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PRESS RELEASE – January 10, 2006

Alison Perkins-Cohen                                                                           
Executive Director
Baltimore Curriculum Project
Phone: 410/235-0015
FAX: 410/235-0032
E-Mail: aperkins-cohen@baltimorecp.org


Baltimore Curriculum Project Objects to BCPSS
Plans to Replace Direct Instruction with Open Court

( Baltimore, MD ) – The proposed Baltimore City Public School System Budget for FY2007 includes $10 million to finance the removal of Direct Instruction (DI) from BCPSS schools and its replacement with the Open Court curriculum. Direct Instruction has been used successfully in 18 Baltimore City public schools since 1996 and has 30 years of research to support it. The BCPSS proposal ignores its own research from a 2003 report which recommended continuing Direct Instruction in light of positive impacts on student achievement. [1]

Parents, teachers, administrators and students have come to rely on Direct Instruction as a method for teaching children basic skills, where other methods have failed. Unlike Open Court, which is solely a reading and math curriculum, Direct Instruction is a model for comprehensive school reform (CSR).

CSR models like Direct Instruction are an important component of No Child Left Behind. They offer a comprehensive set of services that support curriculum implementation, professional development, governance, scheduling, family and community relations and other changes needed to improve schools.

Open Court is not a comprehensive school reform model, it has not been tested and evaluated thoroughly in Baltimore, and it does not have the breadth of research to support its effectiveness as does Direct Instruction.

The Baltimore Curriculum Project has helped implement Direct Instruction in 18 Baltimore City public schools since 1996 with remarkable success. Direct Instruction schools such as Hampstead Hill Academy, Collington Square School, and Dr. Rayner Browne Elementary have seen increases in the number of students scoring proficient or above on the Maryland State Assessment by as much as 385%.

In addition to BCPSS’ plans to eliminate Direct Instruction, they intend to keep the controversial Studio Curriculum that was implemented in September 2005. The city rushed to implement this unproven curriculum to boost state test scores. Studio has no research basis and has only been used in one other City – Denver – where it has had little impact on test scores.

BCPSS intends to trade a working schools reform model for a basal reading/math program and an unproven curriculum. The $10 million budgeted for the elimination of Direct Instruction could be better spent providing appropriate professional development for DI teachers and dedicated administrative support for the DI schools. For more information on Direct Instruction, please see the attached Fact Sheet (PDF).

[1] Addison, K. & Yakimowski, M. (2003). An Evaluation of the Direct Instruction Program: A Report Prepared for the Board of School Commissioners. Division of Research, Evaluation, Assessment, and Accountability, Baltimore City Public School System.