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report 1 THE TALENT DEVELOPMENT HIGH SCHOOL Essential Components

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THE TALENT DEVELOPMENT HIGH SCHOOLEssential ComponentsVelma LaPoint, Howard UniversityWill Jordan and James M. McPartland, Johns Hopkins UniversityDonna Penn Towns, Howard UniversityReport No. 1September 1996Published by the Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed At Risk (CRESPAR),supported as a national research and development center by funds from the Office of EducationalResearch and Improvement, U. S. Department of Education (R-117-D40005). The opinionsexpressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of OERI, and noofficial endorsement should be inferred.iiThe CenterEvery child has the capacity to succeed in school and in life. Yet far too manychildren, especially those from poor and minority families, are placed at risk by schoolpractices that are based on a sorting paradigm in which some students receivehigh-expectations instruction while the rest are relegated to lower quality education andlower quality futures. The sorting perspective must be replaced by a “talent development”model that asserts that all children are capable of succeeding in a rich and demandingcurriculum with appropriate assistance and support.The mission of the Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk(CRESPAR) is to conduct the research, development, evaluation, and disseminationneeded to transform schooling for students placed at risk. The work of the Center is guidedby three central themes — ensuring the success of all students at key development points,building on students’ personal and cultural assets, and scaling up effective programs —and conducted through seven research and development programs and a program ofinstitutional activities.CRESPAR is organized as a partnership of Johns Hopkins University and HowardUniversity, in collaboration with researchers at the University of California at SantaBarbara, the University of California at Los Angeles, University of Oklahoma, Universityof Chicago, Manpower Research Demonstration Corporation, WestEd RegionalLaboratory, University of Memphis, and University of Houston-Clear Lake.iiiiAbstractThis report presents the essential components of the Talent Development High School,which is a comprehensive model of changes in high school organization, curriculum, andinstruction based upon research on student motivation and teacher commitment. Part Idescribes the components of the model, which emphasizes (1) a college preparatory corecurriculum based on high standards, and (2) a learning environment that incorporates foursources of student motivation: relevance of schoolwork, a caring and supportive humanenvironment, opportunities for academic success, and help with personal problems. Part IIdescribes the research base from which the model was derived.i1I. The Essential ComponentsThe Talent Development Model for high schools was developed to fill a majorcurrent void in American education — the lack of a proven model of high schooleffectiveness. This includes organization, curriculum, and instruction that will enablestudents placed at risk to achieve academic success, graduation, further education, andsuccess in later life.Most existing popular reform movements, especially for high schools, focus moreon the processes of change than on the content of an improved school. Most provideprinciples of effective education and mechanisms for activating local energies to createand support change; however they provide little practical guidance on what the reformedhigh school should look like — its organization, social relations, curriculum andinstruction. Consequently, there has been little consistency in specific school changes thathave been developed by schools using these approaches. No clear blueprint has beenoffered for specific reforms in the organizational arrangements and daily operationsneeded to achieve their principles of effective education.Similarly, current ideas to change the external incentives for reforms provideimpetus for change, but little guidance on the details of specific changes. For example, twoefforts that may motivate schools to seek change are (1) efforts to provide parental choicein order to direct market forces at ineffective schools, and (2) efforts by the states to getschools to develop new classroom lessons that prepare students for new state performanceassessments. However, neither are very helpful to high school improvement teams thatseek to make specific comprehensive changes that will attract students and produce higherorder learning outcomes.The Talent Development Model provides a comprehensive package of specific highschool changes for students placed at risk. It is based upon research on student motivationand teacher commitment. It can be reliably implemented with adaptations to meet localcircumstances. The Talent Development High School is based on research about the twokey elements of an effective school: (1) the curriculum and (2) the learning environment.Talent Development CurriculumResearch is clear that student learning is maximized by a common core curriculumof high standards for all students. This means all students take college-preparatory coursesin the major subjects — English, mathematics, science, and history/social studies. Separateprogram tracks of College Prep, General, and Vocational-Business which have beencharacteristic of America’s comprehensive high schools, are eliminated. They are replaced2by a single common academic program of demanding courses for all students. Forexample, all students take a core sequence of courses in mathematics (e.g., algebra,probability and statistics, geometry and trigonometry, and pre-calculus), with nosubstitutes of business math or other watered-down courses. Similarly, a standard commoncore of courses is offered for all in other major subjects.Numerous studies have shown that all students reach higher academicachievements when they are given the opportunity to learn demanding course content. Themajority of research studies (see McPartland & Schneider, 1994, for a review), indicatethat student test scores are higher when the course content includes more demandingcurriculum topics and challenging instructional activities.Thus, the Talent Development High School begins with a college-preparatorycurriculum for all students. It sets high standards, orients students toward continuededucation after high school, and provides exposure to demanding curriculum content andlearning activities. But, this core


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