under legislation approved by the state House committee. The state House Education Committee voted to approve the bill that would allow universities to open 20 new charter schools a year for the next 10 years. [More-The Detroit News] (June 25)

The California Charter Academy was opened in 1999 by a group of three former public school educators. Since then it has branched out to include three charters and 60 programs throughout California. [More-The Imperial Valley Press] (June 19)


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Last Modified: 04/26/2011