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Programs that Work

Talent Development Secondary


Program Info
Program Overview
Program Participants
Evaluation Methods
Key Evaluation Findings
Probable Implementers
Funding
Implementation Detail
Issues to Consider
Example Sites
Contact Information
Available Resources
Bibliography
Last Reviewed

 

Program Info

Outcome Areas
Children Succeeding in School

Indicators
Students performing at grade level or meeting state curriculum standards

Topic Areas

     Age of Child
       Adolescence (13-18)
     Type of Setting
       Middle School
       High School
     Type of Service
       Instructional Support
       Youth Development
     Type of Outcome Addressed
       Cognitive Development / School Performance

Evidence Level  (What does this mean?)
Promising

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Program Overview

The Talent Development Secondary model seeks to enhance student achievement by raising teacher expectations and youth's own expectations for themselves. The goal of the model is to change the school climate by reorganizing the school into smaller learning communities. In these learning communities, students share a common set of peers and teachers across their four years of high school, and course curricula are designed around a common, career-related theme. Teachers are expected to share common planning time and are offered professional development opportunities. Talent Development Secondary makes assistance available to students who need extra help through after-hours "twilight school" and replacement of elective courses with supplemental math and reading courses. For high schools, the Talent Development Secondary model also includes a "Ninth Grade Success Academy" with a freshman seminar that incorporates discussions on peer relations, goal setting and study skills, two additional courses intended to prepare students for high school, and a double-dose of math and English courses.

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Program Participants

Talent Development Secondary offers a model for middle schools and high schools.

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Evaluation Methods

Four studies of Talent Development Secondary schools have met PPN criteria for evidence of a promising program.

Balfanz, Legters, and Jordan (2004) studied the impacts of the Talent Development Secondary 9th grade instructional program on student math and reading test performance. The study compared three Talent Development Secondary intervention high schools with three comparison schools. The researchers chose comparison schools that were statistically equivalent on demographic and prior achievement variables. All schools were located in Baltimore. The 9th grade instructional program is part of the Talent Development Secondary Ninth Grade Success Academy and includes a double-dose of math and English courses for students for the entire 9th grade year, three courses aimed at helping students overcome poor preparation for high school (Strategic Reading, Transition to Advanced Mathematics, and Freshman Seminar), and 25 to 30 hours of course-specific professional development for teachers. Twenty classes across the three schools participated in the Strategic Reading course, and 16 classes participated in the Transition to Advanced Mathematics course. The comparison schools also provided their 9th grade students with a double-dose of math and English for the entire school year and used a small learning community format for their 9th grade class. The effective contrast, then, between Talent Development Secondary and comparison schools was the continuation of small learning format into grades 10-12, the three courses intended to prepare 9th graders for high school, and Talent Development Secondary-specific professional development for teachers. Students in the study were tested on math and reading achievement, using the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS)-5 Terra Nova achievement test in February and May of the school year when students were in 9th grade. These scores were compared against the students' performance on the same test administered in 8th grade. One intervention school was dropped from the math score analysis because too few teachers participated in the program.

Kemple and Herlihy (2004) studied the impacts of the Talent Development Secondary model over the first three years of implementation at five high schools in a large urban school district. The study looked at impacts on student attendance, student course credits earned, and student promotion from 9th to 10th grade and measured the change in these outcome variables between the historical averages three years before the Talent Development Secondary model was introduced and the average outcome in the three years following the model's introduction. These changes were compared with changes in seven matched comparison schools over the same time period. Outcomes were measured in the spring of students' 9th grade year. The comparison students were statistically equivalent to the intervention schools in ethnicity and the study outcome variables prior to the start of the intervention. On average, students in the Talent Development Secondary intervention schools were 82 percent black and 16.8 percent Latino, with a 67 percent attendance rate and 52.3 percent promotion to 9th grade. The average number of students in 9th grade at the study schools was 667.

Kemple et al. (2005) used the same methods as the above study to examine the impact of the Talent Development Secondary model among students attending one of five high schools in Philadelphia, using six same-district comparison schools. Students in the Talent Development Secondary schools and the matched comparison schools were statistically equivalent in ethnicity, SAT-9 test scores, attendance rates, credits earned in the prior year, and rates of promotion to 10th grade. As in the above study, for students in the intervention and matched schools, the researchers compared the difference in three-year pre-intervention average just before students began the intervention and the three-year average just after they started the intervention for the outcomes of attendance, course credits, and rates of promotion to 10th grades. Outcomes are reported for first-time 9th grade students and follow students through their first three years in high school. Thus, the three-year average is calculated for three cohorts of students, and the study period allowed each cohort to attend three years of high school.

Herlihy and Kemple (2004) examined the impact of the Talent Development Secondary model in 11 middle schools in a northeastern urban school district. The middle school model includes the smaller learning community approach with climate change and teacher support elements, but does not include the Talent Development Secondary Ninth Grade Success Academy or twilight school. This analysis compared the average of outcomes of the three years just before intervention began to outcomes at the first, second, and third years following the start of the intervention. Herlihy and Kemple report outcome for six of the intervention schools, because the other five intervention schools had not been implementing Talent Development Secondary long enough to calculate the three-year post period average. The difference between the pre- and post-scores at the intervention schools are compared with the difference in 18 matched comparison schools. Students in the intervention schools were 81.5 percent black, 11.2 percent Latino, and 4.4 percent white, with an 84.3 percent attendance rate and with 97.5 percent promoted to 9th grade. Matched schools were similar to intervention schools in ethnicity and test achievement scores prior to the intervention. Students were compared on test scores, attendance, and promotion to 9th grade.

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Key Evaluation Findings

Balfanz, Legters, and Jordan (2004) found that 9th grade students who attended Talent Development Secondary intervention schools showed significantly greater improvement in their math (18 percent of one standard deviation higher) and reading test scores (28 percent of one standard deviation higher) than the comparison students.

Kemple and Herlihy (2004) found that students who attended schools that implemented the Talent Development Secondary model showed significant improvement, compared with matched students, in:

  • Attendance: Intervention students' attendance increased by 2.8 percent, while matched comparison students' attendance rate increased by 0.2 percent.

  • Chronic absenteeism: There was a significant reduction (-5.2 percent) in the percent of intervention students who had an attendance rate of 80 percent or lower, compared with the matched students (-1.7 percent).

  • Regular attendance: There was a significant increase (5.4 percent) in the percent of intervention students who had an attendance rate of 90 percent or higher, compared with the matched students (0.2 percent).

  • Course credits in English, Algebra and math: Students in the intervention group showed a significant increase in English, Algebra, and math course credits earned, compared with the matched students.

  • Earning four or more credits: There was a significant increase (7.9 percent) in the percentage of intervention students who earned four credits or more in one academic year, compared with the matched students (3 percent).

  • Core academic credits: There was a significant increase (12.8 percent) in the percentage of intervention students who passed a core academic curriculum, compared with the matched students (4.2 percent).

Kemple et al. (2005) found that, after students' first year in high school, those who attended schools that implemented the Talent Development Secondary model showed significant improvement relative to matched students in:
  • Attendance: Students in the intervention group had an average increase in attendance rate 5.1 percentage points above that of matched school students.

  • Chronic absenteeism (attendance rate of 80 percent or lower): Students in the intervention group decreased chronic absenteeism by 11 percentage points more than matched school students.

  • Regular attendance (attendance rate of 90 percent or higher): Students in the intervention group increased regular attendance by 7.6 percentage points more than matched school students.

  • Total course credits earned: Students in the intervention increased their average total number of course credits earned by 0.67 more credits than matched school students.

  • Earning 5 or more credits: There was a significantly greater increase in the percentage of students at intervention schools who earned at least 5 academic credits (difference of 7 percent over matched school students).

  • Core academic credits: There was a significantly greater increase in the percentage of students at intervention schools who passed a core academic curriculum (difference of 8.2 percent over matched school students).

  • Course credits in English: There was a significantly greater increase in the percentage of students at intervention schools who earned at least one credit in English (difference of 8.6 percent over matched school students).

  • Course credits in math: There was a significantly greater increase in the percent of students at intervention schools who earned at least one credit in math (difference of 11.6 percent over matched school students).

  • Course credits in Algebra: There was a significantly greater increase in the percentage of students at intervention schools who earned at least one credit in Algebra (difference of 24.5 percent over matched school students).

Kemple et al. (2005) also found that after students' second year in high school, those who attended schools that implemented the Talent Development Secondary model showed significant improvement relative to matched students in:
  • 10th grade enrollment: There was a significantly greater increase in students in the intervention schools who were enrolled in 10th grade (difference of 8 percent over matched school students).

  • 9th grade enrollment: There was a significantly greater reduction in students in the intervention schools who were still enrolled in 9th grade their second high school year (difference of 8.7 percent from matched school students).

  • Total course credits earned: Students in the intervention increased their average total number of course credits earned by 0.85 credits more than matched school students.

  • Course credits in English: There was a significantly greater increase in the percentage of students at intervention schools who earned at least two credits in English (difference of 13.7 percent over matched school students).

After the students' third year in high school, Kemple et al. (2005) found that students who attended schools that implemented the Talent Development Secondary model showed significant improvement relative to matched students in:
  • Course credits in English: There was a significantly greater increase in the percentage of students at intervention schools who earned at least two credits in English (difference of 10.5 percent over matched school students).

Herlihy and Kemple (2004) found that middle school students who attended Talent Development Secondary schools showed significant improvement in the third year after the intervention began compared with matched students in:
  • Promotion to 9th grade: Talent Development Secondary schools had significantly greater increase in students who were promoted to 9th grade than did matched schools.

  • Regular attendance: There was a significant increase in the percentage of intervention students who had an attendance rate of 90 percent or higher, compared with matched students.

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Probable Implementers

Middle and high school administration across the United States wishing to reform or reorganize their schools to improve school climate and student performance.

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Funding

Interested schools may contact a Talent Development Secondary regional manager to learn about costs associated with working with the Talent Development Secondary team and to set up the model in their school.

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Implementation Detail

Program Design

The Talent Development Secondary model prescribes comprehensive reform and school-wide reorganization to improve student performance in school. Central to the model are small learning communities in which students in a school are grouped together and take classes together with a set of teachers. Teachers in each small learning community share a common planning period and receive professional development. The Talent Development Secondary model also emphasizes extra assistance to help students catch up to their expected grade level performance.

Staffing

Talent Development Secondary staff work together with school staff to reform the school and offer ongoing implementation assistance.

Curriculum

The high school Talent Development Secondary model includes a Ninth Grade Success Academy, which is a small learning community comprising only 9th grade students that includes a freshman seminar and catch-up courses in math and English. Beyond 9th grade, schools are organized into small learning communities centered on a common career theme. Teachers in small learning communities receive professional development and share a common planning period, allowing for interdisciplinary teacher teams. The model emphasizes growth in literacy and math skills.

The middle school Talent Development Secondary model also uses a small learning community design, with teachers across disciplines sharing a common planning period. The model emphasizes growth in math, literacy, science, and history skills and offers opportunities for middle school youth to explore career options.

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Issues to Consider

The above studies found evidence that the Talent Development Secondary model impacts student behavior (attendance) and performance (credits earned, test scores, and promotion rates). One issue to note is that these studies measure multiple outcomes, which increases the possibility that a positive outcome is found by chance. Additionally, these studies relied on matched schools for comparison, which could potentially bias the positive findings, if matched school students are systematically different in unknown ways that affect the study outcomes. The studies found no differences between intervention students and matched students on variables researchers were able to observe, but differences might exist in student characteristics or school characteristics, such as teacher motivation or school climate, that researchers did not measure or were not able to observe. Some of the studies attempted to strengthen the validity of their findings by using the averages across three years of students to correct for year-to-year variation in student outcomes. However, Herlihy and Kemple (2004) compared the three-year "pre-intervention" average to single-year intervention cohorts; this study found only two significant results in one cohort year out of multiple outcomes tested across multiple years.

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Example Sites

The Talent Development Secondary model has been implemented in high schools and middle schools in 15 states.

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Contact Information

Maxine Wood
Chief Operating Officer
Talent Development Secondary
Phone: 410-516-6423
Email: mwood@csos.jhu.edu

Kathy Nelson
Director of Implementation
Talent Development Secondary Middle Grades
Phone: 410-516-6431
Email: knelson@csos.jhu.edu

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Available Resources

Information about Talent Development Secondary can be found on its website: http://www.talentdevelopmentsecondary.com. The website includes an overview of the high school and middle school programs, as well as information for contacting a regional manager to learn more about partnering with Talent Development Secondary.

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Bibliography

Balfanz, Robert, Nettie Legters, and Will Jordan, "Catching Up: Effect of Talent Development Ninth Grade Instructional Interventions in Reading and Mathematics in High-Poverty Schools,"  NASSP Bulletin,  Vol. 88, No. 641, 2004. 

Herlihy, Corrine M., and James J. Kemple,  The Talent Development Middle School Model: Context, Components, and Initial Impacts on Students' Performance and Attendance,  New York: MDRC, December 2004. 

Kemple, James J., and Corinne M. Herlihy,  The Talent Development High School Model: Context, Components, and Initial Impacts on Ninth-Grade Students' Engagement and Performance,  New York: MDRC, June 2004. 

Kemple, James J., Corinne M. Herlihy, and Thomas J. Smith,  Making Progress Toward Graduation: Evidence from the Talent Development High School Model,  New York: MDRC, May 2005. 

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Last Reviewed

June 2012

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