The Ida B. Wells Community
Our Educational Philosophy
novi quid ex Africa!
he Ida B. Wells Community Academy's (hereinafter referred to as "the Academy") mission is to establish a Learning Community within which to educate youth (5 to 11 years of age) in Kindergarten through the 6th grade in an innovative, diverse, 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 (and in due course, the ninth and twelfth) grade proficiency tests, (4) is a fully democratic and participatory educational process and (5) has a well conceived policy outlining the rights and responsibilities of the community at large, parents, students, teachers and administrators. The Academy will add at least one grade each year until it reaches the High School level in 2010 or sooner.
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. Students will, therefore, be taught a basic skills program with an interdisciplinary (holistic) learning focus. To accomplish this aim, the Academy has an educational philosophy that emphasizes in its program structure and instructional design the following essential curricular and procedural ingredients:
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;
The Academy'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. The Academy 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.
The Academy 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. The Academy 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.
The Academy 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."The Academy 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, the Academy will also, as stated above, infuse the cultures of other under represented Americans, namely Native Americans and Latinos.
Although the Ida B. Wells Community Academy doesn't intend to work exclusively with so-called "at risk" students, we have come to the same conclusion that the National Commission on Excellence in Education came to in A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform, A Report to the Nation and the Secretary of Education, United States Department of Education. In April of 1983, NCEE offered this on-point testimony supporting the Ida B. Wells Community Academy's decision to enter the educational reform struggle and to design their educational delivery system and support services as they have.
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." . . .
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:
This discussion illustrates that you do not have to be poor or African American, a person of color to be at risk. All young people attending the nation's schools are in similar jeopardy and, if change does not come, will continue to be at risk well into the next century. The Academy 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.
The Academy's decision to involve parents as equal owners of the Academy in meaningful and critical operational and managerial imperatives throughout the Academy'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" below). The Academy'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 the Academy. The Ida B. Wells Community Academy, as conceptualized, is a safe haven for America's youth and is intent on achieving educational and social excellence.
Characteristics of Students
The school'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:
School Enrollment (at 15 students per grade level)
Number Certified Staff
Student:Teacher Ratio: 15:1
The Ida B. Wells Community Academy will serve students residing within the Akron City School District. The Academy's student body will include, but not exclusively, low-income, disadvantaged, i.e., under achieving, under served, under challenged and under represented inner-city youths. The Academy believes its attempt to maintain a low student to 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 the Academy'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, during this five-year contract period, one grade per year thereafter. The Academy's reasons for addressing its programmatic energies to the education of low-income, disadvantaged 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."
Approximately 60 to 70% or more of Ithe Academy's students will qualify for DPIA funds. There are sufficient numbers of so-called disadvantaged or 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 (refer to the tables below). 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 and 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 the Academy'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 the 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 disadvantaged. This view is augmented by the number of dropouts and suspensions, even though it is lower than that reported for African Americans. The problem 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%). We use these statistics and those present below not to excoriate the Akron City School District, but rather to show a concrete, close to home example of the obstacle that exist when urgan youth try to receive a quality education in America.
It is, therefore, apparent that the Academy
is able to recruit a critical mass of students from the African American,
white, Native American and Latin American communities (see Table 4).
The Academy's curricular content at each grade level will be structured to produce the following expected and measurable performance outcomes as cited in and buttressed by the Ohio Board of Education's mandated Learning Outcomes published on the ODE Website at
the122nd General Assembly, Legislative Information OSBA Home page for the Ohio School Boards Association at
and in its published Competency-Based Programs for Social Studies, Language Arts, Mathematics, Comprehensive Arts, Foreign Languages and the Natural and Physical Sciences. Broadly speaking, the Academy's curriculum focuses on Ohio's Model. The Academy adheres to both the U.S. Department of Education's seven priorities and the ODE's five principles mentioned below under "Focus of the Curriculum." More specifically, the Academy assures students and parents that its kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students will be able to demonstrate measurable competence in no less than the following areas and will prepare them for later success on future proficiency examinations:
At the End of Kindergarten Students Should Be Able . . .
volley ball, baseball and basketball.
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 the Academy will design structured learning activities based on individual student interests and needs, the performance outcomes enumerated do not and cannot reflect all of the faculty's anticipated performance expectations. To be sure, they are no more than indications of the comprehensiveness of the Academy's curriculum. At the risk of redundancy, given the Academy'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.
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.
Focus of the Curriculum
As pointed out elsewhere in this contract, 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. The Academy'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;
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
The Ida B. Wells Community
out of sync with one another. A consequence of putting emphasis on this communal relationship, will demonstrate to parents and significant others that the Academy is able to provide children with a quality education; that the Academy is an appropriate school of choice, and that parents should avail themselves of the Academy's socio-cultural services and enroll their child(ren). To promote this notion of community, students, parents and educational program and goals as represented graphically by the "Program Harmony Model" working together harmoniously, the Academy will conduct a community-wide series of forums designed to announce and instruct the community on its personalized educational program, the student-friendly curricular structure, its emphasis on full participation of all constituencies, and its democratic program design and delivery system.Figure 1. Based on the "Program Harmony Model" developed by the late Nigerian Professor Fela Sowande in 1972 and the University of Pittsburgh, and modified by Edward W. Crosby, Professor and Chair Emeritus, Department of Pan-African Studies, Kent State University in January 1989.
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 Academy 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
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 under represented 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, the Academy understands that there is a commonality of educational barriers that obtain for all depressed classes of Americans. And that it is the Academy'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.
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 the Academy's student body.
students where they are socially, culturally, physically 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;
Various psychometric instruments, e.g., the California Achievement Test, the Academy 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 and the Ohio Proficiency Test program tests to assess the degree to which are satisfactorily assimilating information included in the State mandated performance outcomes at the 75th percentile or higher. The inference here is that the Academy will establish frequent opportunities for staff to conduct structured assessments of students particularly those students who leave the program and need to transition back into the Akron Public School System or into some other public school district. The Academy also needs on a regular basis to assess . . .
1. how well
students (and parents) are apprehending the Academy's curricular structure,
teaching style and methodology and the Academy's student-community-parent
The Academy'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;
"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.The Academy will consult with MEO-SERRC (Mid-Eastern Ohio-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.
The Academy will use with students a variety of performance-based assessment tools such as portfolios, demonstrations, and performance tasks. The Academy 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 Academy-adopted proficiency targets, say, in one language — English — and becoming semi-fluent in a second language — Kiswahili.The Academy'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 the Academy. 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:
It must be added here that the Academy will follow where applicable the provisions stated in SB 55 which became effective on November 21, 1997 and read in part 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, the Academy will use proficiency tests for the 6th, 9th and 12th grades. The Academy 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. The Academy 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, the Academy 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.
"School districts [and assumedly Community Schools] are required to assess each student at the end of first, second, and third grade and identify students reading below their grade level, beginning in the 1998-99 school year. Classroom teachers must be involved in the assessment and identification of students. The district must notify the parent or guardian of each student identifed as reading below grade level and must offer intervention services including intense summer remediation after third grade. The classroom teacher and parent or guardian must be offered the opportunity to participate both in developing and providing the intervention services.Graduation Requirements
The Academy will not have a high school graduation class until, as projected, 2010. Should a graduation occur earlier than 2010, all Academy seniors, pursuant to Senate Bill 55 (effective November 21, 1997), graduating after September 15, 2001 must complete the following minimum course requirements:
The Ida B. Wells Community Academy will
open each school day morning at 7:30 AM and close at 5:00 PM. Elementary
school students will not be allowed to enter the building before 8:15 AM
at which time breakfast will be served to those who are eligible or who
have requestedit. At 8:45 the school day begins
with the daily "Start of the School Day Program." This program consists
of announcements, the singing of "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," the SIFA
Pledge, and the "Recognition of the Ancestors Celebration." At 9:00 AM
students report to their classrooms where various learning activities are
2 Teacher Orientation Begins
6 Labor Day
6 Advisory Board Meeting:
3 Advisory Board Meeting:
1 Advisory Board Meeting:
1 First Day of the New Millenium
2 Advisory Board Meeting:
1 Advisory Board Meeting:
4 Easter Sunday
1 May Day
1 Board of Governors Meeting:
4 Independence Day
3 Summer Enrichment Program
4 Labor Day
*Both Board Meeting and other dates and times are subject to change.
For More Information
Call: 330.376.4915 OR
Send e-Mail to
Visit the Academy's Official Web Site
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