Our Education Program
Imagine Andrews PCS has selected the Core Knowledge Sequence to provide content standards that will guide coherent instruction from grade to grade, encouraging steady academic progress as children build their knowledge and skills from one year to the next.
Specific content covers a broad liberal arts spectrum that must be integrated throughout the daily schedule in creative, intentional ways. The Core Knowledge Sequence is a detailed outline of specific content to be taught in language arts, history, geography, mathematics, science, and the fine arts. These content standards form the core of a school’s curriculum and provide a solid, coherent foundation of learning.
The educational program will be characterized by the following elements:
- Broad liberal arts content-focused curriculum, including art, music, and foreign languages
- Integration of content themes across subject matters
- Balance between skills and content standards
- A goal of using enrichment opportunities to expose children and allow them to interact with content in multiple ways
Why Core Knowledge? Many schools are de-emphasizing specific and sequenced prescriptions of what students should know in favor of an increased focus on skill development and strategies to better engage students. While skill improvement and relevance are important aspects of learning, we believe specific, sequenced, and integrated road maps for how and when students should master specific information is critical for building a broad and strong academic foundation. This promises to give children access to a literate society and provides young people with the broadest range of options for their futures and professional lives.
- The decision to integrate the Core Knowledge Scope and Sequence into Imagine Andrews PCS’s academic program is based on the following presuppositions:
- Literacy depends on a shared knowledge. Literacy requires a familiarity with a broad range of knowledge presupposed by speakers and writers in our culture.
- The “core knowledge” of literate society should provide specific standards, clearly articulating what students are to learn in each subject.
- Knowledge builds on knowledge. Thus, “core knowledge” must not only define what students learn, but also the sequence in which they learn it.
- Mastery of foundational knowledge provides a basis for more powerful critical thinking, analytical, and problem-solving skills.
- The foundation of information shared by a literate society changes very slowly, despite the rapid advances occurring in our society.
The K-8 Core Knowledge Sequence outlines the content that teachers will teach in Language Arts/English, History and Geography, Visual Arts, Music, Mathematics, and Science. In each of these areas, the Imagine Andrews PCS Principal and staff will select curriculum supports and tools to aid in teaching content.
Academically Rich Environment
In addition to Core Knowledge, Imagine Andrews PCS’s content standards will incorporate the Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum, for several reasons. First, Maryland’s curriculum standards are demanding and support the development of an academically rich learning environment. Second, Imagine Andrews PCS fully understands that the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) is based on the Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum and strives to prepare its students for the high stakes assessment as thoroughly as possible.
By aligning the Core Knowledge Scope and Sequence and the Maryland Curriculum Standards our teachers will be able to shape their unit plans and daily lesson plans to ensure that Core Knowledge content objectives and Maryland Standards are met.
Measuring Student Learning
At Imagine Andrews, we measure the academic performance of our students primarily based on same-student learning gains (i.e., the improvement in student achievement in reading and math measured for the same students from the beginning until the end of each school year). As educators, we realize that the quality of a child’s education cannot be measured solely by scores on standardized reading and math tests, which by their nature do not assess students’ conceptual thinking, their ability to do research and to evaluate and defend ideas, their skill at written and oral expression, or their success in collaborative or teamwork settings.
Therefore, we place heavy emphasis on measuring annual same-student academic progress. We test students at the start of each year to provide baseline information for a variety of tested skills and knowledge, enabling teachers to focus on the areas where each student needs the most help. We test students again at the end of the year to assess how much each student has progressed and how much on average the students in the class, the grade, and the school have gained. Thus we recognize a student, or an entire class, who started far behind grade level and made significant progress to catch up as having succeeded.
We realize that some students may start ahead of grade level. These students will likely score well on proficiency tests, while showing more modest learning gains since they are already ahead of their expected grade level. For this reason, we evaluate our schools using both same-student learning gains and performance on state tests, and grade our schools on the better of the two. Further, because all students are tested in the spring as well as the fall, all teachers will be able to begin the school year with data on each student. This data will enable the teachers to effectively differentiate for each student beginning on the first day of school.
Our assessments will be used to inform students, teachers, and parents about where a student is succeeding and the areas that need strengthening. Assessment will serve as a feedback system to guide teachers in lesson planning and individualizing instruction. Additionally, it will guide students in understanding what full mastery of a standard is, and it will keep parents informed about student progress.
Teachers at Imagine Andrews Public Charter School will also be trained to use assessments as a focused tool to accelerate achievement. In our classrooms, assessment will be:
- Timely, given while learning is in progress
- Focused on the current learning tasks
- Specific about improvement needs
- Used to expand student understanding and mastery of content
Imagine Andrews PCS will employ a professional school counselor to deliver a comprehensive guidance and counseling program to all students. The School Counseling Program will be developmental and proactive in nature, consisting of individual, group, classroom, and school-wide guidance lessons. The school counseling program will be designed to assist students in these, as well as other areas, as determined by school officials:
- Facilitating personal and academic growth
- Encouraging the development of education and career decision-making
- Promoting the development of interpersonal skills
- Attending to the unique stressors faced by children of military families
Positive Character Development
Imagine Schools places a strong emphasis on each child’s character development and measures progress in student behavior and overall school culture. As a result, Imagine Andrews will integrate a Character Education curriculum, such as Core Virtues, into all areas of the school community.
The principles of character education are utilized as basic tenets for an integrated character education program. The program includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- The teacher as caregiver, model and mentor
- The classroom as a democratic community
- Activities that promote values and ethics
- Encouraging moral reflection
- Discussion of issues and answers, problems and solutions
- Conflict resolution and students as mediators
- Parent and community involvement