Walls Runner-Up for National Student Improvement
following is excerpted from an article in the
Fall 2005 edition of ADI's Direct Instruction
to Phandoria Walls from Collington Square School.
Phandoria is this year's runner up for the national
Wayne Carnine Student Improvement Award. The
award exists to honor students who have made
exceptional gains as the result of being taught
by Direct Instruction programs and teachers.
Academic gains that students realize often coincide
with behavioral improvement as well as improved
self-esteem and confidence. As runner up, Phandoria
received a $100 prize.
was nominated by Brenda Kahn, Collington's curriculum
coordinator. Brenda wrote the following about
Phandoria and her achievements in her nomination
when one becomes complacent with the power of
the Direct Instruction curriculum, you encounter
yet another student for whom this program is
the key to their learning how to read. This
year, I received a reminder on what is possible
when you combine a superb curriculum with excellent
Walls entered Collington Square in late November
of this school year. She was assigned to a third-grade
homeroom, but chronologically belonged in fifth
grade, and she was essentially a nonreader.
Phandoria owned just a few sight words, and
placement testing suggested a Decoding A
 group. She was far
below any other student in the school. Seven
years into our implementation, we did not have
any other students requiring Decoding A
nor did we have a spare teacher to form a new
had the very unconventional idea of sending
Phandoria to work with kindergarten students
as a 'special helper.' The idea was to have
Phandoria receive Reading Mastery I 
instruction in a non-threatening and hopefully
self-esteem building manner. A very gifted Direct
Instruction kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Scott,
provided the much needed instruction. Even more
important than the instruction, Mrs. Scott provided
an environment where Phandoria felt valued and
surprisingly, Phandoria was able to provide
real assistance in handwriting to the kindergarteners
while she learned how to read. The placement
in the kindergarten classroom, though unconventional,
proved to be exactly what she needed. In just
2 months, she made tremendous progress and was
able to leave the kindergarten group and move
ahead to Reading Mastery II. 
has continued to steadily improve and has entered
Reading Master III 
as a strong, fluent reader. The unorthodox placement
would not have worked without the talents of
Mrs. Scott and the efforts of Phandoria.
has striven to learn how to read, and throughout
this school year, she has worked harder than
any other student at Collington Square. In less
than one school year, she has achieve three
years of growth in reading. She entered our
school feeling that she was stupid and that
she would never learn how to read. She now believes
that she is smart and that there is indeed nothing
wrong with her (nor was there ever anything
wrong with her). Watching Phandoria learn how
to read and become a student has once again
affirmed in my mind the power of Direct Instruction."
Decoding A is a remedial
reading program for students with some basic
reading skills such as letter recognition. It
is typically offered to grades four and up.
Mastery I is a beginner's
reading program for students with no reading
background. It is typically offered to kindergarteners.
Reading Mastery II
is typically offered to first graders.
Reading Mastery III is typically
offered to second graders.
Duff Wins Scholarship to Attend Camp Dudley
to Paul Duff from Hampstead Hill Academy. Paul
has received a full scholarship to attend Camp
Dudley in upstate New York. Founded in 1885,
this prestigious camp is the nation's oldest
camp for boys.
is one of just four fifth- grade boys selected
from more than 120 in Baltimore City to receive
this honor. The scholarship is provided by the
Club of Baltimore and Camp Dudley. The camp
offers swimming, canoeing, archery, and fellowship
with other students from around the world.
are very excited about the adventure Paul will
go on this summer at Camp Dudley," said
Hampstead Hill Principal Mathew Hornbeck. "He
was our nominee for a number of reasons. Paul
is one of the most affable and high performing
students at Hampstead Hill Academy."
is a fifth grader who travels with a primarily
6th grade class and is doing very well. He is
always so interested and ready to listen and
engage in a discussion of ideas. Paul is a wonderful
scholar, chess player, and all around great
kid. He's going to have a great time at the
camp. Paul interviewed so well that they actually
jumped at the chance to admit him."
Hornbeck went on to praise Paul's mother, Cynthia
Varner. Ms. Varner is Hampstead Hill's long-time
office secretary. She has been associated with
Hampstead Hill for more than 25 years, having
sent her two older boys to school there and
now with Paul in the 5th grade. In addition
to her duties as secretary, Ms. Varner is an
active PTO officer, parent volunteer and fundraiser.
"She is the perfect example of a committed
and caring employee that always does her best,"
said Mr. Hornbeck.
scholarship will allow him to return to Camp
Dudley each summer and eventually go on to become
a camp counselor. We wish Paul the best of luck
in his future endeavors.
is Outward Bound
for Success. Hampstead Hill and
BCP staff members prepare for a tree-climbing
challenge. (From left to right: Joanna Musumecci,
Jonathan Swann, Angela Scott, Matt Carpenter,
Matt Hornbeck, Ralph Marcetti, Alison Perkins
Cohen, Larry Schugam, Wayne Larrivey, Jeff
Bound isn't just for kids. On November
4, 2005 BCP sent 23 staff members from Collington
Square School, Hampstead Hill Academy, and BCP
to the Chesapeake
Bay Outward Bound Center in Leakin Park.
The day-long Insight program was filled with
outdoor games, problem-solving, and team-building
trip was organized by Jeff Krick, BCP’s Director
of Student Services. “We wanted to offer a team
building workshop with new challenges to our
staff. We also hoped to generate excitement
in Outward Bound's programs for the students,”
Bound's mission is to inspire character development
and self-discovery in people through challenge
and adventure, and to impel them to achieve
more than they ever thought possible. The programs
teach participants to show compassion for others
and to actively engage in creating a better
Square and Hampstead Hill staff members reported
that they had fun learning about themselves
and the teams they worked with. The teachers
and administrators in attendance agreed that
an Outward Bound program would provide a valuable
learning experience for their students. Participants
also gave specific suggestions on how to tailor
the program to meet their students’ needs.
are excited to report that all three BCP schools
(City Springs, Collington Square, and Hampstead
Hill Academy) have signed students up for 5
days of programs at Outward Bound next spring.
We look forward to reporting on these programs,
and how our students translate their experiences
from Outward Bound into classroom success.
|QUOTATION OF THE MONTH
"We are what we repeatedly
do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
- Aristotle (384-322 BC)
IN OUR SCHOOLS
from City Springs School (#08)
Springs Awards Students with Exciting
Field Trips. Students at City
Springs are regularly awarded for perfect
attendance, scholarship, and leadership
skills. On November 11, students from
grades pre-K through five visited Port
Discovery in Baltimore City.
order to participate students had to
complete all homework assignments from
September through November 11. During
the trip the students enjoyed arts and
crafts, dress-up time, and educational
activities such as learning about the
Farm. On October 19 students
from grades pre-K through five visited
Shaw's Farm. The students, who were
awarded for perfect attendance, picked
pumpkins, ate lunch on the lawn by the
barn, and went on a hay ride.
seventh, and eighth graders who exemplified
good behavior for one month were treated
to dinner and a show at Medieval
Times on October 28th. Sixty students
enjoyed an evening of merrymaking included
spectacular demonstrations of horse
riding and falconry, a magical play,
and delicious food.
City Springs continues to recognize
student leadership through its Leadership
Club. At the end of each day teachers
submit the names of students who have
followed school rules and earned enough
points during the day. The names are
kept in one of three bags: one for pre-K
- 2, another for 3 - 5, and a third
for 6 - 8. Once a month a name is drawn
from each bag. Winners receive prizes
such as grab bags of school supplies
and board games.
from Collington Square School (#97)
Day Program at Collington
with research indicating a strong correlation
between increased instructional time
and increased academic performance (particularly
for disadvantaged populations) Collington
Square has significantly expanded its
extended day program this year.
the past few years, Collington has used
its restructuring funds to extend the
school day by one half hour each day.
In 2003-2004, this likely contributed
to the significant increase in academic
outcomes we achieved that year. However,
during the last school year, BCP did
not receive the funding necessary to
run the extended day program until February
– less than a month before statewide
tests were given. With this loss of
instructional time last year, Collington
was able to maintain the gains made
the year prior, but did not make any
year, by operating Collington as a charter
school, BCP and Principal Eason have
increased control over the school’s
finances. Accordingly, Collington was
able to begin offering the additional
half hour of instruction on the very
first day school. In addition, for middle
school students, school continues for
another hour of instruction after that
with school running until 4:15 everyday
for those students (instead of 2:45).
In December, this program was expanded
to include first through fifth graders.
Now, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, those
students join the older students in
staying until 4:15.
these programs will mean a total of
113 additional instructional hours for
first through fifth graders and a whopping
225 additional hours for middle school
students – that is the equivalent of
about 7 additional weeks of school.
BCP congratulates Collington on this
great program and thanks Principal Eason
and his staff for their hard work and
commitment to the students of Collington
Wednesday, December 21st, Collington
Square School will hold their first
"Math Smack Down" of the 2005
-2006 school year. The Math Smack Downs
began three years ago as way to motivate
students to learn their math facts.
The competitions, with their wrestling
theme, provide a fun, educational way
for students to compete as a math class
against their fellow students.
When Millie Scroggs and Brenda Kahn,
Curriculum Coordinators, first designed
the activity, they struggled with how
they could enable groups of differing
abilities to compete against each other
fairly. They came upon the idea of giving
each group in the competition math facts
that they should know based on their
current math placement. Tailoring the
items to each team's ability allows
multi-grade levels, age groups, and
ability groups to compete against each
From the beginning, Millie and Brenda
also operated under the premise that
no child should be eliminated from the
competition. The students compete as
a team. If a student gets an item incorrect,
they simply move to the end of the line
for another try. Also, in keeping with
the idea of team work, students earn
bonus points for good sportsmanship
and for displaying team spirit.
The students are gearing up for the
next competition and looking forward
to seeing who will earn the right to
proudly display the Math Smack Down
from Hampstead Hill Academy (#47)
Hampstead Hill Website
Hill Academy's New Website
Hill's new website – www.HHA47.org
– is now live. The site will include
class pictures, school newsletters,
press clippings, admissions and uniform
policies, holiday and events calendars,
activities in our neighborhood, and
information on student performance.
Special thanks to parent Mark Frascati
for his expertise in making the website
Hill’s Food for Life Program
Hampstead Hill's Food For Life Program
is working with the Weinberg
Partnerships, Inc., and the Food
Studies Institute to bring healthy
eating habits and cooking to the school.
school students are learning about good
cooking habits including hygiene in
the kitchen, choosing ingredients, and
tasty recipes. Food Educator Ariel Demas
runs the Food for Life Program and hopes
to make it available to elementary grades
in the future. Beginning in January
2006, Food for Life will sponsor monthly
line up to answer questions posed
by Principal Matt Hornbeck in the
latest Math Rumble.
Get Ready to "Math Rumble"
"Let's get ready to rumble..."
shouted the announcer as dance music
boomed and the fans cheered. No, this
isn't a professional wrestling event;
it's the Hampstead
Hill Math Rumble.
Wednesday October 23rd Hampstead Hill
held it's annual Math Rumble, a contest
to help students improve their basic
math skills. Approximately 280 students
from grades 1-5 participated.
was held in the Hamptead Hill auditorium.
Each class ascended the stage to the
uproarious applause of their fellow
classmates. The excitement in the air
was palpable as each student stepped
forward to answer an addition or subtraction
participants in the Math Rumble received
a certificate and individual students
who answered correctly in each round
received a medal. Classrooms with the
highest percentage of students answering
correctly received a classroom banner.
Matt Hornbeck asked the math questions.
He was assisted by Tony Berry (the Math
Rumble MC), Kathi Sexton and her daughter
Tracy (Judges/timers), and Geri Swann
and Nancy Dannenfelser, who helped with
logistics and set-up. We are proud of
every student who participated in the
Math Rumble. Another Math Rumble is
planned for Middle School students in
the near future.
• BCP Homepage
with Educational Psychologist/Researcher
Rosenshine is Professor Emeritus in
the Department of Educational Psychology
at the University of Illinois. He is
an education psychologist, researcher,
and expert on instructional methods.
His research has contributed a great
deal to understanding the effectiveness
of various instructional methods. Mr.
Rosenshine earned an undergraduate degree
in psychology at the University of Chicago
in 1957 and was awarded a Ph.D. in educational
psychology from Stanford University
in 1968. He was on the faculty at Temple
University from 1966 to 1970, before
joining the faculty at the University
following interview was conducted via
Mr. Rosenshine, why does school reform
in low income communities tend to result
in a period of improvement followed
by a plateau beyond which the schools
research on improving reading in primary
grades has always, always, shown that
teachers and specific programs are able
to raise scores in decoding fairly easily,
but it is very difficult to raise scores
in reading comprehension after a modest
gain. It is also much easier to obtain
gains in math computation and more difficult
in math problem solving.
if your question is: why is it so much
harder to raise scores in reading comprehension
than it is to raise scores in decoding,
or if your question is : why is it so
hard to raise scores in reading comprehension
-- then I have a few answers.
am interested in finding out why it
is so hard to raise scores in reading
comprehension. I am also interested
in whether or not this is more of a
problem for low-income schools and why.
problem is turnover. It's hard to do
much with 75 percent turnover. I read
that kids from low-income families who
have stayed in the same school, do quite
is consistent with our experience -
generally we find that students we have
had since kindergarten tend to be on
grade level. However, if a student from
a low-income family manages to say in
the same school, does he face any other
of the skills that all kids face is
fluent reading so that the mind can
focus on comprehension and not on decoding
or word meaning. I believe the Direct
Instruction program is outstanding in
developing such fluency.
necessary skill has been called "reading
to learn," that is, approaching
a text as a source of knowledge and
not as a series of words to be voiced.
Many of the cognitive strategies, such
as learning to ask questions about a
text, have proven useful in teaching
kids to read to learn.
necessary skill, which is a particularly
important test-taking skill, is the
ability to infer. If you look at the
passages on standardized tests in reading
and try to answer the questions, I think
you'll find that your mind has to re-read
and go through gyrations in order to
answer these questions. When we studied
two different tests eight years ago,
we found that many of the passages didn't
have topic sentences and that the questions
were different from the types of questions
that appear in typical reading books.
I believe, and others need to check
me out, that there is a difference between
the types of passages and types of questions
that often appear on standardized tests
and the types of passages and questions
that are typically read in 4th and 5th
possible solution then, is to focus
on inference skills in the classroom.
I found that questions that appear in
the Junior Great Books series do focus
on requiring inference. I would hope
that others would study the standardized
tests, identify the types of skills
that are necessary to answer the questions,
and attempt to teach these skills in
the classroom. But teaching the inference
process that is required to answer questions
on the standardized test is very difficult.
I would inquire to see what others have
learned on this topic.
limited vocabulary have an impact?
is a major problem. I saw a table on
vocabulary growth that showed vocabulary
growing at a 40 degree angle -- across
age -- for middle class kids and at
a 25 degree angle for lower class kids.
does the teacher affect student achievement
in reading comprehension?
teachers are more skilled than others.
Even within a highly-structured program,
some teachers are more determined that
their students will learn. I have always
enjoyed visiting those teachers and
watching their skilled performance.
about the impact of extended day? This
year BCP has expanded its extended day
at Collington Square School.
most highly acclaimed charter schools
all have an extended day and Saturday
and summer school. The manager of KIPP
said that their kids spent 68% more
time in school. The additional time
for those schools is spent engaged in
instruction and practice in reading
also recommend using national programs
that have the best track record, such
as Direct Instruction and Success for
All because of the advantage of a school-wide
program and their national experience.
uses both Direct Instruction and Core
Knowledge in our charter schools. What
do you think of Core Knowledge?
a long-term fan of Don Hirsch, beginning
18 or so years ago when I used some
of his articles in my educational psychology
classes. I have the highest regard for
the Core Knowledge curriculum.
more information on student achievement
and instructional methods see the following
B. (1996). Advances in Research on
Instruction. In J.W. Lloyd, E.J. Kameanui,
and D. Chard (Eds.) (1997) Issues
in educating students with disabilities.
Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum: Pp.
B. (2002). Converging Findings on
Classroom Instruction. In A. Molnar
(Ed.) School Reform Proposals: The
Research Evidence. Greenwich, CT:
Information Age Publishing: Pp. 9-9.30.
B. (2005). Helping Students from Low-Income
Families. OQE Forum, 14,
Farbman, D. & Kaplan, C. (2005).
Time for a Change: The Promise of
Extended-Time Schools for Promoting
Student Achievement. Boston, MA: Massachusetts
• BCP Homepage
to the Charter School Act
Thursday, December 1, a working group of the
Heath and Environmental Affairs Committee
met to develop a draft bill that would lend
clarification to Maryland’s Charter
School Act. Specifically, the bill would
clarify the methodology that Local Education
Agencies (LEA) should use in calculating the
per pupil funding level due charters.
on research conducted through surveys to all
the LEAs in Maryland, the working group tried
to identify the average portion of non-restricted
LEA funds received by schools in each LEA. The
survey asked respondents to consider their total
revenue, remove funds restricted for certain
purposes or populations (such as Title I) and
remove funds designated for Special Education
and transportation. After those portions were
removed, LEA’s were to report the portion of
remaining resources that are allocated to schools.
The survey results indicated that somewhere
between 65 and 96% of the remaining portion
is allocated to schools with most LEAs providing
around 85% to schools. Accordingly, the draft
bill would define commensurate as 85% of an
LEA’s resources after all restricted, Special
Education and transportation funds have been
removed. This methodology would render a funding
level close to what BCPSS currently provides
charters. According to BCPSS’s response to the
survey, schools currently receive 86.1% of such
expects to follow this legislation during the
upcoming legislative session and continue our
efforts to ensure funding provided charters
is equivalent to, not more than, that received
by traditional public school students.
|• BCP Homepage
Back to Top