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Academics

High Academic Achievement

Davis Leadership Academy takes pride in its rigorous, college preparatory, middle school curriculum. To help new students prepare for the school's academic demands, the Academy requires incoming students to attend to ensure that the students are prepared for the academic demands of the Academy, incoming students are required to attend a two-week summer institute.

The Academy offers interdisciplinary learning and real-world application of content knowledge and skills within their classrooms, distinctive programs such as Rites of Passage, conflict resolution training and service learning programs. The Academy  also offers a number of support services that include additional math programs,  after-school tutoring and preparation for MCAS, ISEE and SSAT tests.

The Academy's college preparatory program helps students to succeed in New England's best high schools and, eventually, in some of the nation's top colleges and universities. Eighty percent of the school's first 8th grade graduating class received acceptance into private, charter, pilot, METCO or one of Boston Public's exam high schools. The Academy has partnerships with Steppingstone, A Better Chance, Concord Academy, the Boston Learning Center's BIFF (Building Inspiration to Fight Failure) program and Cambridge School of Weston's Project Rise.

Core Values

Leadership, one of the school's core values, is an intricate part of the Davis Leadership Academy curriculum. We believe that learning becomes meaningful when students apply their content knowledge and skills to act on and resolve "real world" issues. We cultivate students' leadership potential in three primary ways: 1) linking classroom instruction with service-learning projects; 2) engaging students in ethics courses to help them identify, understand and appreciate the principles of morality and acceptable conduct; and 3) educating students in dispute resolution and consensus building to lay the foundation for responsible community and national citizenship. 

Curriculum and Instruction

The focus of the Davis Leadership Academy's curriculum and instruction is on developing advanced mathematics, English, science & technology and U.S. & World History for all of our students. The Academy integrates leadership skills, character building, service learning, ethics and conflict resolution into all aspects of the curriculum. The Academy incorporates the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), the Boston Citywide Learning Standards, as well as the components delineated in our school charter. Teachers meet and plan for interdisciplinary learning and real-world application of content knowledge and skills within their classrooms. 

Different Learning Modalities

The faculty and staff of Davis Leadership Academy understand that students come from varied backgrounds, have diverse learning styles and need different learning modalities to succeed in school. Teachers utilize a variety of instructional models including the Socratic method, cooperative learning techniques, interdisciplinary teaching and differentiated instruction. All courses are scheduled for 60-minute periods.

The Academy's professional development programs explore several strategies to meet the needs of all students whether they are visual, auditory or tactile/kinesthetic learners. Visual learners benefit from diagrams, illustrations, overhead transparencies, videos, flip charts and handouts while auditory learners prefer classroom-wide discussions, debates and cooperative learning strategies. Tactile/kinesthetic learners need hands-on opportunities, using manipulative and project-based learning.

Grade Level Assessments

The Academy assesses students throughout the year, using a variety of tests including the ANET standardized tests in math and English Language Arts, VARK to determine students' learning styles, and ALEKS, to improve students math skills. The teachers also administer benchmark MCAS tests during the year.

Academic Support Services

Davis Leadership Academy acknowledges and celebrates the value of all learners. The Academy educates all students in an inclusive, supportive classroom and provides differentiated instruction to students with differing learning styles.

The Academy provides instruction based on an inclusion model, where support staff work alongside general educators in classrooms. English and math are the primary focus areas of inclusion instruction, but the Academy requires all general educators to implement students' specific accommodations. The school also offers pull-out instruction per individual student needs, as specified on the Individual Education Plans (IEPs). The school also provides any related services necessary, including Speech/Language, Occupational Therapy, individual counseling and Limited English Proficiency (LEP) supports.

Tutoring Services

The Academy provides students with tutors to support their academic needs. It contracts with several outside organizations for these services:

Technology

Our four-year technology plan details our goals for using technology to enhance and facilitate teaching and learning.

Davis Leadership Academy Charter Public School closely analyzes student needs to determine curriculum, programs and professional development. The Academy has implemented best practices by adapting models from other schools and, as a result, the school has seen a jump in math and English performance.

Curriculum Map Template for Classroom Instruction 

At Davis Leadership Academy, teachers create curriculum maps based on the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Each semester, they organize these maps by content area and grade levels. Content-area coordinators provide feedback and review the curriculum maps.

The curriculum maps cover essential questions from the Frameworks, content strands and specific skills for instruction as well as assessments and resources for each week of each trimester. Teachers examine curriculum maps three times a year to address content gaps they have highlighted as weaknesses in their assessments.

Open-Response Question for Do Now Exercise 

Across the school, teachers at Davis Leadership Academy conduct a Do Now exercise similar to this sample every day during the first five-to-10 minutes of each class. Teachers develop the Do Now assignments from open-response questions in previous state assessments and execute them over a four-day period. During this time, teachers and students follow a specific rubric for this practice:

  • First day: Teachers present the open-response question to students who brainstorm on what the answer should be.
  • Second day: Students outline what they want to include in the response.
  • Third day: Students complete any necessary computation.
  • Fourth day: Students finalize their response.

Teachers follow this procedure in English language arts and math classes. To create consistent expectations throughout the school, Davis Leadership Academy uses a uniform rubric as a reminder of the scoring on open-response questions.

This rubric, posted throughout the school, familiarizes students with the standard for benchmark assessments. Note that grading is on a 0-4 scale and that there are at least two criteria for each score. The Academy copied this rubric from the Massachusetts Department of Education website and adapted it for school-wide use.

Ten-Minute Classroom Snapshot

As part of Smith Leadership Academy's teacher improvement and accountability process, members of the Academy's leadership team visit each classroom several times on a weekly basis to provide feedback to teachers on their lesson, instruction and interaction with students.

The observers complete a form covering 13 indicators including instructional rigor, teacher organization and preparation, classroom management and content understanding. They rate each indicator on a three-point scale, and they also can include a brief comment.
In addition to the annual formal evaluation, these snapshots allow for ongoing feedback to teachers and supervision support from administrators. It also shows where the Academy should target its professional development.

Differentiated Instruction - Tiering for Stations 

In a differentiated classroom, a teacher needs to use varied levels of tasks to ensure that students explore ideas and use skills at a level that build on what they already know and encourages growth. What strategies can be used for placing students at the stations, which will encourage practice and growth?

  • Mock MCAS Benchmarks
  • Pre-assessments
  • Post-assessments
  • Exit tickets and Learning Logs
  • Homework assignments

Technology – based assignments or assessments Tiered Assignments/Stations should be:

  • Different work based on performance
  • Equally active
  • Equally interesting and engaging
  • Fair in terms of work expectations and time needed
  • Requiring the use key concepts, skills, or ideas

*Always have an anchor station for all students, no matter their performance level. The anchor station is a place for enrichment work for all students. Students can make choices at this station based on interests and/or learning style.

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