Exploring West Virginia Academy's Primary School
Updated: Jun 18, 2020
West Virginia Academy will be a Core Knowledge (CK) school that teaches through the Direct Instruction Method (DI) in core topics. In order to fulfill our Primary School Mission, all of our primary students will participate in the West Virginia Academy Ambassadors program, giving them opportunities and experiences to love and appreciate the state and country we live in.
What is a Core Knowledge School?
West Virginia Academy Primary School (K-5) follows the Core Knowledge Sequence created by the Core Knowledge Foundation. Core Knowledge refers to the knowledge that is commonly shared between members of a society. Students will become better readers and more effective members of society when they understand the knowledge of other literate writers and speakers in our society.
The Core Knowledge curriculum includes the topics: Math, Language Arts, Science, Music, Visual Arts, and Social Studies. This curriculum strives to provide a broad, solid foundation of knowledge that is developed as a student progresses through school. The curriculum not only builds on the previous year, it connects across subjects making it more coherent and effective.
In trial studies, schools that use the Core Knowledge curriculum have been shown to “improve literacy and close the achievement gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students.” (See The Impact of Core Knowledge Curriculum on Reading Achievement in New York City Primary Public Schools Vafiadi, Polixeni.ProQuest LLC, 2010)
What is the Direct Instruction Method (DI)?
The Core Knowledge Curriculum provides a specific sequence of content and skills that students master. The curriculum clearly identifies what each student in each grade should learn. This curriculum will be delivered using the Direct Instruction (DI) methodology (Englemann, 1969). The DI method is built on the belief that all students can learn when the instruction is effectively designed and delivered. Teachers present material in an explicit and systematic way, where mastery of prior knowledge is essential in understanding new concepts or skills.
DI offers an effective strategy that has been found to be statistically significant across geographic settings (American Institutes for Research, 1999). The methodology enhances verbal skills and participation among students and is also highly effective for students of all abilities including special education students (Kinder, D., Kubina, R., Marchand-Martella, N. E. (2005). Special education and Direct Instruction: An effective combination. Journal of Direct Instruction, 5, 1–36.).
The purpose of DI is to teach subject matter efficiently so that all students learn the material as efficiently and effectively as possible. Producing these outcomes requires the design, organization, and delivery of instruction to be laid out for the instructors. “It is clear that students make sense of and interpret the information that they are given—but their learning is enhanced only when the information presented is explicit, logically organized, and clearly sequenced. To do anything less shirks the responsibility of effective instruction.” (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/epub/10.3102/0034654317751919)
West Virginia Academy’s will be deploying the Core Knowledge Curriculum using the DI methodology with particular emphasis in Reading, Math, Spelling, and Language Arts. Additionally, the DI method will be more pronounced in the younger grades. As students progress to higher grade levels, they will be phasing out of the DI method and transitioning to more logical and analytical approaches that meet their needs after achieving mastery of foundational topics.