Ohio Department of Education

Part C of the Elementary and Secondary Education
Public Charter Schools Program

The Ida B. Wells Community Academy

novi quid ex Africa
"Everything new comes out of Africa"  Pliny

           1. Student Profile

The Ida B. Wells Community Academy's intended students will be from 5 to 11 years old and be enrolled in the following grade levels over the course of five years:

     Projected School Enrollment (at 15 students per grade level)
  45      Year One Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd 
     Year Two Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd 
     Year Three Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th 
     Total Number Certified Staff

          Year One      3 Certified Teachers     Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd
          Year Two      5 Certified Teachers     Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd (2 classes), 3rd
          Year Three    7 Certified Teachers     Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd (2 classes), 4th

     Student:Teacher Ratio:  15:1 

The Ida B. Wells Community Academy (IBWCA) will serve students residing within the Akron City School District. IBWCA's student body will include low-income, under-achieving, under-served, under-challenged and under-represented inner-city youths. IBWCA will also include in its student body those students with physical, behavioral and learning disabilities. IBWCA believes its decision to maintain a low student:teacher ratio will best serve its students and strengthen its efforts to increase educational performance, enhance educational quality, and augment and diversify educational content. Even though IBWCA's mission is to eventually serve students from Kindergarten to High School, it will initially serve only students in kindergarten through the 2nd grade, adding one grade per year thereafter.

         At-Risk Students

IBWCA will serve at-risk students as defined by the following profile.

An at-risk student, as we define at-risk, are those inner-city, low-achieving, low-income, underserved, underrepresented and underchallenged students as well as those students with behavioral and/or learning and comprehension problems in Akron, Ohio's traditional public and private schools. By underchallenged we mean those students who are intellectually above average but are not performing up to their potential or are not sufficiently challenged in the public schools, may resort to anti-social behavior, and as a result may become a school dropout. IBWCA also includes in its at-risk designation students with physical, behavioral and learning disabilities, and teenage girls with children. At start-up, IBWCA will probably serve only those at-risk students classified as inner-city, low-income, or underserved since they will be in the primary grades. Later, as IBWCA becomes better known in the community and as it adds grade levels, increasing numbers of at-risk medium-, low-income, underrepresented and underchallenged students with or without physical, behavioral and learning comprehension disabilities will comprise its student body.
IBWCA's reasons for addressing its programmatic energies to the education of at risk young persons and to the development of an innovative educational paradigm is strengthened by contemporary societal problems. Some of these problems are spoken to in the following passage:
Some people are concerned that the reform movement has emphasized job-related skills at the expense of promoting social awareness and values. Futrell (1990) states that education"must enable [students] to think complexly and creatively, to act responsibly, and when necessary to act selflessly. . . education must help the United States meet both economic and moral imperatives (pp. 264-265)." Some researchers argue that school policies, practices, and curricula must prepare students to live in a culturally diverse society (Pine and Hilliard, 1990), while some religious groups contend that a renewed emphasis on character development is required. Perhaps these concerns should be incorporated into discussions of ways of being "at risk." It may be that young people who leave school with poor behavioral and academic skills are not the only students at risk pleasant, productive young workers who understand "21st-century" technologies but fail to grasp the significance of social and ethical issues may also place themselves, their communities, and the nation at risk. 
           2. Educational Program

             Mission Statement

IBWCA's mission is to educate youth (5 to 11 years of age) in Kindergarten through the 6th grade in an innovative and holistic and intellectually challenging atmosphere that (1) is personalized, problem-posing and problem-solving, (2) is devoted to the provision of quality instruction in the humanities, mathematics, the physical and natural sciences, citizenship, the arts, the social sciences, and African and world culture studies, (3) emphasizes preparing students to pass at the 75th percentile or better on the fourth, sixth, ninth and twelfth grade proficiency tests, (4) is a fully democratic and participatory educational process and (5) has a well conceived policy outlining the Roles and Responsibilities of Walimu and Wanafunzi (see also the Rights and Responsibilities of Parents, Students, Teachers and Administrators). IBWCA will add at least one grade each year until it reaches the High School level in 2010 or sooner.

     IBWCA's Educational Program and Goals

The Ida B. Wells Community Academy will introduce its students to a culturally integrative curriculum designed to infuse content that is at once nurturing, stimulating, intended to engage students' intellectual curiosity, and imbue in its students a mutual respect for learning proficiency, competence and self direction not only in traditional learning objectives but also in the attainment of knowledge of their cultures, traditions and values. Students will also learn to appreciate themselves, their fellow students, their families, their community and their nation. IBWCA's goals include creating a responsive and innovative learning environment that will instruct students based on these programmatic objectives:

          1. to prepare all students to function competently and productively in an ever more complex and technological global society;

          2. to achieve increased academic performance expectations and measured proficiency outcomes,

          3. to increase students' daily attendance records and to implement creative disciplinary methods to reduce suspensions and dismissals;

          4. to involve the professional community, parents, retired teachers and students directly in the learning process;

          5. to design a curriculum that can be partially reliant on the learning potential of the World Wide Web so as to augment class assignments and individual student research;

          6. to assure students and parents that they will be able to transition, with ease, out of IBWCA into the Akron Public Schools or an equivalent public educational system; and

          7. to provide students, parents and faculty/staff with a detailed handbook that clearly outlines their rights and responsibilities. The rights of all students, parents and faculty, including those guaranteed by the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Ohio, and by applicable federal, Ohio, and local statutes, and the right to a quality education, are and shall be recognized without regard to race, religion, sex, disability, or intellectual ability. Student responsibilities include regular school attendance, conscientious effort in classroom work, conformance to school rules and regulations, and the responsibility not to interfere with the education of fellow students or the orderly operation of the school. These rights and responsibilities, as they pertain to students, begin with kindergarten and extend through the twelfth grade.

          8. to assure parents and students that the U.S. Department of Education's seven (7) educational priorites will also become prioties for IBWCA:

  • All students will read independently and well by the end of 3rd grade. 
  • All students will master challenging mathematics, including the foundations of algebra and geometry, by the end of 8th grade.
  • By 18 years of age, all students will be prepared for and able to attend college.
  • All states and schools will have challenging and clear standards of achievement and accountability for all children, and effective strategies for reaching those standards. 
  • There will be a talented, dedicated and well-prepared teacher in every classroom. 
  • Every classroom will be connected to the Internet by the year 2000 and all students will be technologically literate. 
  • Every school will be strong, safe, drug-free and disciplined. 
These program goals will inform parents that IBWCA is an educational institution wherein administrators, faculty, students, and the community and parents work collectively and in harmony to reach its educational goals. And as argued by David Matthews of the Kettering Foundation in his Is There a Public for Public Schools (1996), IBWCA has as an overriding objective that of effecting a partnership, a Learning Society, composed of strategic constituencies who enjoy a feeling of ownership. On the issue of social control, a team of two researchers reported that adults behave as if the locus of social control exists in black children when in fact it does not. Since teachers and parents rarely lived in the same community, rarely communicated with each other the social control mechanism employed in the schools was at variance with the mechanisms employed by the parents' community and certainly at variance with social control as it was used by the parents themselves (Henderson, Donald and Alfonzo Washington. 1975. "Cultural Differences and the Education of Black Children," Journal of Negro Education 44:353-60). The point is that the parents, teachers and community must act in concert so as not to be caught out of sync with one another. A consequence of putting emphasis on this communal relationship, will
Figure 1. Based on the "Program Harmony Model" developed by the late Prof. Fela Sowande in 1972, and modified by Edward W. Crosby, Chair Emeritus, Department of Pan-African Studies, Kent State University in January 1989.
demonstrate to parents and significant others that IBWCA is able to provide children with a quality education; that IBWCA is an appropriate school of choice, and that parents should avail themselves of IBWCA's socio-cultural services and enroll their child(ren). To promote this notion in the public's mind, IBWCA's developers have already and are now conducting a community-wide canvass to announce its existence and to document community choice. We believe the personalized educational program, the student-friendly curricular structure, its emphasis on full participation of all constituencies, and its democratic program design and delivery system will be a major attraction.

     IBWCA's Curriculum and Curricular Focus.

The Ida B. Wells Community Academy's curriculum will provide instructional content that is nurturing, intellectually stimulating and intended to imbue in its students a mutual respect for learning not only those learning objectives or benchmarks recommended by the Ohio Department of Education's competency-based learning outcomes for mathematics, social studies (citizenship), science (physical and natural), comprehensive arts, language arts and literature, a foreign language, e.g., Kiswahili (the lingua franca of East and Central Africa), but also the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational Research and Improvement where feasible. An additional IBWCA goal includes the establishment of a learning environment supported by a curriculum that relies in part on the learners' experiences at home, in their neighborhoods, in the community, and in the society in general as far as possible and prudent. IBWCA will instill an awareness and mutual respect for other people(s), their cultures, aspirations, traditions and values. In short, the curriculum will help students recognize how their learning is integrally related to their lives in the present and in the future. IBWCA's and the general public's focus on increased academic expectations, moral and social responsibility, and increased proficiency ratings will influence parents to enroll their child(ren) in the Ida B. Wells Community Academy. It is important here to state categorically that the IBWCA educational program relies on the research of scholars in the field. IBWCA bases its structure and design on the work of Dr. Asa G. Hilliard III, Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Urban Education, Georgia State University, and Dr. Janice E. Hale.

In Hilliard's Alternatives to IQ Testing: An Approach to the Identification of Gifted Minority Children. Final Report to the California State Department of Education (1976), he stresses, along with others, that schools and schooling must view low-income and underrepresented children through a different set of glasses. That is to say, poor African American and white students respond differently to standard and non-standard intellectual stimuli. This position is underlined in Janice Hale's Black Children, Their Roots, Culture, and Learning Styles (1986), in which she reports the findings of Laura Lein's research (1975) on speech behavior and linguistic styles of African American migrant children as follows: "Demanding examples of good speech from students in tests or in the usual classroom situations is not necessarily an effective way of finding out what students know. Listening to exchanges between peers and peer evaluations of such exchanges is an important part of discovering how children speak. Also, it is a reasonable mechanism for learning how children interpret and react to speech. Teaching teachers the skills of anthropological observation and analysis may be one helpful way of enlarging their understanding of what is happening in the classroom." 

Even though these references to educational research are directly related to African American children, IBWCA understands that there is a commonality of educational barriers that obtain for all depressed classes of Americans. And that it is IBWCA's job to see that every child black or white, poor or disabled receives a quality education and learns what it means to strive to be excellent in all their endeavors in school, at home, in the neighborhood, in sports, in art, in music and dance, in reading, writing and arithmatic.

IBWCA's curricular content at each grade level will be structured to produce the following expected and measurable performance outcomes as cited in the Ohio Board of Education's mandated learning objectives. Broadly speaking, these learning objectives include modes for reading, writing, mathematics, science, and civics (citizenship) and social studies. It must be emphasized here, however, that these performance objectives represent only the minimum curricular foci of the Ida B. Wells Community Academy. It should also be emphasized that since IBWCA will design structured learning activities based on individual student interests and needs, the performance outcomes enumerated do not and cannot to reflect all of the faculty's anticipated performance expectations. To be sure, they are no more than indications of comprehensiveness of IBWCA's curriculum. At the risk of redundancy, given IBWCA's emphasis on allowing its students to grow at their own pace, we expect over time a number of students will show even higher levels of performance.

At the End of Kindergarten Students Should Be Able . . .

  • to sort objects by color, size shape, weight; create, recognize and repeat patterns with blocks, cubes, sticks or tubes; recognize numbers and relate them to numerals; match objects with one to one correspondence; separate and join sets of objects; use counters to visualize abstract mathematical concepts; compare objects according to various lengths and weights;
  • to prepare, expound on and maintain a personal learning log or journal;
  • to identify letters of the alphabet consonants and vowels;
  • to recognize various occupations via pictures, i.e., mailman, store clerk, teacher, minister, baseball player, etc.;
  • to understand various life cycles: young to old, caterpillar to butterfly, tadpole to frog;
  • to recognize seasonal changes, e.g., winter, spring, summer, autumn, and the aging process of humans and other animals;
  • to recognize various astronomical elements sun, moon, stars, planets; and earth science phenomena wind, snow and ice, rain, water, fire, etc.;
  • to read and use maps, photographs, pictures, the globe and other learning tools to identify life at the home, family relationships, school items desks, chairs, tables, etc.; demonstrate position words above/below, left/right, front/back, up/down;
  • to understand the need for rules and regulations and good in-school and at-home behavior;
  • to use symbols to describe various problems or situations; predict, draw, act out and/or solve problem situations;
  • to demonstrate an awareness of different places to live for people, insects, and animals;
  • to recite poetry of various sorts from nursery rhymes and children's literature and sing songs related to reaming topics;
  • to demonstrate artistic and muscular coordination via finger painting, dance, simple gymnastics, etc.; and
  • to exhibit an elementary ability to pronounce and use various selected greetings in a foreign language, e.g., Kiswahili. The instructor's availability and skills will determine which African language is taught.
At the End of First Grade Students Should Be Able . . .
  • to sort objects using multiple attributes, e.g., small/large, uni-/bi-dimensional, round/ square;
  • to extend missing elements of repeating patterns/numbers; separate and join numerical set;
  • to count forward/backward to 100 by ones, twos and fives; identify even and odd numbers; identify ordinal numbers, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.; recognize when to add or subtract, describe in words and symbols; demonstrate ability to do simple addition and subtraction and recognize and write simple fractions 1/4, 1/2, 3/4; tell time on the hour and half hour and tell time in 15 minute intervals; count pennies, nickels and dimes;
  • to identify needed and not needed information to solve problems, mathematical or otherwise; explain a problem situation using a drawing or picture (photograph); demonstrate solving a problem using patterns or the manipulation of objects; match objects with one to one correspondence; separate and join sets of objects; use counters to visualize abstract mathematical concepts; compare and order sets according to more, less or same;
  • to observe, describe and sort various objects inanimate and animate and place them according to category; recognize various racial, ethnic and national types;
  • to demonstrate ability to find places on the globe or world maps, United States, Africa, Europe, Asia;
  • to read maps, photos and simple diagrams and graphs; grasp how families need food, clothing, and shelter;
  • to manipulate and combine shapes and sizes of objects in the environment uni- and three dimensional, circle, triangle, flat, square, cube, cylinder, cone, etc.;
  • to demonstrate an awareness of life cycles;
  • to prepare and maintain a personal learning log or journal;
  • to understand how plants and animals are dependent on other plants and animals;
  • to understand various occupations as well understand the people live in neighborhoods, states, and countries; and
  • to demonstrate an increased ability to pronounce and use greetings, names of things and places, classroom objects, and longer phrases of three or four words and speak an African language with limited fluency.
At the End of Second Grade Students Should Be Able . . .
  • to use a number line; read and write three-digit numbers and round numbers up or down to the nearest five, i.e., is 13 is closer to 10 than 26? or is 20 closer to 18 than to 30?
  • to add and subtract double-digit numbers and measure length and width in inches and centimeters using a ruler;
  • to construct and use matrices for addition, subtraction, multiplication;
  • to understand and use maps, photographs; read graphs; demonstrate an understanding of the occupations of their parents, neighbors and relatives; how people in their community and other communities earn a living;
  • to solve and pose problems based on situations they have experienced or stories they have read and heard or that they have made up;
  • to prepare and maintain a personal learning log or journal; summarize information gleaned from reading assigned or self-initiated; memorize poems, songs and pledges;
  • to conduct independent research on topics related to animals, insects, or people and their occupations; and
  • to show an increased pronunciation and conversational ability in an African language -- greetings, names of things and places, and longer phrases of several words and short readings, e.g., proverbs and aphorisms.
The expected performance indicators enumerated above show (1) that the focus of IBWCA's curriculum follows the basics of standard public school curricula with one noteworthy and vital exception (see p. 8) and (2) that IBWCA has developed an educational perspective that embraces high and comprehensive learning and behavioral standards. Furthermore, IBWCA will provide its enrollees at all levels a well thought out physical education program designed around various physical activities manipulative, locomotor and non-locomotor such as modern and African dance, running, jumping, sprinting, acrobatics (tumbling, headstands, throwing, catching, somersaults, leapfrogging, etc.), martial arts, e.g., karate and capoeira (a traditional Brazilian martial art), volley ball, baseball and basketball.

Before the Ida B. Wells Community Academy goes into operation or as we add additional grade levels, we will draft an upgraded listing of performance outcomes indicating the expected end competency results as mandated by state-required proficiency tests, etc.

The IBWCA's Instructional Design and Educational Philosophy.

Students will be taught a basic skills program with an interdisciplinary (holistic) learning focus. The Ida B. Wells Community Academy is committed to engendering in its students intellectual curiosity and will stress high academic standards and rigorous performance expectations. To accomplish this aim, IBWCA has an educational philosophy that emphasizes in its program structure and instructional design the following essential curricular and procedural ingredients:

          1. Small classes that are holistic and culturally integrative, and designed to enhance at all levels the students' proficiency in the basic skills and mastery of standards adopted by teachers, parents and students;

          2. Team-teaching emphasis stressed where appropriate (on occasion students may be assigned to a team of teachers); using parents, community residents, retired professionals and businessmen or -women as part-time teachers, teaching assistants or educational consultants;

          3. Small student to teacher ratio (15:1) to respond (a) to the at-risk character of the student body and (b) to facilitate individualized instruction based on interests and needs; this ratio will also support the institution of a "learning-through-doing" (active vs. passive) instructional design; 

          4. Meeting students where they are socially, culturally and academically and then moving them to higher and different academic levels supported by incorporating instructional themes such as the avoidance of threat, meaningful and relevant content, learning style choices, sufficient time to assimilate content, enriched learning environment, student-to-student collaboration, and immediate feedback; of especial importance in this context is the programmatic notion that all children can learn. It is incumbent on educators to devise means to design appropriate strategies to "lead that learning out," i.e., make it happen;

          5. Self-learning projects that are student or teacher initiated, conducted first in-school and later, based on student maturity, conducted out-of-school;

          6. The interdisciplinary (holistic) model that allows students to experience how one set of basic skills directly relates to other basic skills, i.e., reading to mathematics, geography to social sciences, mathematics to science, culture to history; and how all these relate to being truly educated and to life in general (see Alfred North Whitehead's The Aims of Education and Other Essays, 1967, pp. 6-7); and 

          7. An extended year-round calendar of up to 210 days (with 180 regular days and 30 summer school days).

IBWCA's instructional philosophy and program structure are open-ended so that it can maintain curricular and operational flexibility, recognizing that over time it may have to incorporate revised or different learning and operational strategies. IBWCA is intent on infusing into its curriculum a diversity element with the emphasis on African America, Africa, Native America, Latin America and the world. This element is not standard in public or private school education but is, from our perspective, vital given our anticipated student population, not because they will be children of color but rather because most children (and most educated Americans regardless of race) have not been exposed to the history, culture and aspirations of the African and other persons of color in America. The African American represents, for example, the largest non-white racial group in the United States; unfortunately it also represents the group whose history, culture, languages, traditions and contributions to American civilization have been most neglected in school curricula from kindergarten to the PhD. IBWCA will, therefore, correct this oversight by the infusion of curricular diversity. We will not, however, resort to the exclusion of instruction on other ethnic and racial groups. The fact is that Americans regardless of ethnicity or race must learn to live and work with each other. This need has been evident, although ignored, since the inception of the nation. It is now incumbent on the nation's educational system to reflect in its curricula this necessary national emphasis. IBWCA will, then, offer public school children in the city of Akron a well-balanced education where academic skills are taught in combination with mutual respect and cooperation among those diverse Americans who are destined to maintain the American experiment.

IBWCA again relies on the research and scholarship of educators such as Richard Long, Asa Hilliard, Janice Hale and Wade Nobles who writes: "The importance of culture is reflected in the curriculum by it (the curriculum) being sensitive to the ethnic heroes and holidays and aware of the groups songs and dance. Culture is not, however, simply a compilation of ethnic heroes and holidays nor is it only an awareness of other people's music and dance. . . . Curricula are tools of education and part of the problem has been in the way culture in general and the . . . African American culture in particular, has been defined and applied to the educational experience. . . . Culture is therefore the invisible dimension of all curricula. Hence, just as the nature of water (i.e., salt vs. fresh vs. polluted), influences the reality (i.e., survivability) of particular types of fish, so too do different cultural systems influence the reality of particular groups of people." Dr. Nobles goes on to say:

The fact of the matter is that when we look at the notion of culture and raise the question of accessing children to a core curriculum, we should be very clear that the core curriculum itself is cultural; and that the teaching methodology that we utilize in teaching the core curriculum is also cultural; and that the site leadership style is cultural, and that the guidance and counsel techniques are cultural, and that the instructional strategies are cultural, and that the school climate is cultural, and that ultimately the aim and purpose of education itself is cultural."
IBWCA finds ample support for its decision to infuse African and African American history, culture, languages, traditions and contributions to American civilization into its curriculum from kindergarten to the 12th grade. In terms of consistency, IBWCA will also, as stated above, infuse the cultures of other underrepresented Americans, namely Native Americans and Latinos (see Attachment I, A Selected Bibliography).

A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform, A Report to the Nation and the Secretary of Education, United States Department of Education by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, April 1983, offers this on-point testimony as to why the the Ida B. Wells Community Academy development team have decided to enter the educational reform struggle and have designed their educational delivery system and support services as they have. We quote extensively selected passages from the Commission's report:

        1. "Our society and its educational institutions seem to have lost sight of the basic purposes of schooling, and of the high expectations and disciplined effort needed to attain them. This report, the result of 18 months of study, seeks to generate reform of our educational system in fundamental ways and to renew the Nation's commitment to schools and colleges of high quality throughout the length and breadth of our land. . . . That we have compromised this commitment is, upon reflection, hardly surprising, given the multitude of often conflicting demands we have placed on our Nation's schools and colleges." . . . 

        2. "Our concern, however, . . . includes the intellectual, moral, and spiritual strengths of our people which knit together the very fabric of our society. The people of the United States need to know that individuals in our society who do not possess the levels of skill, literacy, and training essential to this new era will be effectively disenfranchised, not simply from the material rewards that accompany competent performance, but also from the chance to participate fully in our national life. A high level of shared education is essential to a free, democratic society and to the fostering of a common culture, especially in a country that prides itself on pluralism and individual freedom." . . .

        3. "Part of what is at risk is the promise first made on this continent: All, regardless of race or class or economic status, are entitled to a fair chance and to the tools for developing their individual powers of mind and spirit to the utmost. This promise means that all children by virtue of their own efforts, competently guided, can hope to attain the mature and informed judgment needed to secure gainful employment, and to manage their own lives, thereby serving not only their own interests but also the progress of society itself." . . . 

The educational dimensions of the risk have been well documented in testimony taken by the National Commission on Excellence in Education. We list here some of the risks the NCEE noted that the American community faces on national, state and local levels. They are: 

  • "International comparisons of student achievement, completed a decade ago, reveal that on 19 academic tests American students were never first or second and, in comparison with other industrialized nations, were last seven times. 
  • Some 23 million American adults are functionally illiterate by the simplest tests of everyday reading, writing, and comprehension. 
  • Functional illiteracy among minority youth may run as high as 40 percent. 
  • Over half the population of gifted students do not match their tested ability with comparable achievement in school. 
  • The College Board's Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) demonstrate a virtually unbroken decline from 1963 to 1980. Average verbal scores fell over 50 points and average mathematics scores dropped nearly 40 points. 
  • Both the number and proportion of students demonstrating superior achievement on the SATs (i.e., those with scores of 650 or higher) have also dramatically declined. 
  • Nearly 40 percent cannot draw inferences from written material; only one-fifth can write a persuasive essay; and only one-third can solve a mathematics problem requiring several steps. 
  • There was a steady decline in science achievement scores of U.S. 17-year-olds as measured by national assessments of science in 1969, 1973, and 1977. 
  • Between 1975 and 1980, remedial mathematics courses in public 4-year colleges increased by 72 percent and now constitute one-quarter of all mathematics courses taught in thoseinstitutions."
These deficiencies and a host of others come at a time when the demand for highly skilled citizens in an increasing number of new fields is accelerating rapidly. For example:
  • "Computers and computer-controlled equipment are penetrating every aspect of our lives homes, factories, and offices. 
  • One estimate indicates that by the turn of the century millions of jobs will involve . . . technology and robotics . . . in health care, medical science, energy production, food processing, construction, and the building, repair, and maintenance of sophisticated scientific, educational, military, and industrial equipment." 
To underscore the commentary of A Nation At Risk, we append the following: According to educational researcher Paul Hurd who concluded after a thorough national survey of student achievement that "We are raising a new generation of Americans that is scientifically and technologically illiterate." John Slaughter, a former Director of the National Science Foundation, concluded similarly stating that there exists "a growing chasm between a small scientific and technological elite and a citizenry ill-informed, indeed uninformed, on issues with a science component."
". . . Of course, . . . the average citizen today is better educated and more knowledgeable than the average citizen of a generation ago -- more literate, and exposed to more mathematics, literature, and science. The positive impact of this fact on the well-being of our country and the lives of our people cannot be overstated. Nevertheless, the average graduate of our schools and colleges today is not as well-educated as the average graduate of 25 or 35 years ago, when a much smaller proportion of our population completed high school and college. The negative impact of this fact likewise cannot be overstated." 
Finally, recent reports on schooling in America show that the nation in general continues to be at risk (see The Third International Mathematics and Science Study (February 1998) and The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation Report [on State Standards] (July 1998) which found "that only 1 state had truly rigorous and clear standards in English, 1 in history, 3 in geography, 3 in math, and 6 in science. . . . twelve out of 28 states with English standards failed, 19 out of 38 states with history standards failed, 18 of 39 in Geography failed, 16 of 48 in math failed, and 9 out of 36 states with science standards failed." Indeed, when it comes to African American, Native American and Latin American youth the educational statistics are undoubtedly even more depressed (see Attachment II for a case in point). Hence, the Ida B. Wells Community Academy will strive to deliver high quality instruction and concern itself with creating more "public" public schools, i.e., "schools public in character, in operation and in purpose.

This discussion illustrates that you do not have to be African American, poor or a person of color to be at risk. All young people attending the nation's schools are in similar circumstances and, if change does not come, will continue to be at risk well into the next century. IBWCA commits itself to do its part to prepare and educate its student body, parents, faculty, administrators and the community at large to make certain they avoid this pitfall.

         Students Qualifying for D.P.I.A. Funds.

It is difficult to state definitively the percentage of students qualifying for DPIA funds. Suffice it to say that IBWCA expects 60 to 70% or more of its student body will qualify for these funds. The Ida B. Wells Community Academy's market research generated data supporting our expectations. There are sufficient numbers of so-called low-income and at-risk students, as defined above, residing within the metropolitan boundaries of the City of Akron and are currently attending Akron public and private schools. These data also attest to a pool of other children who will come of age and attend district schools within a few years. Moreover, a cursory examination of the District's suspension/expulsion percentages (see Table 4), the numbers of disadvantaged students (35.8%), the dropout rates (28.7 black and 24.4% white) and the number of low-income families black and white (the District median income is $21,006) undergirds IBWCA's move to establish a student- and parent-friendly learning environment. According to the 1990 U.S. census, the total population of Akron had a median income of $32,000; the African American population by contrast has a median income of $18,709 with 50% of population below the poverty level (11,325) and 125% of the population (or 22,314 persons) below the poverty level. Of the 32,331 young people enrolled in the Akron public schools in 1997, 46.8 are African American (see Table 5). There are approximately 9,914 African American school-age youngsters between ages 5 to 14 years residing in Akron. Since the total population of the city is 223,019 and its residents enjoy a very modest median income, it is clear there is also within the white community a substantial number of youth that can be defined as at-risk and under-served. This view is augmented by the number of dropouts and suspensions, even though it is lower than that reported for African Americans. It is further strengthened by the disparity Table 3 shows in the average number of African American honors students (7.2%) when contrasted with white honor students (15.6%). Therefore, it is apparent that IBWCA will succeed in recruiting a critical mass of low-income and other at-risk students from the African American, white, Native American and Latin American inner-city communities (see Table 4).

       3. Accountability System.

Various psychometric instruments, e.g., the California Achievement Test, IBWCA will be used to measure scientifically the degree to which its students exhibit the cultural, historical and social knowledge and sensitivities (sensibilities) the curriculum fosters. The inference here is that IBWCA will establish frequent opportunities for staff to conduct structured assessments of . . .

          1. how well students (and parents) are apprehending IBWCA's curricular structure, teaching style and methodology and IBWCA-student-community-parent relations;

          2. how well students are comprehending the lessons, learning materials and related class materials and activities; and

          3. how well IBWCA is making progress in its overall development as a creative and responsive learning process; and

          4. how well IBWCA has met its planned and comprehensive continuum of educational services for all studentsand particularly for special population students as required by rule 3301-51-04 and in accordance with the procedural safeguards outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B. Under this item is also included the assessment of IBWCA's ability to meet the needs of its under-challenged and exceptional students (see Attachment IV, "Notes on Special Education Plans and IBWCA").

IBWCA'S choice of methods to assess pupil progress is based on the following five beliefs about assessment:

          1. In order to have a complete picture of a student's growth, different types of assessments must be used. Assessments should focus on an individual student's growth towards a proficiency standard rather than comparing a student's performance against other students;

          2. There should be a close relationship between a desired student outcome and the means used to assess it;

          3. Assessing what students do with knowledge is as important as assessing what knowledge they have;

          4. Assessment should promote and support reflection and self-evaluation on the part of students, staff, parents and IBWCA; and

          5. Assessment, intervention and evaluation will proceed along the lines defined by MEO/SERRC in its "Combined Initiative Training: Assessment and Intervention" manual:

Intervention-Based Assessment (IBA) is a collaborative, problem-solving process which focuses upon a specific concern that affects the learner's educational progress within a learning environment. Individuals involved in this ongoing process include the learner, the learner's family and educators, who mutually define and analyze the concern(s), develop measurable goals, and design and implement interventions while monitoring the effectiveness of these through the use of performance data.

Intervention-Based Multifactored Evaluation (IBMFE) extends the IBA process and is used exclusively for students suspected of having a disability. A disability, as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), exists when the nature and intensity of the interventions constitute a need for specially designed instruction without which the student's performance would be adversely affected.

IBWCA will consult with Summit County's Special Education Regional Resource Center for advice on service delivery and for recommendations of validated and reliable assessment and evaluation tools and procedures for its special education students. 

IBWCA will use with other students a variety of performance-based assessment tools such as portfolios, demonstrations, and performance tasks. IBWCA will also use standardized tests that compare individual student progress to state standards. These standardized proficiency tests are also intended to report the proportion of students at the Ida B. Wells Community Academy who have reached (or exceeded) the state proficiency standards in math, reading, writing, science, and social studies.

        Tools for Assessment.

Portfolios will provide one perspective for assessing student growth. A portfolio is a daily or weekly collection of representative work. Reading, writing, speaking portfolios, for example, will contain results of student performance on a variety of assessments in writing, reading, and speaking. Scoring ranges will be developed and staff will receive training on using these agreed upon scoring ranges. Student reflection will be an integral part of the portfolio. In addition, the portfolios will serve as one tool that lets teachers determine how well they meet IBWCA-adopted proficiency targets, say, in one language English and becoming semi-fluent in a second language -- Kiswahili.

Demonstrations provide another means for assessing student growth. Demonstrations will, for example, be a part of a Reading/Writing/Speaking Portfolio or to assess proficiency in mathematics. The key element will be students demonstrating their attainment of specified standards to a panel of IBWCA staff, parents et al. These standards or desired outcomes will be based on the Ohio state-mandated curricular proficiency standards.

Performance represents a set of tasks that are assigned as a means of assessing students growth. These tasks will be based in combined curricular areas of language arts and social sciences but not exclusively so. Teachers will identify a number of performance goals that reflect content covered during the six-week grading period, semester or school year. Once identified, these goals will be defined and scoring methodologies devised so that the mastery of learning outcomes can be specifically determined. These goals will be designed to measure what students know and how well they apply what they know.

IBWCA's faculty as a group or individually will assess how well students can put into action what they have learned and experienced to construct, perform and carry out a meaningful service project designed to meet a community need within or without IBWCA. The task will demonstrate the student's ability to integrate several expected and desired social, educational or historical-cultural outcomes for students. A possible task could be stated as follows:
"Identify a service opportunity to serve the community. As you prepare yourself to perform the service, research, read and comprehend what others have done under similar circumstances that is related to the service you have chosen. Develop a written proposal that describes the service and that persuades others that what you intend to do is worthwhile. Provide the service. Finally, describe the process in writing as well as through another medium that can be video, music, speech, a song, art, poetry, or dance. You decide which medium (media) you want to use."
Standardized Assessment Tests that compare student progress to a proficiency standard will be used. These tests include the Ohio Board of Education Proficiency Test to measure reading, writing, and math, social studies and science proficiency in the 4th grade as grade levels are added, IBWCA will use proficiency tests for the 6th, 9th and 12th grades. IBWCA will consider the Language Assessment Scale for measuring gains in English proficiency; the California Aptitude Test (CAT); the Student Attitude Measure (SAM) to measure student motivation, student academic self-confidence, student sense of control over performance, and student sense of instructional mastery. IBWCA will also use a battery of assessment tests normed on inner-city and disadvantaged youth (see Handbook of Tests and Measurements for Black Populations. Reginald Jones, ed. 2 Volumes. Cobb & Henry Publishers, Hampton, VA, 1996). In addition to these instruments, IBWCA will use the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT) and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS). Other achievement test options will be used for groups: the CTBS, the MEA, the Metropolitan Achievement Tests, the Stanford Achievement Test; and for individual achievement: the Woodcock-Johnson, the Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT), the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT), the Key Math, the Woodcock Reading, the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children, and the Diagnostic Achievement Test for Adolescents.

           4. Effective Practices.

            Parental Involvement.

IBWCA's decision to involve parents as equal owners of IBWCA in meaningful and critical operational and managerial imperatives throughout IBWCA's start-up and operational phases is not usually replicated in traditional public and private schools. These imperatives include teaching, administrative and governance functions, committee assignments of various sorts, e.g., discipline, curriculum design and delivery, student recruitment and admissions, faculty/staff hiring and training, transportation, fund raising, and facility management and identification. Their children will attend an educational program wherein they, too, will have a role in the program's operation and governance (see the "Program Harmony Model," p. 3 above). IBWCA's program structure and continuum of educational options and procedural safeguards will be designed to meet the needs of students with disabilities. The parents of these children will be integrally involved with these and other curricular and managerial aspects of IBWCA. This full package of educational services will, therefore, help persuade parents that the Ida B. Wells Community Academy is a safe haven for their children and is intent on achieving excellence over and above some other educational program (see Attachment I, "A Selected Bibliography").

       Classroom Management.

Classrooms are administered by a trained and experienced teacher-principal and individually managed by certified teachers or teaching teams in collaboration with teacher assistants. A trained special education teacher (or teachers) will be on staff. These teachers will construct matrices of teaching strategies that will encompass the following areas and a number of others, e.g., classroom control and conflict resolution, that will be introduced as necessitated by the needs of IBWCA students.

          1. Meeting students where they are socially, culturally and academically and then moving them to higher and more intensive academic levels supported by incorporating instructional themes such as the avoidance of threat, meaningful and relevant content, learning style choices, sufficient time to assimilate content, an enriched learning environment, student-to-student collaboration, and immediate feedback; 

          2. Designing methodologies to confirm IBWCA's belief that all children can learn and that it is incumbent on educators to make that learning happen;

          3. Self-learning projects that are student or teacher initiated, conducted first in-school and later, based on student maturity, conducted out-of-school; 

          4. A holistic paradigm that allows students to experience how one set of basic skills directlyrelates to other basic skills, i.e., reading to mathematics, geography to social sciences, mathematics to science, culture to history; and how all these relate to being educated in general;

          5. Main streaming students with disabilities to the extent feasible so as to assure that all students' learning is administered equally and with care; and

          6. Periodic and unannounced classroom visitations to monitor and upgrade teacher performance.

Professional Development Faculty, Parents and Administrative and Support Staff.

All individuals actively engaged in the educational process Governing and Advisory Board members, faculty, parents, and administrative and support staff are required to undergo a comprehensive and ongoing training program and series of educational development workshops or forums. Since IBWCA proposes to create a non-standard educational paradigm, and since it encourages innovation and rigorous academic standards, these training and development programs coupled with a set of Faculty and Staff Expectations are essential to its proper and effective conduct and administration. Even though IBWCA cannot force its students' parents to attend and participate in this program, we hope parents will see and act on the absolute need for them to be integrally involved so that they, too, can join in as knowledgeable partners and cooperate with the other members of the educational team. It is to serve this need that students, parents and faculty/staff are presented with a detailed handbook that clearly outlines their rights and responsibilities. Moreover, parents are, in IBWCA's view, an essential educational support system for their children. They, too, must not only understand what is being done educationally but also be able to make suggestions to better IBWCA's effectiveness.

The tentative style and content of IBWCA's professional development program follows along these lines:

Phase I: Program Planning, Professional Development

     Advisory Group Development and Orientation

          Training areas

    1. General Advisory Procedures
    2. What is Special Education
      1. How do we fit into the Community School Picture
        1. Curriculum and Methodologies
        2. Faculty, Staff, Student, Parent Handbook
        3. Classroom Management
        4. School Management
        5. Educational Technology: e-mail, Teaching with the Internet, Library Links (Ohio and National)
      2. IDEA and the IBWCA Special Education Plan
        1. Types of disabilities 
        2. Classroom Management
        3. Service Management
        4. Medical and Educational Technology
    3. C. Curriculum Design and Development
      1. Standard Curriculum: What and How
      2. Infuse Curriculum: What and How
      3. Curriculum Revision-Downward
      4. Curriculum Revision-Upward
      5. Cultural Responsiveness
    4. Performance Expectations 
      1. Accountability and Assessment 
      2. Behavior
      3. Discipline
      4. Conflict Resolution
    5. School Schedule
    6. Facility management
    7. Data Collection, EMIS and Empirical/Qualitative Educational Research
     Governing Board Development and Orientation

          Training areas

    1. By Laws: What makes for an effective Board?
    2. What kind of Educational institution are we?
    3. The Three Rs: Roles, Rules and Responsibilities
      1. Faculty and Students and Parents Handbook
      2. Employment Policies
        1. Administrators
        2. Faculty and Staff
        3. Teaching Assistants
        4. Volunteers, Interns and Student Teachers
        5. Consultants: Researchers, Psychologists (Psychometricians)
        6. Support Staff: Secretaries, Accountant, Custodial Services, School Crossing Guards
    4. Data Collection, EMIS and Empirical/Qualitative Educational Research
    5. Required Assurances 
    6. Curriculum
      1. Standard Curriculum: What and How
      2. Infuse Curriculum: What and How
      3. Curriculum Revision Downward
      4. Curriculum Revision Upward
      5. Cultural Responsiveness
      6. Educational Technology: e-mail, Teaching with Internet Resources, Library Links (Ohio and National)
    7. Performance Expectations
      1. Accountability and Assessment
        1. Behavior 
        2. Discipline
        3. Conflict Resolution
    8. School Schedule
    9. Facility management
    10. Data Collection, EMIS and Empirical/Qualitative Educational Research
Phase II: Planning and Implementation 

     Faculty, Staff, Parents, Student Training and Orientation

  1. What kind of educational institution are we?
    1. Independent Public School
    2. Community Educational Partnership
  2. Program Governance and Management: By Laws, Employment Policies and ODE Contract
  3. The Three Rs: Roles, Rules and Responsibilities
    1. Faculty and Staff 
    2. Parents 
    3. Students
    4. Volunteers
    5. Interns and Student Teachers
  4. Training areas
    1. Curriculum
      1. Standard Curriculum: What and How
      2. Infuse Curriculum: What and How
      3. Curriculum Revision Downward
      4. Curriculum Revision Upward
      5. Cultural Responsiveness
      6. Textbook Selection, Purchase and Development
      7. Educational Technology: e-mail, Teaching with Internet Resources, Library Links (Ohio and National)
      8. Special Education and the Curriculum
      9. Required Assurances
    2. Classroom Management 
      1. Controlling the Classroom
        1. Behavior 
        2. Discipline
        3. Conflict Resolution
        4. Classroom Setup and Design
        5. Team (Collaborative) Teaching
    3. IBWCA's Performance expectations and Periodic Reviews
      1. Accountability and Assessment 
    4. School Schedule: IBWCA School Year (180 days) and Summer Session (30 days or 6 weeks)
    5. Facility management
        School Management.

Currently, IBWCA is jointly administered by Mrs. Emma Jean Calhoun and Edward W. Crosby, PhD. Later an experienced school administrator will be retained to be IBWCA's primary on-site officer in-charge, i.e., principal. An oversight committee or Advisory Board composed of students, parents of students with and without disabilities, teachers, administrators, and community professionals will be formed. This Advisory Board will oversee the school's daily educational operation, i.e., teaching assignments, curriculum revision, teacher performance, textbook selection, student discipline, etc. In short, on-site management will be an operational imperative. In addition, IBWCA will have a Board of Governors composed of, say, officials from Kent State University and the University of Akron, e.g., deans and department chairs and faculty, as well as parents, professional educators, health officials, psychologists, school teachers and business persons. Where the Advisory Group will meet weekly or daily as necessary, the Governing Board will meet on a monthly schedule.

           5. Networking.

As outlined under "School Management" above, IBWCA has developed a comprehensive network of individuals who have been and will continue to be instrumental in its planning, professional development and orientation, and implementation processes. These individuals along with others could also become members of the Advisory Board or Board of Governors. As planning proceeds this network will expand or contract. Presently, the following individuals have agreed or consented to be considered as members and will offer their professional services in the following areas:

     Psychological, Assessment and Counseling Services

  • Dr. Angela M. Neal-Barnett, Associate Professor of Psychology, Kent State University
  • Dr. Juanita K. Martin, Associate Director and Psychologist, Counseling, Testing and Career Center, The University of Akron 
     Curriculum Planning and Institutional Development:
  • Mrs. Emma Jean Calhoun, Chairperson, The Task Force for Quality Education, Akron, Ohio
  • Dr. Edward W. Crosby, PhD, Professor and Chair Emeritus, Department of Pan-African Studies, Kent State University
  • Dr. Kenneth Cushner, PhD, Professor, Middle Childhood Education, Teaching, Leadership and Curriculum Studies, and Assistant Dean for Student Life and Intercultural Affairs, College of Education, Kent State University 
  • Ms. Raita Bilal, Certified Teacher, Elementary Grades, Akron Public Schools
  • Mrs. Beverly Parker, Certified Teacher, Speech Pathology, Akron Public Schools, and Special Education Consultant
  • Mr. Perkins Pringle, Certified Teacher, Elementary Grades
  • Dr. Marlene R. Dorsey, Dean, College of Continuing Studies, Kent State University 
  • Mr. Gregory Dortch, IBWCA Accountant and Assistant State Auditor, State of Ohio Auditor'sOffice, Akron, Ohio, 
  • Mr. Dean Seavers, Marketing and Sales Executive, Allied Domecq Retailing - USA, Chicago, Illinois
  • Ms. Debra Calhoun, Director, African American Cultural Action Program, American Friends Service Committee and Temporary Assistant Professor, Department of Pan-African Studies, Kent State University
  • Mrs. Geraldine Hayes Chavez, Director, Project Upward Bound, Kent State University
  • Ms. Jacqueline Jackson, Graduate Assistant, College of Education, The University of Akron
  • Dr. Ronald McClendon, Assistant Professor, College of Education, The University of Akron
  • Dr. Robert Deitchman, Professor Emeritus, Social Work, The University of Akron
  • Dr. Deidre L. Badejo, Professor and Interim Chairperson, Department of Pan-African Studies, Kent State University
  • Mr. Elbert R.B. Pringle, Esq., JD, Legal Affairs Advisor, East Cleveland, Ohio
  • Ms. Tracy Thornton, Certified Teacher, Secondary Education - Social Studies (Graduates in May 1999), Kent State University 
  • Mr. William E. Calhoun, Businessman, Stewart and Calhoun, Funeral Home, Akron, Ohio
  • Ms. Jacqueline Garrett, Recqor Coordination, Cuyahoga Falls General Hospital, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
  • Mr. Herman Oden, retired from Goodyear Aerospace, Akron, Ohio
  • Mr. John Fuller, Department of Community Development and Planning, City of Akron 
     Professional Development, Orientation and Training:
  • Ms. Gloria McCullough, Assistant Dean, College of Continuing Studies, Kent State University
  • Dr. Deborah Wilcox, CEO, Organizational Development and Management, Confluency Kettering, Ohio
  • Dr. Ramona Brockett, JD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Criminal Justice, Kent State University 
     Electronic Media Technologies:
  • Ms. Gladys Smiley Bell, Associate Professor, Library and Media Services, Kent State University
           6. Facilities.

It is hoped IBWCA will be housed on the premises of the East Akron Salvation Army Post located at 1104 Johnson Street, P.O. Box 9187, Akron, Ohio 44305 (phone: 330.376.5169). This facility is more than adequate for the educational purposes we envision. It has several large to medium sized classrooms, a large gymnasium, a well equipped food service facility that is inspected monthly by the Summit County Health Department, a large fenced-in play area, and is fully accessible to those who are disabled. This facility already has some classroom furniture, exercise mats, sports equipment, etc., however, IBWCA will have to purchase or otherwise provide room dividers, classroom furniture for small children, desks and desk chairs for teachers and staff, and school essentials.

           7. Relationship with Akron Public School District.

IBWCA will not have any direct relationship with the Akron Public School District. IBWCA will, however, rely on the District to provide transportation to and from school. IBWCA will also seek to establish a working relationship with the District for the provision of other negotiated services such as food service, if necessary. In the short term IBWCA will negotiate working relationships which will include training in responding to ODE's data collection and submission (EMIS) requirements, the delivery of special education services, among other things. As time progresses IBWCA will seek from the District the ability for its students to participate in some District functions and/or facilities, e.g., the National Honor Society, varsity sports, natatoria, Glee Clubs, theatre and dance facilities, musical performances, speech declamations, debate societies, etc.

           8. Continued Operation.

The Governing Board of IBWCA will be oriented toward developing funding networks, overseeing the preparation of grant proposals and exploring a variety of community fund raising ventures to sustain where necessary programmatic items contained in this proposal and beyond. The Board will put its emphasis on raising funds to support envisioned site construction and capital improvements, equipment purchases and upgrades, the establishment of a computer lab, the creation of a library and media center, and a number of other things. IBWCA envisions becoming a full-fledged High School within a ten-year period or less. To accomplish this, IBWCA's Board must be actively engaged in making certain that IBWCA has the wherewithal to make this eventuality happen.

          9. Planning and Implementation Timelines.

   See Attachment V.
        10. Admissions Process.

The Ida B. Wells Community Academy (IBWCA) will serve students residing within the Akron City School District. IBWCA's student body will include low-income, under-achieving, under-served, under-challenged and under-represented inner-city youths. IBWCA will also include in its student body those students with physical, behavioral and learning disabilities. Even though the IBWCA's mission is to eventually serve students from Kindergarten to High School, it will initially serve only students in kindergarten through the 2nd grade, adding one grade per year thereafter. Students will be admitted to IBWCA in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code, Chap. 3314.06 which stipulates that "there will be no discrimination based on race, sex, religion or handicapping condition. . . . Admission will not be limited to intellectual ability, measures of achievement or aptitude, or athletic ability." The number of students IBWCA can serve is limited; after year one, enrollment preference will be given to continuing IBWCA students and their siblings. Other students will be accepted by lottery provided space is available (see "Statement on Assurances"). 


Local newspapers have already announced on two occasions that IBWCA will have a Community School up and running in September 1999. In addition to this the IBWCA network has already begun to canvass and distribute forms and brochures that request parental information and provide a summary of its mission statement, admission policy, educational program and goals and instructional design and educational philosophy. IBWCA will initiate an intensive promotion effort slated to begin January 1, 1999. This effort will include public service announcements on local radio and TV, paid advertisements, bumper stickers, fliers and posters, announcements in church bulletins, community forums, and appearances at organizational, community meetings, etc.

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