Burke Basic School has a back-to-basics curricular and character values focus. We are highly structured in our instructional presentation as well as classroom and school behavior expectations. It is our basic expectation that all students will reach mastery in reading fluency and comprehension, written mechanics and expression, and math computation and reasoning. Beyond this basic expectation is the higher expectation that all students will develop a love for learning and passion for knowledge. To meet these academic expectations, Burke Basic School does the following:
Initial and ongoing assessment of basic skills
- Each student is given as assessment upon enrolling at Burke Basic School as well as at the beginning and end of each year. The assessment includes :
- Math computation
- Decoding words
- Reading fluency
- Reading comprehension
- Written expression
These assessments enable the school to place the student in the classroom that will best serve his or her needs. It also allows the school to immediately plan for intensive tutoring if needed.
- Students are categorized into the following levels according to their achievement in the assessments:
- Frustration Zone – These students have demonstrated significant difficulties in one or more of the basic academic skills.
- Instructional Zone – These students are performing as expected.
- Mastery – These students are performing well beyond their peers.
Intensive Tutoring and Progress Monitoring
- Students who perform in the frustration zone in any of the basic academic skill areas are given intensive, small-group tutoring to include:
- Phonemic awareness learning with a paraprofessional teacher
- Reading phonics with a paraprofessional teacher
- Reading fluency and comprehension in the computer lab with a paraprofessional teacher using the computer program Read Naturally.
- Math reasoning with a paraprofessional teacher
- Math fact fluency with a paraprofessional teacher
- Spelling and writing mechanics with a paraprofessional teacher.
- All students receiving intensive tutoring by paraprofessional teachers are monitored weekly on their basic academic progress.
Burke Basic School has embraced technology for learning. We have recently upgraded our computer lab with 40 new computers and the most up-to-date educational software. Parents are kept informed of student progress through our new web-based software Galileo.
Over the course of the last 100 years, the educational system in the United States has gradually declined in academic rigor and expectations. Burke Basic School has adopted the same reading and math materials used in the 1800s and early 1900s. These materials are much more rigorous, filled with patriotic messages, and lessons of moral values and good character.
As a result of the emphasis on basic academic skills in phonics, fluency, and comprehension the students leaving Kindergartners at Burke Basic School read, on average, 30 words per minute. Reading fluency is increased through the sixth grade where our students leave reading, on average, 170 words per minute. The average adult reads 120 words per minute!
These materials include:
McGuffey’s Readers, 1836
The original 1836 version of the fabled reading instruction books which for three-quarters of a century were used by four-fifths of all American school children. Some 120 million sets were sold. No other books ever had so much influence over so many children over such a long period.
Language Arts ~ Word Study Program
The term word study refers to the process of learning everything about words, including their spelling, meaning, pronunciation, historical origin, and relationship with other words. It is a mistake and a disservice to children to solely focus on the spelling of the word and neglect the multitude of meanings represented by the combination of letters. It is critical to carefully take the child through the stages of learning to write and read. The Arizona State Standards identify six stages within the reading process.
Progress in Mathematics has been published for more than 60 years by William H. Sadlier, Inc. The original developers of the program were a group of Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate heart of Mary. The guiding principles can be articulated using the letters in the program’s name and are explained in detail in the following table:
Explicit and Systematic Instruction
Explicit and systematic instruction refers to the direct teaching of academic concepts and skills in a clearly defined sequence designed to grow over the course of the year and from grade to grade. Direct instruction of a logical sequence of concepts and skills extends children’s knowledge systematically in math, reading, and writing. Nothing is left out or left to chance or random discovery.
Burke Basic School utilizes the following instructional approaches:
Direct Instruction: The teacher helps children become aware of what they are to learn and how they are to use their knowledge.
Modeling: The teacher demonstrates or models the thinking process, using a think-aloud technique.
Guided Practice: The teacher guides the children and assists them as they learn how and when to apply their new knowledge.
Cooperative Group Learning: The teacher guides the children in small cooperative groups to apply social learning skills in academic problem solving.
Application: The teacher helps children apply their new knowledge in extended and enriched activities.