Downtown Value School delivers educational services that result in students becoming successful in school by utilizing two proven elements: Values-Based Education and Accountability for Results. The uniqueness does not lie in some "secret" curriculum or method. What holds the school together and gives energy to the learning experience is a common "world-view." By emphasizing its five core values Downtown Value School believes and has seen that it purposefully develops a school culture that forms student character and drives student achievement.
In some educational circles today concern is expressed about measuring the success of schools in terms of student achievement. Value Schools believes that a school is successful only if students are learning and that learning is measurable by objective test instruments. For years private and parochial schools have been held accountable for results by tuition-paying parents. Schools that did not deliver what the parents wanted could not and did not survive. Although the business market model is not a complete explanation for what can work in education, that model calls educators to look to the products of schooling. That product is student learning.
Value Schools proposes that student learning is a result of a continual cycle of three critical elements:
A standards-based curriculum is one which provides for each grade level the specific content to be known and understood, and the specific skills to be acquired, in each essential subject area. The California State Board of Education and State Superintendent of Instruction have adopted standards-based curricula for the core subject areas of Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. Downtown Value School currently uses these California standards as the center of its academic programming.
Downtown Value School also offers instruction in physical education and art.
As California moves to adopt the California Common Core standards, Downtown Value School will adopt these standards as well.
The Value Schools model at Downtown Value School and future K-8 Value Schools is not a "one-size-fits-all" approach. What directs the instructional process is student needs, not the dictates of a particular curriculum methodology. It is true that good teachers always analyze student needs regardless of who selects the methods and materials. The Value Schools model focuses the teacher's attention first on the needs of the student, and then it gives the responsibility for choosing the most effective means to the teacher in collaboration with the principal and other on site learning professionals. If the methods and materials are not successful, there is no blame assigned to the curriculum planners for poor decisions; responsibility is immediate and local.
Downtown Value School is not organized around a particular pedagogical style; rather it is organized around the twin centers of the five core values and the student needs. Educators know a variety of sound pedagogical methods. Using their professional judgment, they determine the learning strengths and needs of each student and the most efficient way for each student to acquire the knowledge or skill set by the curriculum.
The determination of student needs is a result of two elements: the content standards and an assessment of student performance. The first task of the teacher is to recognize what each student knows of the appropriate content and skill standards. This is accomplished through a variety of formal and informal assessments.