The Calvert Way

January 26, 1995

The articles in The Sunday Sun by Gary Gately and Mike Bowler on lessons learned from the use of the Calvert School curriculum at two city public schools give plenty of food for thought.

Here is a curriculum, initially intended for home study and for use by the private North Baltimore school, which demonstrably achieves results.

Or, as Sam Stringfield, a Johns Hopkins researcher, recently concluded in an evaluation: "A striking feature of Calvert School is the universally high level of confidence that Calvert students can excel academically. Teachers and administrators assume their graduates will not only do well in high school and college, but can and must grow up to become leaders in their communities."

The Calvert curriculum now is in use at the Barclay and Woodson public schools.

Within two years, the latter is to become a training site where city school staff members can become Calvert curriculum coordinators for other schools.

This is the way to go. Under Superintendent Walter G. Amprey, the city school system has experimented with various teaching methods. While the privatized schools run by Education Alternatives Inc. remain a question mark, growing evidence suggests the old-fashioned Calvert approach is a winner.

Education is a field that has seen so many snake-oil salesmen and hucksters that Calvert's studied modesty is reassuring.

When the curriculum was introduced at Barclay in the 1990-91 school year -- after a fierce fight that contributed to the firing of Superintendent Richard Hunter -- the pace was deliberately slow.

"Barclay did not attempt to implement the very different Calvert curriculum and instructional program all at once," Dr. Stringfield wrote. "Rather, the program began with a full-time trainer working for a full year just with the Barclay kindergarten and first grade classes."

Other levels were added to the program in subsequent years.

Barclay was able to take the ample preparations because of financial aid from the Abell Foundation, which is also supporting the Calvert program at Woodson.

If the Calvert approach is to be made to work at other schools, similar outside funding seems desirable. Finding it should not be too difficult, though. Nothing impresses foundations or even corporations more than proven success.

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