RBA works with top private school, uses Direct Instruction method to make private-quality education public
Leland—“The Roger Bacon Academy program is one of few that truly understands what education is—and one of even fewer who know how to do it well,” said Martin Cothran, Director of the Classical Latin School Association and author of five classical textbooks.
Cothran’s review comes after two days of observations at Charter Day School in Leland and Douglass Academy in Wilmington, two public charter schools using the classical education program of The Roger Bacon Academy, Inc. (RBA). Cothran’s visit is the most recent in a series of visits between curriculum specialists from RBA and staff from the prestigious Highlands Latin School, which last year saw 44 percent of its graduating class named National Merit Scholars—the odds of which are 1 in 300 million.
RBA is an educational management company that provides classical curriculum to four free and public charter schools in southeastern NC. These schools employ similar rigorous English, Latin, and History curricula to that used at Highlands Latin School.
How is it possible for a public school to implement a program with private-school rigor? To close achievement gaps that can be created by a public school’s higher volume of students and diverse student populations, RBA’s program for its client public charter schools has embedded within the curricula heavy usage of the field-proven Direct Instruction teaching method
A credit to these classical programs— in addition to Highlands’ astronomical percentage of National Merit Scholars and Ivy League alumni— the two mature schools managed by RBA are consistently each the highest scoring schools in their respective districts by margins of nearly 20 percentage points.
Of note, Highlands Latin School is a private school serving approximately 600 students in grades K-12. The aforementioned top-scoring RBA schools, Charter Day School and Columbus Charter School, are tuition-free, open enrollment public charter schools serving approximately 900 students each in grades K-8.
In October, RBA Curriculum Author and Latin Coordinator, Jessica Lopez, traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to observe a week of instruction and meet with staff at Highlands Latin School. The objective was to share best practices and learn ways to enhance RBA’s classical education program. Lopez reported on her return that, “We share the same high expectations for all of our students. We share the same rigorous curriculum in History, Latin and English. While, as a public school, we serve a larger and more diverse student population, we are able to provide a similarly rigorous curriculum by combining it with the Direct Instruction teaching method. Direct Instruction provides a highly structured classroom environment and sees that our students are engaged in learning 100% of the time.”
As Latin Coordinator for RBA’s client schools, Lopez described the benefits of Latin classes for all students. “Our Latin curriculum begins in fourth grade and provides students at our client schools with an increase in vocabulary, a better understanding of English grammar and the everlasting gift of logic to advance their high-order thinking skills,” she explained.
In early November, staff from Highlands Latin School traveled to Charter Day School to observe RBA’s classical program at work. In particular, they observed the classical curriculum’s implementation in tuition-free public charter schools—which means serving substantially larger and more diverse student bodies, all while charging no tuition and receiving only limited public funding.
As a result, most often, classical education is only practicable in a private school setting due to the rigor of the program. Also, traditional public schools must use a curriculum determined by the state, which in North Carolina is Common Core. Public charter schools, however, have the freedom to select their own curricula in exchange for receiving limited public funding.
RBA Founder, Baker Mitchell, states, “Highlands Latin School is the pinnacle of what seemingly-impossible achievements are unlocked by classical education. Before graduating high school, the students at their private school are fluent in both Latin and Greek, as well as trained in the disciplines of logic and philosophy. Highlands’ graduates frequently achieve our country’s highest academic designations and university privileges. At RBA, we have brought access to similar K-8 classical education to the public, for free, via public charter schools.”
The four public charter schools that use RBA’s classical education model are Charter Day School in Leland, Columbus Charter School in Whiteville, Douglass Academy in downtown Wilmington, and South Brunswick Charter School in Southport.
“Our partnership with Highlands allows us to work closely with the best in the industry as we work to continually add value for our students. Highlands’ partnership with us allows them to learn about scaling their product for public implementation. RBA continually works to make top education accessible to the public, and free,” Mitchell continued.
The four classical public charter schools managed by RBA will begin enrolling for the 2016-2017 school year on January 1, 2016. For more information, please visit www.rogerbacon.net.