Talent Development Secondary, a comprehensive school reform effort, has emerged after 15 years of research, applications and practices, well equipped to effectively respond to the needs of schools and districts seeking the strategies, tools, materials, supports and personnel needed to dramatically improve middle and high schools marked by low achievement and low graduation rates. This brief continues TDS’s track record by looking at the positive impacts experienced by Talent Development and Diplomas Now schools in the 2009-2010 academic year.
Talent Development Secondary (TDS) has been a partner for change in hundreds of schools in cities, suburbs, and rural areas across the country. It is operating or planning new schools in Baltimore, Chicago, and Detroit. It is working as the lead partner in school improvement grant efforts in middle and high schools in Boston, Norfolk, Milwaukee, Washington D.C. and Baltimore.
Through welcoming learning environments and effective instruction, Talent Development engages students in the academic and social life of the school. The strong ninth-grade program identifies and supports students who may otherwise fall off track; the college and career focus in the upper grades provides the relevant learning activities they need to stay on track. As a result, schools committed to implementing TD reforms see immediate, measurable and sustainable improvements in student engagement, achievement, advancement, and graduation.
A five-year scientifically rigorous study by MDRC, an independent research firm, found that Talent Development reforms produced improvements in the percentage of students who regularly attend middle school, in the math achievement levels students attained by the end of the middle grades and also yielded substantial gains in attendance, academic credits earned, promotion and graduation rates in high schools. For example, according to MDRC’s Making Progress Toward Graduation, Evidence from the Talent Development High School Model, “TD schools nearly doubled the percentage of students earning credits in Algebra 1, a primary gatekeeper course for grade promotion and graduation.” Talent Development also is identified as an effective research-based plan for keeping students on track toward graduation by the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse.
The body of research revealing the positive impacts of Talent Development during the middle grades on students’ progress in reading and mathematics and on helping them stay on track for an on-time graduation from high school is summarized in Chapter 28 of the Handbook of Research on Schools, Schooling and Human Development. Click here to read the chapter.
Diplomas Now, the program that combines Talent Development whole school reform with enhanced student supports and early warning systems, recently won a $30 million federal Investing in Innovation (i3) validation award (plus a $6 million matching grant from the PepsiCo Foundation) to expand the model to 60 middle and high schools in 10 districts over the next five years. Talent Development/Diplomas Now was one of 49 winners out of approximately 1,700 applicants and the only secondary turnaround group with national reach to win one of the major awards. The award was guided by recommendations from an outside panel of experts who evaluated each of the applicants based on the evidence of their programs’ effectiveness.