The Ida B. Wells Community Academy

Our Educational Philosophy

novi quid ex Africa!
"Everything new come out of Africa!" Pliny

Mission Statement 

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.

Educational Philosophy

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:

      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, physically 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 school days and 30 summer school days).

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.

      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 those institutions."
Finally, recent reports on schooling in America show that the nation in general continues to be at risk. Read "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. 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 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:

     Projected School Enrollment (at 15 students per grade level)
    50 Students  Year 2000  Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd 
    65 Students  Year 2001  Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd 
    80 Students   Year 2002 Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th
    95 Students  Year 2003 Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th
  110 Students  Year 2004 Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th

   Total Number Certified Staff 
Year One    3 Certified Teachers K, 1st, 2nd
Year Two    5 Certified Teachers K, 1st, 2nd (2 classes), 3rd
Year Three   7 Certified Teachers K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd (2 classes), 4th
Year Four   9 Certified Teachers K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th
Year Five  11 Certified Teachers K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th

     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).

Table 1. Grade-by-Grade Enrollment
1992-93 to October 1997
Akron Public Schools
Student Enrollment
1994-95 33,197
1995-96 32,095
1996-97 31,992
October 97 32,331

Table 2. Student Enrollment by Level
Level Number of Students
Elementary 16,503
Middle                         6,351
Senior High   8,687
  Teenage Parents Center       49
  Saturn School       10
  Overage High School      174
Miller South      425
IPP Students      132
Total   32,331 
Source:Just the Facts, Akron Public Schools.


Table 3. Report Card Data for Fiscal Year 1997
Akron Public Schools (IRN 043489)
Summit County
District Female
District Male
District Black Suspension Percentage  District White Suspension
District Female
District Male Suspension Average  District Black Suspension Average  District White Suspension Average  District 
Black Dropout Average 
White Dropout Average 
2.3 2.4 2.2 28.7 24.4
Attendance Average 
District Black Attendance Average District White Attendance Average District
- Current Year 
Average Number
- Current Year 
90.3 89.4 90.8 35.2 21.2
Black Honors
White Honors
Disabled Student Rate
- Current Year
Median Income
7.2 15.6 12.2 31,992 21,006
Source: The Ohio Department of Education Web Site "Report Cards" at All data, unless otherwise noted, are based on 3-year averages.


Table 4. 1996-1997 School Year Percentage
Students Suspended by High School
School Percentage 
of African American Students 
Percentage of 
Suspensions to African American Students 
      Buchtel 97 98
      Central-Hower 53 70
      East 37 44
      Ellet 22 30
      Firestone 44 72
      Garfield 39 51
      Kenmore 31 54
      North 35 47
Source:Equal Access to Education Association, Akron (as reported in the Akron Beacon Journal) --

Table 5. Enrollment by Ethnicity
1994-95 to October 1997
Akron Public Schools
Year and Percent of Total Enrollment
1994-1995 1995-1996 1996-1997 October
American Indian           0.1%           0.0%           0.1%            0.1%
Asian           2.1%           0.8%           2.0%            2.0%
African American
Hispanic/Latino           0.5%           0.5%           0.5%            0.5%
It is interesting to note that the City of Akron's under-represented population is 26% while the District's under-represented population is 49.5%. There is a con- centration of under-represented, [i.e., African American] students in one cluster of schools on the west side of Akron.
Source: Tables 1, 2 and 5 were excerpted from A Curriculum Management Audit of Akron Public Schools, Ohio. The audit was conducted by the Internal Curriculum Management Audit Center, Phi Delta Kappa, August 1998.

Academic Goals

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 . . .

  • 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.
At the End of Third Grade Students Should Be Able . . .
  • to demonstrate ability to place data on line plots; group and count by 100s, 1,000s; compare and order number sequences up to hundred thousands; add and group and regroup amounts up to hundred thousands;
  • to estimate answers to addition problems; to add, subtract, multiply, and divide three-digit numbers;
  • to know how to collect and organize information on the world -- geologic, geographic, environmental; explain the meaning of neighborhood, state, nation, continent, island, peninsula, etc.;
  • to demonstrate knowledge of other peoples' history, culture and traditions and aspirations;
  • to understand the meaning of health and how people stay healthy;
  • to further understand life cycles of animals, birds, insects, plants, and humans;
  • to begin learning how to use a dictionary and encyclopaedia; to prepare and maintain a personal learning log or journal;
  • to inform classmates about things they have observed, thought or read at home, at the movies, or on visits to the zoo;
  • to understand the basic social, political and economic systems of Ohio and the United States in general, Africa, Native America, Latin America, China, etc.; and
  • to show an increased knowledge of an African language.
The expected performance indicators enumerated above show (1) that the focus of the Academy's curriculum follows the basics of standard public school curricula with the one noteworthy and vital addition spoken to above "The Cultural Dimension" spoken to below and (2) that the Academy has developed an educational perspective that embraces high and comprehensive learning and behavioral standards. Furthermore, the Academy 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.

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;
      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 the Academy 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 priorities will also become priorities for the Academy:

  • 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 assurances, when coupled with Ohio Department of Education's goal to forge learning communities which support five fundamental guiding principles:
  • All students can learn.
  • Every learner possesses multiple intelligences.
  • Participation in a learning community fosters growth.
  • Diverse instructional strategies and environments increase learning.
  • Learning is a lifelong endeavor.
These program goals undergird the proposition that the Academy 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 is a Public for Public Schools (1996), the Academy 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 

The Ida B. Wells Community Academy
Program Harmony Model

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.

[Click on A and B for an explanation of Sowande's "Program Harmony Model" and an intoduction to his researach based "Afrocentric Paradigm of Curricular Holism."]

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.

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
possible and prudent. The Academy 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. The Academy'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 Academy's educational program relies on the research of scholars in the field. The Academy 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 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.

      1. Meeting 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; 
      2. Designing methodologies to confirm the Academy'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 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 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.

Assessment System

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 relations;
      2. how well students are comprehending the lessons, learning materials and related class materials and activities; and
      3. how well the Academy is making progress in its overall development as a creative and responsive learning process; and
      4. how well the Academy has met its planned and comprehensive continuum of educational services for all students and 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 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADM). Under this rubric is also included the assessment of the Academy's ability to meet the needs of its under challenged, under achieving students as well as its anticipated exceptional or gifted students.

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;
      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 the Academy; and
      5. Assessment, intervention and evaluation will proceed along the lines defined by the Mid-Eastern Ohio Special Education Regional Resource Center (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."

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.

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 Academy staff, parents et al. These standards or desired outcomes will be based on the Ohio state-mandated curricular proficiency standards.

Performance represents a set oftasks 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.

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:
"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.
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:
"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.

"The state fourth grade reading proficiency test will be administered three times a year to fourth graders beginning in the 2001-2002 school year: once before December 31, once after March 15, and once in the summer before fifth grade. Students who have not passed the test by the second administration must be offered intense summer remediation and the opportunity to take the test again when it is administered in the summer. The summer test is voluntary. 

"The fourth grade proficiency tests in writing, mathematics, science and citizenship will continue to be administered once a year."

"Summer Remediation

"Beginning in the summer of 1999, the bill requires all school districts to offer 'summer remediation' to any fourth or sixth grade student who fails to attain the designated scores on three or more of the five proficiency tests, and effective July 1, 1999, permits but does not requires, all school districts to retain such students in their current grade levels, whether or not the student attends summer school."

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:

  • 21 total units that must be taken in grades nine through twelve (this adds a minimum of 360 hours of required instruction for a high school student). A unit is 120 hours. For a laboratory hours. In physical education, 120 hours counts as one-half of a unit.
  • Increases the requirements for English language arts from 3 units to 4 units; mathematics from 2 units to 3 units; social studies from 2 units to 3 units including 60 hours of American history and 60 hours of American government; science from 1 unit to 2 units until September 15, 2003 and 3 units thereafter, including at all times 120 to 150 hours of biological sciences and 120 to 150 hours of physical science; physical education and health remain the same at 1/2 unit each. 
  • The requirement for electives is reduced from 9 units to 8 units until September 15, 2003, and 7 units thereafter; one unit (or two 1/2 units) from business/technology, fine arts and/or foreign language. 
  • Units earned in English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies that are delivered through integrated academic and technical instruction are eligible to meet the graduation requirements. 
Calendar and Schedule 

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 conducted.

The Ida B. Wells Community Academy
Daily Class Schedule* 
7:30 - 5:00 
 School Opening and Closing Times
8:15 - 8:30   Enter Building and Removal of Outerwear
8:15 - 8:45   Breakfast Served after Attendance and Lunch Count
8:45   "Start of the School Day" Program and Announcements
9:00   Dismissal to Classrooms
9:40 - 9:55   Kindergarten Recess
10:00 - 10:15   1st Grade Recess
10:20 - 10:35   2nd Grade Recess
12:15 - 12:35   Kindergarten Lunch / Recess
12:40 - 1:10   1st Grade Lunch / Recess 
1:15 - 1:30   2nd Grade Lunch / Recess
1:35 - 2:05   1st Grade: Science/Health - Social Studies 
 2nd Grade: Science/ Health - Social Studies
2:05 - 2:25   1st Grade: Kiswahili - Physical Education - Music - Art 
 2nd Grade: Kiswahili - Physical Education - Music - Art
2:30   Announcements
2:35   Dismissal of first bus students
2:40   Dismissal of walkers & second bus students 
*This daily schedule is subject to change.
The 1999 - 2000 School Calendar*

August 1999 

  2  Teacher Orientation Begins
11  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
16  Parent Orientation Begins
19  Board of Governors Meeting:  6:00pm
25  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
30  Student Orientation Begins: 


  6  Labor Day
  7  First Day of School
  8  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
  9  Board of Governors Meeting:  6:00pm
13 17  Student Assessments
22  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
30  Board of Governors Meeting:  6:00pm 


  6  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
20  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
21  Board of Governors Meeting:  6:00pm 


  3  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
  8  End of 1st Qtr.:  Report Cards Sent Home
11  Board of Governors Meeting:  6:00pm
11  Veteran's Day (Armistice Day)
12  Parent/Teacher Conferences:  No School
17  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
25  26  Thanksgiving Day Recess:  No School 


  1  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
  2  Board of Governors Meeting:  6:00pm
15  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
20  January 3, 2000  Winter Break
25  Christmas Day
26 January 1  Kwanzaa Celebration
December 31, 1999:  Eve of the New Millenium 

January 2000 

  1  First Day of the New Millenium
  3  Return To School
  5  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
  6  Board of Governors Meeting:  6:00pm
17  Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday
19  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
27  Board of Governors Meeting:  6:00pm
28  End of 2nd Qtr.:  Report Cards Sent Home 


  2  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
  7  Teacher In-Service:  No School
12  Frederick Douglass Birthday
16  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
17  Board of Governors Meeting:  6:00pm
23  W.E.B. DuBois Birthday 


  1  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
  9  Board of Governors Meeting:  6:00pm
15  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
20 - 24 Spring Break
29  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
30  Board of Governors Meeting:  6:00pm


  4  Easter Sunday
10  End of 3rd Qtr.:  Report Cards Sent Home
12  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
14  Parent/Teacher Conferences:  No School
20  Board of Governors Meeting:  6:00pm
26  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm


  1  May Day
  9  Mother's Day
10  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
11  Board of Governors Meeting:  6:00pm
15 - 19  Student Assessments
19  Malcolm X (el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz) Birthday
24  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
31  Memorial Day 


  1  Board of Governors Meeting:  6:00pm
  7  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
15  End of 4th Qtr.:  Report Cards Sent Home
16  Field Day/School Picnic:  Last Day of School
20  Father's Day
26  Summer Enrichment Program Start


  4  Independence Day
16  Ida B. Wells-Barnett Birthday


  3  Summer Enrichment Program Ends
10  Teacher Orientation Begins
11  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm 
16  Parent Orientation Begins
19  Board of Governors Meeting:  6:00pm
25  Advisory Board Meeting:  6:00pm
30  Student Orientation Begins: 


  4  Labor Day
  5  First Day of School

*Both Board Meeting and other dates and times are subject to change.

For More Information

Call: 330.376.4915 OR  FAX: 330.376.4912

Send e-Mail to

academy@concentric.netOR OR

Visit the Academy's Official Web Site

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