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Capstone Institute at Howard University
Corporate Capability Statement: The Capstone Institute
Assessment and Evaluation
Family-School-Community Partnerships
Professional Development
Supplemental Student Services (Elementary Level)
Supplemental Student Services (Secondary Level)


Corporate Capability Statement: The Capstone Institute

The Capstone Institute (Capstone) is a research and development center within Howard University. It has a full-time staff which includes Howard University faculty members, graduate students who serve as research assistants, and a multi-disciplinary team of practitioners, researchers, administrators, support personnel and community service providers. A major goal of Howard's Capstone Institute is to research, develop, evaluate, refine and disseminate the Talent Quest school reform model and/or its components in schools and communities with large proportions of students from primarily low-income and/or ethnic minority backgrounds who underachieve academically, and who have school-based social and behavioral challenges.

Capstone is located on the West Campus of Howard University in Northwest Washington, D.C. Its facilities are spread between Holy Cross Hall and the adjacent Allen Mercer Daniel building. These settings house the Center's executive management and administrative functions. Situated here as well are offices for staff researchers, trainers, curriculum developers, field practitioners, student service specialists, and technical support personnel. Facilities also include a library, two computer labs, two large workspace areas, five small conference/ training rooms, and one large conference/lecture room.

Capstone's work provides for delivery of comprehensive school reform, to include (1) leadership development, (2) teacher professional development, (3) curriculum support in language arts, mathematics, classroom management, social/affective development, (4) in school and after school academic support programs, (5) student services support, (6) programs for parent involvement and community engagement, and (7) assessment and evaluation services. Such technical support is provided across kindergarten to the twelfth grade. Each program element can be offered separately or in some combination with other elements. Supporting materials are also provided. Currently, Capstone works in schools primarily in the greater Baltimore/Washington, DC metropolitan area. Yet it is capable of offering its programs in other parts of the United States and the Caribbean.

Capstone bases its academic programs on certain strategies that have shown particular promise in closing the achievement gap through a pattern that raises performance for minority and majority students alike. We refer to these strategies as integrity-based®. They are designed to educate the whole child (rather than just focus on test scores) and acknowledge, build on, or draw out the assets that children bring with them or create in school.

Capstone's overall program implementation plan is also research based and has five elements: (1) pick interventions that are backed up by the best available evidence, (2) discern the methods, resources, conditions and preparations required to achieve the intervention successfully, (3) provide enabling conditions and resources required for successful implementation, (4) assess rigorously the quality of the implementation as it occurs, making the necessary adjustments in due course, and (5) determine relevant outcomes and link them to implementation practices, the quality of enabling conditions; and then extract lessons that can guide subsequent interventions at the current or other sites.


Assessment and Evaluation

GOAL
To provide culturally and contextually appropriate assessment and evaluation of school improvement interventions, particularly those targeted at underserved and marginalized populations.

RATIONALE
Assessment and evaluation are essential to determine the success -- or failure -- of interventions designed to improve schools and raise student achievement. Yet often these efforts ignore, overlook, or minimize many cultural and contextual issues that affect these goals. Moreover, sometimes these efforts discount the views of teachers and other practitioners on the front lines of education about suitable remedies to problems at their respective sites. Evidence suggests that a more inclusive approach to assessment and evaluation (for example, involving stakeholders in the design of these activities and paying attention to cultural nuances) can yield more meaningful information.

CAPSTONE INSTITUTE APPROACH
Capstone Institute's approach to assessment and evaluation reflects two related beliefs. The first belief holds that school improvement should be driven by what teachers and education practitioners think will be suitable remedies to issues and challenges at their respective sites. The second belief holds that such remedies should be supported by data-driven evidence gathered to guide continuous improvement and to support claims that are made. Operating from an evidence-based framework, Capstone Institute s researchers seek to uncover what works to improve school improvement, why it works, for whom it works, and under what conditions and contexts it works. Capstone Institute's approach also recognizes that uncovering what does not work can be instructive as well.

Capstone Institute has extensive experience in bridging the gap between educational research, assessment, and evaluation studies and school-based practices. Drawing on this experience, Capstone Institute can provide a full menu of assessment and evaluation activities related to school improvement.


Family-School-Community Partnerships

GOAL
To promote and strengthen beneficial ties between the school, student caregivers and the community at large to foster cooperation and collaboration in the interest of improving student academic achievement.

RATIONALE
Research shows that many factors can have an impact on how well children perform academically. Classroom activity is just one factor. Capstone Institute asserts that resources and services provided by community-based stakeholders can greatly enhance student academic success, and even student social and emotional development. Moreover, increasing and sustaining parent (student caregiver) involvement in and advocacy for their children s academic progress have great merit.

CAPSTONE INSTITUTE APPROACH
Capstone Institute has a strong track record of facilitating and providing technical assistance around a range of research-based approaches to foster family school-community partnerships in the interest of improving students schooling outcomes. Key among these elements are:

• Parent Empowerment Workshops/Seminars: These activities are designed to enable parents or other student caregivers to be proactive advocates for their children's academic achievements. Parents gain skills or knowledge in such areas as homework support, student motivation, culturally relevant child and adolescent development, making academic connections between home and school, building on their own and family assets to enhance schooling outcomes for their children, and communicating effectively with school personnel. They will also be oriented to the Talent Quest model and Talent Development principles.

• The Family Resource Center: a designated physical space that serves as a headquarters for family and parent-oriented activities, including (but not limited to) the assembling and distribution of parent-centered written/media materials, adult academic/career empowerment workshops, social needs discussion groups, personal enhancement services, etc.;

• The Capstone Student Support Center: a designated physical space within the high school building that serves as a headquarters for student activities including (but not limited to) academic reinforcement, support for student transitions through school, college and career orientation, student service learning opportunities, social development and health education discussion groups, etc.;

• Teacher Awareness Seminars: These activities are designed to prepare teachers to enhance the relationships between school and home, as well as, to maximize educational resources available from the community.

• Community Accentuating Positive Services (CAPS): Through the mobilization of community partners, CAPS seeks to enhance student achievement, while promoting the school as a service providing institution. Moreover, CAP activities and services are intended to strengthen all three prongs of family-school-community partnerships. CAPS elements include: (a) providing opportunities for students to gain service learning hours; (b) assisting in developing student apprenticeships with local vendors; (c) tying student achievement goals to incentives that community partners provide to students, families and schools; (d) offering opportunities for local vendors to increase business while aiding area schools and students.


Professional Development

GOAL
To provide a comprehensive program of evidence-based professional development that builds participants' conceptual understanding of and practical skills at delivering sound instructional management, high quality learning structures and powerful integrity-based strategies1, with the aim of perpetuating improvement in teaching practices that will impact positively on student outcomes.

OBJECTIVES
To give teachers opportunities to evaluate and reflect on their teaching practices, individually and collectively, and to consider ways to modify these practices both to better meet the needs of students and to enhance their own professional growth and development.

CAPSTONE INSTITUTE APPROACH
These interventions are built on a Talent Quest Model of school improvement, which holds that all children can learn in demanding, high-expectations academic settings if provided with the proper network of support.

TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES
Both summer institutes and a series of academic-year workshops are available for teachers. These highly active, collaborative, and self-reflective sessions are conceived to impact positively on subsequent teacher practices. Institutes and workshops are customized to meet the needs of the school or school district.

ON-GOING SUPPORT
In its approach to professional development, Capstone Institute seeks to nurture within school professionals the need to hold high expectations for their students, while providing these school professionals with additional tools and knowledge that they can use to help students meet these expectations. Whether teachers initially participate in a summer institute, workshop series or both, Capstone Institute provides for the essential follow-up support. This ensuing support is conceived to be ongoing and entails coaching, peer collaborative exchanges, classroom observations tied to constructive feedback, classroom demonstrations and optimal reframing of planning time activities.

1 Integrity-based strategies are designed to acknowledge, build upon, or draw out existing or potential assets that stakeholders bring to the school setting. These strategies fall roughly into five interrelated, yet distinct, categories as follows: (a) promoting meaningful learning, (b) directly teaching thinking and learning strategies, (c) implementing an inclusive student learning community, (d) utilizing cultural resources of teachers, families, and community members, and (e) providing a supportive, yet demanding classroom learning environment.


Supplemental Student Services

Academic support through in-school and after-school tutorial programs (Elementary Level)

The Academic Support Program for Elementary Schools is a carefully crafted research based program designed to: (a) provide academic support and reinforcement skills for students in grades 3 through 6; (b) provide students with intensive instruction in math and language arts (reading); (c) motivate and inspire students to achieve at their highest levels; (d) provide ongoing, highly effective training for tutors; and (e) provide parents with guidance that will enable them to greatly influence the growth and development of their children. The program has many special features specific to the content area of focus as described below:

Special Features of the Academic Support Program's Math Instruction

•   Use of our own innovative, comprehensive research-based math curriculum called Step-By-Step Math;
•   Focus on the importance of understanding math concepts and mastering math skills by applying these concepts and skills to solve meaningful problems;
•   Provision of carefully sequenced units of study, enabling students to progress from unit to unit in small-groups and individually;
•   Focus on increasing students' competence and confidence in mathematical problem-solving techniques; and
•   Use of hands-on math manipulatives and games to make learning fun and keep students on task longer.

Special Features of the Academic Support Program's English and Language Arts Instruction

•   Extensive use of our own research-based reading framework called Pathways-To-Reading, that is designed to be especially effective with urban learners.
•   Use of high interest, grade and skill appropriate books connected to lessons that lead students to make personal connections to what they read;
•   Use of highly engaging activities and learning materials that develop and improve students' vocabulary, comprehension, writing, and critical thinking skills, and establish a greater appreciation for the art of independent reading.

The Academic Support Program will provide an optimal learning environment for children, as shown by: small-group interventions; individual attention; "real world" applications; research-based, proven methods of instruction; and alignment with district and national learning standards.


Supplemental Student Services

Academic support through in-school and after-school tutorial programs (Secondary Level)

The Academic Support Program for High Schools is a carefully crafted research based program designed to: (a) provide academic support and reinforcement skills for students in grades 9 through 12; (b) provide students with intensive instruction in math and language arts (reading); (c) provide test taking strategies for a variety of situations; (d) provide ongoing, highly effective training for tutors; and (e) provide students with career and postsecondary education awareness designed to motivate and inspire them to achieve at their highest levels. The program has many special features specific to the content area of focus as described below:

Special Features of the Academic Support Program's Math Instruction

•   Reinforcement and mastery of concepts and problem solving in arithmetic, algebra and geometry;
•   Use of our own innovative, comprehensive research-based math curriculum called Step-By-Step Math;
•   Provision of carefully sequenced units of study, enabling students to progress from unit to unit in small-groups and individually; and
•   Appropriate use of educational technology such as calculators, mathematical and statistical software

Special Features of the Academic Support Program's English and Language Arts Instruction

•   Extensive use of our own research-based reading framework called Pathways-To-Reading that is designed to be especially effective with urban learners;
•   Development of reading comprehension skills through the use of culturally relevant and socially important reading selections;
•   Development of a sophisticated vocabulary by emphasizing word structure and vocabulary in-context; and
•   Integration of writing into all subject areas

The Academic Support Program will provide an optimal learning environment for children, as shown by: small-group interventions; individual attention; "real world" applications; research-based proven methods of instruction; and alignment with district and national learning standards.
 

Capstone Institute at Howard University
Capstone Institute at Howard University
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