The Battle of City Springs Epilogue tells the story of a school in a high-poverty area of a large U.S. city that experienced years of failure before implementing the full immersion model of Direct Instruction. Until Baltimore’s City Springs Elementary started implementing the full immersion model of Direct Instruction in 1996, the school was considered to be the epitome of failure. Over 90 percent of the students were (and still are) eligible for free or reduced lunch. Academic performance was at sub-basement levels. No students in the 3rd grade or the 5th grade passed the Maryland state test, the MSPAP, in either mathematics or writing. The Abell Foundation rated City Springs as the 2nd lowest performing school in the city of Baltimore.
School climate was just as poor. Students ran the halls, and teachers locked classroom doors in order to control them…and keep others out. The 2000 PBS documentary, “The Battle of City Springs,” captured the difficulty of transforming the school during the second year of DI implementation, 1997-1998.
After six years of implementing the full immersion of DI with support from NIFDI, the school is the epitome of success. The halls are clean and orderly. Students are well behaved. Most important, student performance has improved dramatically. Students, teachers and the principal take great pride in their accomplishments.
Direct Instruction (DI) is often used to help students who are struggling academically. DI can be used to accelerate the learning of higher performing students, too. The 16-minute DVD, "Helping Kids Soar: Children Reaching Their Full Potential with Direct Instruction," portrays two schools in different parts of the country that have used DI successfully with all children, including high performing students: Emerson Elementary in Alliance, Nebraska and Fickett Elementary in Atlanta, Georgia.
Both schools follow a similar formula for achieving success:
All teachers and instructional aides received initial training and ongoing support from the National Institute for Direct Instruction (NIFDI).
*Students are grouped homogeneously and placed at their skill level.
*Student performance data is reviewed weekly to determine the appropriateness of instruction for all students.
*Students are allowed to progress at a faster pace and cover advanced content as their performance indicates.
The DVD shows how a careful implementation of Direct Instruction with NIFDI support can help bring out the joy and wonder of reading as it prepares students for advanced content.
Gering Public Schools, a small district in northwest Nebraska, used to suffer from an achievement gap in reading. In 2004, 36 percent of all Hispanic students in second grade met fluency benchmarks compared to 59 percent of all white students in the district’s three elementary schools. Low literacy performance was also a problem at the district’s sole junior high school.
That was before the district implemented the comprehensive Direct Instruction model with the support of the National Institute for Direct Instruction (NIFDI). Now the achievement gap in reading has been closed. Over three-fourths of all students meet second grade fluency benchmarks, with a higher percentage of Hispanic students meeting benchmarks than white students! At the junior high school, the need for remedial reading programs has declined drastically as students are much more able to comprehend content area texts.
The video, Closing the Performance Gap: The Gering Story, portrays the district’s transition from one with literacy problems to one in which all students receive an education that meets their literacy needs. The video describes the changes that have taken place in instruction, progress monitoring, and professional development through the implementation of the comprehensive Direct Instruction (DI) model.
Gering is one of many districts where NIFDI provides direct support for accelerating student performance through the comprehensive DI model. NIFDI offers the services districts need to implement the DI approach: assessment training and assessment assistance, pre-service training, on-site coaching and feedback visits, off-site data analysis, coaches’ (peer teacher) training, and weekly conference calls.
Please visit us online at nifdi.org with questions about the video or if you want more information on how NIFDI can help improve student literacy in your school or district.