Based on the belief that every person has his or her own talents, and committed to developing those talents, Talent Development Secondary does not track students. Instead, it requires basic college preparatory courses for all students. Many schools inadvertently foster low achievement by sorting some students into high-quality instruction while relegating others to lower-quality education. Talent Development has demonstrated that all children are capable of succeeding in demanding courses when given appropriate support. Heterogeneous grouping for core academic classes helps TDS schools reach high levels of academic performance. The Talent Development Secondary program provides extra help for struggling students and training and ongoing support for teachers to ensure success for everyone in the heterogeneous classroom.
Our climate program helps schools set the tone for learning by creating a safe, nurturing, positive atmosphere. It provides positive responses to appropriate behaviors, consistent consequences for inappropriate behaviors, and support for students who have difficulty managing their behaviors even with consistent rewards and consequences. Schools have customized our Talent Development Secondary climate program to successfully increase student attendance and decrease tardy rates to meet federal AYP guidelines.
A Can-Do Climate of Success believes that students will behave properly when appropriate behavior is explained and rewarded with more attention from school personnel than inappropriate behavior. The TDS High Five A’s and B’s Behavior Standards continually and explicitly teach appropriate behaviors at the middle grades level. TDS Climate provides rewards, consequences, and additional support for troubled behaviors. Components include dinner with the principal; staff appreciation events; classroom rewards; anger, grief and social skills management training; a centralized late room; a Reflections or time-out room; an in-school suspension Success Suite; behavior intervention teams and behavior improvement plans; and bully-proofing training. A member of the school staff runs each school’s Climate program with support from a TDS facilitator.
Research show that students achieve more and at higher levels when their families are involved in their schools. Talent Developments encourages such involvement, as well as community partners, especially through the National Network of Partnership Schools, which is also part of the Center for Social Organization of Schools. The network supports schools in forming Action Teams for Partnership, consisting of parents, teachers, administrators and community members, to plan activities and strategies that focus on school goals and school improvement plans.
Working in teams is an important aspect of Talent Development. The ninth-grade academy, for instance, is organized into several teams of four teachers and approximately 100 students each. Upper-grade academies, likewise, have interdisciplinary teams of teachers assigned to a group of students. This allows teachers and students to know one another and respect one another. Students realize that their teachers know them and care about them. Common planning time is another aspect of teaming, so that teachers can not only plan integrated lessons, but also share information about the needs and performance of their students.
Talent Development Secondary is also organized into regional teams of facilitators, employed by Johns Hopkins, who visit schools throughout the year, as scheduled by each school or district. These facilitators assist coaches, teachers and administrators with the details of Talent Development and help them meet the challenges of their individual schools. Click here to learn more about the professional development provided by Talent Development Secondary.
A ninth-grade academy is a self-contained school-within-a-school with interdisciplinary teacher teams designed to provide ninth-graders a smooth transition to high school and a caring, respectful environment in which to begin their high school careers.
The schedule is made up of four classes a day of 80-to 90 minutes each. This allows teachers the time to teach in depth and to use a variety of instructional strategies that meet the needs of different kinds of learners. With this arrangement, students complete a year’s worth of coursework in one semester, allowing them time for extra-help courses if they need them.
Ninth, tenth, and eleventh grades in Talent Development High Schools offer courses designed by researchers and curriculum developers for students performing below grade level. Taken in the first semester of these three grades, the Talent Development courses prepare students for the district’s regular academic subjects, which they take during the second semester, In English, the courses are Strategic Reading (9th), Reading and Writing in Your Career (10th), and College Prep Reading and Writing (11th). The Talent Development mathematics courses are Transition to Advanced Math (9th), Geometry Foundations (10th) and Algebra II Foundations (11th). In addition, Freshman Seminar is a first-semester ninth-grade course that stresses study skills, goal setting and peer relations. Learn more about the Talent Development curriculum here.
In addition to these specific courses, the Talent Development model offers after-hours credit recovery programs, an alternative program, called Twilight School, and other summer and weekend activities for making up or catching up. Computer-assisted lab courses in English and mathematics can also be built into the schedule to provide a “triple dose” of these subjects for needy students.
Career academies are self-contained small learning communities of 250 to 350 students each for students in grades 10 through 12. There are typically three career academies in a school, depending on its size, each with a career focus in core subjects, as well as elective courses. Examples of such academy theme are: performing arts, communications, math, science and medical, business and technology. Though the career focus certainly does not lock students into a choice for future education and work, it does add relevance to the high school curriculum and appeal to individuals’ interests.