Our curricular program maintains an unrelenting focus on academic scholarship based on core features that we refer to as our Instructional Imperatives. These 5 Instructional Imperatives provide a framework for high student achievement.
#1 – Place a Premium on Literacy Instruction.
Early reading ability predicts reading comprehension ability throughout elementary grades and thereafter. Research indicates that students who score in the top five percent on reading tests read 144 times more than students who score in the bottom five percent. Thus in the earliest grades, students rotate through a robust, engaging literacy curriculum with the following components: 1) Read-aloud & Vocabulary Development, 2) Direct Phonics Instruction, 3) Guided Reading, 4) Computer-Based Reinforcement and 5) a Comprehensive Writing Program. To foster a love for reading, students will also engage in self-selected daily reading for pleasure.
#2 – Hire and Retain a Cadre of High-Quality, Mission-Aligned Teachers.
Excellent teachers help students learn nearly four times more than students taught by teachers most lacking in skill. Thus, the quality of our school’s instructional program is ultimately dependent on teacher quality. We use a two-teacher model, pairing master teachers with newer teachers in order to provide the less-experienced teachers with the sustained support they need to be successfully inducted into the profession. We use an intense teacher selection process to attract the best in human capital. We then provide the collegial, professional environment where teachers will thrive and grow.
#3 – Provide Substantially More Time for Students to Learn.
By the time economically disadvantaged students enter kindergarten, many have had exposure to as many as 30 million fewer words than their wealthier counterparts. This leads to the persistent achievement gap that is often discussed in American education. To combat such a challenge, all Newark Legacy Charter School students have a school day that is at least one hour longer than their district counterparts. Struggling students may also remain at school for an additional forty-five minutes beyond the regular school day in order to receive individualized tutoring.
#4 – Use a Data-Driven Approach to Plan and Implement Lessons.
Accurate, detailed information about what students know is crucial to the effectiveness of the instructional program. Short weekly or biweekly assessments and cumulative interim assessments aligned to state and national standards are administered to students in order to find and correct problems effectively. Teachers carefully analyze assessment results to make decisions about how to focus their instructional time. Our goal is to provide remediation, maintenance and acceleration of skills in real-time, so that students will receive maximum benefit from our instructional program.
#5 – Employ a Variety of Customized Daily Student Supports.
Through informal assessments and ongoing observation, teachers always have a set of data points from which to gauge student response to instruction. We believe that this data is useful only if it is used to immediately impact the instructional delivery and support provided to struggling students. Our longer school day allows time for students to receive customized one-on-one or small group support in a flexible system that responds to student needs.