The Baltimore Curriculum Project (BCP)
was founded in
January 1996 by Dr. Muriel Berkeley and Abell Foundation
President Robert C. Embry, Jr. The original mission of
- to make available to all interested Baltimore City public
schools detailed lessons in a unified curriculum that incorporates
high standards and is effective and efficient,
- to provide school personnel with the training necessary
to implement the curriculum correctly, and
- to assist the schools in rearranging their management
as needed to provide the greatest possible support to classroom
It was thought that a highly structured, interrelated curriculum
could help teachers present skills and materials consistently
and thoroughly. No longer required to write lessons, teachers
would have more time and energy to perfect their presentation
skills, monitor students' progress, and keep parents informed
of their children's progress and advised of their own role
in the children's academic development.
The Abell Foundation’s initial
grant of $400,000 enabled Dr. Berkeley to set up an office
in February 1996 and to secure the services of several educators.
For the first five months, the Project members did little
more than research – reading
books and articles, visiting schools whose activities showed
promise, attending conferences, talking with teachers and
principals. The first Baltimore public elementary schools
to join the project were Roland Park Elementary, Hampstead
Hill Elementary, City Springs Elementary, Arundel Elementary,
and Robert W. Coleman Elementary.
BCP has offered technical assistance to 18 Baltimore City
Public School System schools that implement Direct Instruction/Core
CORE KNOWLEDGE CURRICULUM
Dr. Berkeley chose
E.D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Curriculum
to be an essential part of the new Project. E.D. Hirsch is
the founder and chairman of the nonprofit Core Knowledge
Foundation and professor emeritus of education and humanities
at the University of Virginia. He “founded the Core
Knowledge Foundation in 1986 to promote excellence and fairness
in early education.”
Project lessons would be figured and classes organized in
accord with the Core Knowledge Foundation’s recommended
sequence of information to be learned. Project members
were greatly impressed with Core Knowledge’s curricula
lists and underlying philosophy.
BCP also chose to implement Direct Instruction (DI) in its
schools. This has proven to be an effective complement to
the Core Knowledge curriculum. Direct Instruction is used
to help students gain the basic reading, writing and mathematics
skills they will need before proceeding to the more advanced
From Direct Instruction, BCP receives a method of teaching
elementary school reading, writing, and mathematics. All Direct
Instruction programs have strong instructional design and
have been field tested and revised over the past thirty years.
DI programs are complete. They take nothing for granted.
Teachers make no assumptions about what children have learned
or will learn outside of school. All necessary skills are
taught in the classroom. Teachers use scripted lesson plans
that have been experimented with for a generation and honed
to a fine point. The underlying premise of the DI curriculum
is that all children can learn if they are taught well.
Direct Instruction consists of carefully scripted lessons,
backed by texts and workbooks that establish an interactive,
energetic engagement between a teacher and a group of students
who are at approximately the same level of learning –
an engagement that is carefully organized, directed, and paced.
Student responses are both individual and choral and are directed
in such a way that no one is left unengaged.
Ideas and practices are introduced in an order carefully
developed to avoid confusion and to facilitate generalization,
and children get the immediate reward of recognizing that
something new and clarifying has been learned. Attention spans
are stretched, and tendencies to misbehave are mostly lost
in the positive, focused activity and energy present in the
DI is widely regarded as a “researched-based”
model of instruction. Over a period of thirty years, each
DI lesson sequence has been extensively field-tested to determine
the most effective and efficient way to lead students to mastery.
The effectiveness of DI is evident in the results of numerous
research initiatives. The following studies demonstrate the
substantial scientific research basis for DI.
- American Federation of Teachers (1998). Building on the Best, Learning from What Works: Six Promising Schoolwide Reform Programs.
- Benner, Gregory J., Alexandra Trout, Philip D. Nordness, J. Ron Nelson, Michael H. Epstein, Maria-Louisa Knobel, Alice Epstein, Ken Maguire, and Rodney Birdsell. (2002). The Effects of the Language for Learning Program on the Receptive Language Skills of Kindergarten Children. Journal of Direct Instruction, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 67–74.
- Borman, G.D., Hewes, G.M., Overman, L.T. & Brown, S. (2002). Comprehensive School Reform and Student Achievement: A Meta-Analysis. CRESPAR Report #59. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University, Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed At Risk.
- Butler, A. (2005). Closing the Reading Gap. h Magazine. The Heinz Endowments.
- Carlson, C. D., & Francis, D. J. (2002). Increasing the reading achievement of at-risk children through Direct Instruction: Evaluation of the Rodeo Institute for Teacher Excellence (RITE). Journal of Education for Students Placed At Risk, 7(2), 141-166.
- The Catalog of School Reform Models: Direct Instruction Model (K-8). NW Regional Educational Laboratory.
- CSRQ Center Report on Elementary School Comprehensive School Reform Models. (2005). The Comprehensive School Reform Quality Center. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research. <http://www.csrq.org>
- Grossen, B. (2004). Success of a Direct Instruction Model at a Secondary Level School with High-Risk Students. USA Reading & Writing Quarterly. Oregon: University of Oregon.
- Herman, R., Aladjam, D., McMahon, P., Masem, E., Mulligan, I., Smith, O., O'Malley, A., Quinones, S., Reeve, A., and Woodruff, D. (1999). An Educator's Guide to Schoolwide Reform. The American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Education Association, and Educational Research Service.
- Schacter, J. (1999). Reading Programs that Work: A Review of Programs for Pre-kindergarten to 4th grade. Santa Monica, CA: Milken Family Foundation.
- Schug, M. C., Tarver, S. G., & Western, R. D. (2001). Direct Instruction and the teaching of early reading: Wisconsin’s teacher-led insurgency. Wisconsin Policy Research Institute Report, 14(2), 1. <http://www.wpri.org>
- Scientific Community Recognizes Direct Instruction: Press release. National Institute for Direct Instruction.
- Smith, S. (2004). SRA Corrective Reading. Florida Center for Reading Research. http://www.fcrr.org/FCRRReports/PDF/corrective_reading_final.pdf
- Stebbins, L.B., St. Pierre, R.G., Proper, E.C., Anderson, R.B. & Cerva, T.R. (1977). Education as Experimentation: A planned variation model (Vol. IV-A). Cambridge, MA: Abt Associates.
- Tarver, S. (1999). Alert No. 2: Direct Instruction. Current Practice Alerts. <http://www.dldcec.org/ld_resources/print/alerts_print.html>
- Traub, J. (1999). Better by Design? A Consumer's Guide to Schoolwide Reform. The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.
BCP has operated Baltimore City schools since 1996, when
it assumed operation of City Springs Elementary
School under Baltimore City’s New Schools Initiative.
In 2002, BCP assumed operation of Collington Square School
and Hampstead Hills Academy.
In 2005 BCP converted all
three of its schools into charter schools. These schools
continue to serve their existing student bodies and communities.
a charter school operator BCP has gained both increased freedom
to implement innovative school programming and a stable funding
In 2007 Dr. Rayner Browne Elementary and General Wolfe Elementary
became BCP charter schools
ADDITIONAL PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
In order to address the array of challenges faced by students
from low-income families, BCP has begun to provide after-school
services at some of its schools including the BCP After School
Program at City Springs School and the BCP Community School
at Collington Square. BCP also provides a customized
advisory curriculum for middle grades students.
BCP continues to seek out and implement the most effective
research-based instructional methods for all of its charter
schools and to share these methods with schools throughout
the Baltimore City Public School System.