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Published in Print: October 4, 2000, as Talent Development Middle Schools

Talent Development Middle Schools

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A comprehensive reform model aimed at urban middle schools serving large numbers of poor children.

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Return to main story, “Finding Their Voices”

A comprehensive reform model aimed at urban middle schools serving large numbers of poor children.

The Center for Social Organization of Schools, an educational research and development center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The model is being implemented in about a dozen schools in Detroit, Memphis, Tenn., and Philadelphia. Schools applying to the program must gain the approval of at least 80 percent of their teaching staffs.

Center for Social Organization of Schools
3003 N. Charles St., Suite 300
Baltimore, MD 21218-3888
(410) 516- 8829

Key Principles:

  • A rigorous, standards-based curriculum that calls for every student to study algebra, read and analyze great literature, perform hands-on science experiments, and interpret original historical documents by 8th grade.
  • Phase-in over three years.
  • Intensive teacher professional development in content areas.
  • Teacher professionalism.
  • Strong relationships between teachers and students.
  • Empowerment of students to make a difference in their communities.
  • Curriculum materials, particularly literature selections, that reflect diversity of students.
  • Flexible model that incorporates existing improvement plans, district academic requirements, or district-required texts.
  • Supplementary program providing 10 to 12 weeks of remedial instruction in mathematics and reading for students who need it.

Key Practices:

  • Up to 38 hours of teacher professional development in specific subjects, as well as weekly sessions with instructional coaches.
  • Additional training for exemplary teachers within the school so they can demonstrate lessons and help colleagues devise teaching strategies.
  • Mathematics curricula sponsored by the University of Chicago and the National Science Foundation, as well as a variety of science programs that meet national standards.
  • English/language arts curriculum based on a program called Student Team Literature, which encourages students to work in groups to read and analyze recommended books that are considered high-quality, age- appropriate, and culturally diverse.
  • Social studies curriculum based on Joy Hakim's A History of US textbook series.

Vol. 20, Issue 5, Page 36

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