Based on Johns Hopkins Model
In September 2004, the Baltimore City Public School System will open a new high school based on a model created by the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University.
The Baltimore Talent Development High School will be one of the city's "innovation high schools," neighborhood schools embracing new visions of what makes an urban high school successful. The Talent Development High School model has already been put in place in more than 50 existing schools in 10 states and the District of Columbia.
"But this is the first time we will be building a high school from scratch," CSOS research scientist Robert Balfanz said. "We're very excited to be doing this in Baltimore."
Sharing space in a building that currently houses Harlem Park Middle School at 1500 Harlem Ave., the Baltimore Talent Development High School will offer a full academic program, featuring "double doses" — two courses per year — of literacy and mathematics instruction for students who need to catch up. It also will offer early college and advanced placement courses for eligible students.
The school will enroll 180 ninth-graders in the 2004-2005 school year, adding a new class of freshmen each year until the school has about 600 students in ninth through 12th grades. The school is open to students from across the city, though most will be drawn from the neighborhood surrounding the school. CSOS researchers will have a hand in hiring the principal and teaching staff and will form a design team to provide weekly in-school support. The team will include a project manager who will work closely with the principal and help to gather community and business support for the school and the individual career academies.
The innovation high school program is funded by the city and the Fund for Educational Excellence, a 20-year-old partnership of businesses, parents, educators and community members dedicated to improving educational opportunities and the academic performance of students in the Baltimore City public school system. The school will receive $600,000 over five years for start-up costs and professional development for teachers.
CSOS was chosen to create an innovation high school through several rounds of review by the city's High School Steering Committee, including district officials, representatives from the teachers union as well as representatives from the foundations who funded it, including the Fund for Educational Excellence and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Talent Development schools quash students' feelings of anonymity and apathy with programs like the ninth-grade Freshman Seminar. Research shows that students unprepared for the demands of high school are the most likely to drop out; Freshman Seminar aims to prevent this. The course helps students make the transition from middle to high school by focusing on study skills, time management, test taking, goal setting and peer relationships.
Once students are working to grade level and are accustomed to being in high school, the students will plan for their futures in one of two "career academies" — one focused on arts and communications and the other on science and technology. Students in the upper grades will select which career academy they'd like to attend based on exploration during their freshman year.
In addition to core classes, each school day will include a 45-minute arts period built into the schedule at the end of the day, when it's anticipated that students will be able to take chorus or band, participate in a theater group or join the debate team. Civic engagement projects also will be curriculum components, Balfanz said. Students will research a problem they see in their own neighborhoods and come up with a solution. At the end of the year, they'll present their plans publicly, Balfanz said.
While the Baltimore Talent Development High School will present a great opportunity for city students, it also will offer CSOS researchers and curriculum writers a chance to see their work in action, allowing them to see what works for students and teachers and what needs further study, Balfanz said.
"The goal isn't to create a school that can only exist with a partnership with a university," Balfanz said. "We want other schools to see that this is a real school in a real city environment and that it's a model that can work anywhere."
To speak with Balfanz or other CSOS researchers, contact Amy Cowles at 443-287-9960.
Go to Headlines@HopkinsHome Page