More schools may get Calvert as partner

December 03, 1993|By Gary Gately | Gary Gately,Staff Writer

Heartened by the success of a 3-year-old partnership between a Baltimore public school and the private Calvert School, city Superintendent Walter G. Amprey said last night that he is looking into expanding Calvert's role into a few other city schools.

Dr. Amprey said that school administrators, school board members and Calvert officials will discuss a possible expansion of the Calvert program beyond the Barclay School in Charles Village, where the unique partnership began.

Key questions, including financing for any such expansion, remain unanswered, but the superintendent said the overwhelming success of the collaboration prompted administrators and school board members to look for ways -- and financing -- to expand.

The Abell Foundation has provided $300,000 thus far for the four-year experiment between between Calvert and Barclay, which now offers the program in kindergarten through fourth grades.

Robert C. Embry Jr., president of both the Abell Foundation and the state school board, said the private foundation would consider financing an expansion to all grades at Barclay, the elementary-middle school, and possibly to other city public schools.

"This experiment confirms there's nothing wrong with our kids," Dr. Amprey said. "Given the right kind of environment, they will do extremely well. What was surprising about it was how quickly kids can do well with the right kind of ingredients." The superintendent's comments last night came after he and school board members heard a Johns Hopkins University researcher's presentation on the partnership, based on a comprehensive evaluation made public last week.

The evaluation found that the collaboration has surpassed even the most optimistic expectations -- raising test scores to record levels, improving attendance and shrinking class sizes.

Margaret W. Licht, who works full time at Barclay as Calvert's curriculum coordinator, said the exclusive North Baltimore school would like to expand its role in city public schools but its governing body must meet to discuss details.

The nonprofit Abell Foundation began financing the Barclay-Calvert partnership in the 1990-1991 school year, when Calvert brought its teaching methods and curriculum stressing mastery of the basics to the school on Barclay Street.

The Hopkins evaluation, by researcher Sam Stringfield, found that students in the program scored well above the national average in reading, writing and math on national standardized tests. Students in the Barclay-Calvert program fared much better than did Barclay students who had not participated in the program, the evaluation said.

Dr. Stringfield also credited the Calvert curriculum with markedly improving attendance, parental involvement and students' enthusiasm about their studies.

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