Our Academic Program
All ICEF Public Schools pursue the same core mission: to prepare students to attend and compete at the top colleges and universities in the nation. Our culture of high expectations focuses all students and teachers on maximizing academic achievement.
"If you teach students at the bottom 25% as though they are the bottom, they will always stay at the bottom."
The ICEF Education Model is designed to improve the education of disadvantaged and undeserved students by applying the same "acceleration" techniques used with gifted and talented students. Our approach to education incorporates the philosophy of Dr. Henry M. Levins Accelerated Schools Model developed at Stanford University in 1986.
The ICEF Education Model contains Five Essential Elements:
Vision and belief play a fundamental role in breaking the paradigm of underachievement for students of color. To close the achievement gap, every adult in an organization that serves students must believe that each child has the ability to succeed. ICEFs goal is not merely to get students into a four-year college. The goal is not even to get students in the top 100 colleges and universities in the nation. The goal is that each child who graduates from an ICEF school will gain admittance to and then be an A or B student at the top colleges and universities in the nation. The zealousness to achieve this mission is shared by a common vision of every teacher, student, staff member, parent, administrator and the community at large.
- STUDY SKILLS AND SUSTAINED SILENT READING
College success is an achievable goal for all students. One of the most important skills we develop in our students is the ability to be a self-directed learner. Study Hall is a key indicator. If a student is not able to effectively use the 60 minutes within an hour of Study Hall at school then he or she is not likely able to use their study time wisely at home. The ICEF Education Model not only helps students build the habit of studying but also teaches students specific study techniques. Teachers at an ICEF school teach students how to take notes in a lecture, how to break down concepts and effectively manage time when studying for a test, and how to read text to understand both overarching themes as well as subtle nuances.
Nurturing and inspiring in students a love of great literature or knowledge, is the goal of our Sustained Silent Reading Program, called Drop Everything And Read (DEAR). Thirty minutes daily of sustained silent reading is the strongest correlation to success on the verbal section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (The SAT). In addition, the more high-quality works a student reads, the better their vocabulary for writing.
- COLLEGE LEVEL ANALYTICAL WRITING ACROSS THE CURRICULUM
Students who attend an ICEF school learn a specific, structured way to formulate an argument when writing that is based on the Archer-Holmes Toulmin Writing Model. The structure is taught in English Language Arts classes but is utilized across the curriculum and applied in all core classes. The foundations of the model are meant to be taught in high school but are introduced in middle school. The ultimate goal of the writing program is to prepare all students to complete an argumentative position paper, the assignment most common in college.
- COLLEGE STYLE DISCOURSE
Fundamental to the ICEF Education Model is developing in our students the competencies and habit of Socratic dialogue. Students learn the language necessary to participate in a scholarly discussion. ICEF students know how to intelligently respond to someone who they disagree with, how to add value to someone elses statement without redundancy, how to ask clarifying and probing questions and how to listen intelligently. ICEF students also practice the tools needed to participate in a discussion. This involves students relating evidence gained from the text, drawing on past experiences, correlating previous readings in the class with the current topic of discussion and staying focused on the topic as opposed to making tangential statements.
- BACKWARD MAPPING
Backward Mapping is a process whereby ICEF teachers work collaboratively to plan a unit around a central theme focused on a standard or group of standards. Once teachers fully understand the scope of the standard they then write a student assessment and culminating activity. When done this way, the assessment and culminating activity allow students to prove mastery of the standards at all levels of Blooms taxonomy.
Once the assessment and culminating activities are designed ICEF teachers plan a "Backwards Map" of all the individual lessons. Each lesson leads a student towards mastery on assessment items and/or the culminating project, thereby leading to mastery of the standard.
Fundamental to implementing the Five Essential Elements of the ICEF Education Model are the three R's: Rigor, Relevance, and Relationship. They are used to create the culture of the school and underlie all instructional practices.
ICEF schools provide a thoroughly challenging academic process which develops higher level thinking skills and engages students in the habits of inquiry by inspiring students to go beyond expected goals, preparing students to compete on a global level, designing instruction to discover all students gifts and talents, accelerating all students learning by teaching to the top quartile and by developing academic discipline.
Relevance requires reaching out to students and tying real world experiences with the academic program. Tying in relevance includes activating prior knowledge when introducing new concepts in science and math or themes in history and literature. Relevance also includes creating culminating activities that force students to apply, analyze, and evaluate academic knowledge to real world situations or presenting problems to students that show them how what they are learning in class relates directly to something in the real world.
Relationship is the foundation upon which the entire ICEF Education Model is built. Establishing a healthy and nurturing adult to student relationship is one of the key triggers that give our teachers the credibility to push the students so hard and demand so much quality in their work. This works on three levels with the individual student, the class as a whole, and the students family and community.