teacherkidsThe Value Schools instructional model has two proven elements: Values-Based Education and Accountability for Results. The strategy does not lie in some "secret" curriculum or method. What holds each school together and gives energy to the learning experience is a common "world-view." By emphasizing our five core values, schools develop a culture that forms student character and drives student achievement.

Since the 1990s, research has shown that low-income and underserved students thrive in schools that share key characteristics with academically successful parochial schools serving the same demographic. Those characteristics include a focused curriculum, an emphasis on academics, and direct management by the principal. The most important factor, though, is that parents and faculty share a set of core beliefs and values.

One Size Does Not Fit All

The Value Schools model is not a "one-size-fits-all" approach. What directs the instructional process is student needs, not the dictates of a particular curriculum or methodology. Good teachers always analyze student needs regardless of who selects the methods and materials. The Value Schools model focuses the teachers’ attention first on the needs of the student, and gives 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.

Value Schools 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.

Factors for Success

The success of Value Schools depends on the “who” (our educators), the “what” (our curricular focus), and the “how” (our methods and assessments) of its educational model. Experience shows six essential elements to success:

Select the right educators.

The educators hired for Downtown Value School must demonstrate both proficiency and commitment. They must be well trained, confident and capable of identifying the strengths and needs of each student. They must also be flexible and creative in choosing or developing appropriate techniques to reinforce those strengths and meet those needs, while staying faithful to the prescribed standards. Of utmost importance, they must believe in and support the five core values that undergird the entire enterprise.

Plan and annually revise the educational program as a team.

The principal and teachers must work as a team to choose a coordinated instructional program. The annual school-wide cycle has three steps: (1) review curriculum standards; (2) analyze available assessment results; and (3) decide what instructional activities will take place. Following the team planning, individual teachers make their own lesson plans. These steps are repeated in a continuous cycle, informed by assessments.

Focus the curriculum on students as individuals.

A standards-based curriculum focuses on what students know, not what teachers teach. Teaching may be a group activity; learning is done person-by-person. Student-focused learning requires teachers to provide learning activities and tasks suited to individual needs. Some learning activities may occur individually, some in small groups and some in large groups.

Use research–based instructional materials.

Downtown Value School provides teachers with research-based core instructional materials to support the learning experience. The teachers are expected to use the materials when and where they are helpful to the students. When students require additional materials to master content and skills, the teachers are expected to research and request materials that will support student learning.

Supervise teachers.

School success relies on teacher professionalism. In the Value Schools model, teacher professionalism is a baseline expectation, but must be ensured. A Value Schools principal actively supervises the Charter School’s teachers, focusing their attention on content standards and assessment results but also coaching them on choosing and using appropriate instructional methods.

Foster the growth of the educators.

Like our students, Value Schools’ teachers can develop to their fullest potential. Value Schools is committed to providing the educators at Downtown Value School opportunities for continued professional development. Ten of the 210 work days for teachers are set aside for professional development for teachers and other school personnel including administrators. Additionally, one afternoon per week is set aside for professional development and collaboration.

Standards-based curriculum

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. Downtown Value School uses California’s Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for the core subject areas of Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. When CCSS are not available for a given subject, Downtown Value School uses the existing standards adopted by the State Board of Education.

Although they are not core subjects, Downtown Value School also offers instruction in Physical Education and Art for all grade levels.

English Language Development

Do you have questions about the English Language Development (ELD) Standards? The California Department of Education (CDE) has published resources for understanding the ELD Standards and their alignment to English Language Arts Standards. Read more about it out here.

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Downtown Value School Downtown Value School 
950 West Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Phone: (213) 748-8868
Fax: (213) 742-6684
Everest Value School Everest Value School
668 South Catalina St.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Phone: (213) 487-7736
Fax: (213) 487-7745
Central City Value High School Central City Value High School
221 North Westmoreland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Phone: (213) 471-4686
Fax: (213) 385-5127
University Prep Value High School University Prep Value High School
1929 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Phone: (213) 382-1223