Mabel B. Wesley Elementary
The Mabel B. Wesley Elementary School, in Houston, Texas, has had a school-wide Direct Instruction language arts curriculum since 1976, and has implemented other direct instruction programs and other programs based on related approaches in other subject matters. Eighty-four percent of the largely African American student body population qualify for free or reduced lunch. In spite of the sometimes severe conditions of poverty from which many of the students come, this school consistently outperforms other elementary schools within the Houston school district, including schools with students in the top SES. Through the use of Direct Instruction, students develop the foundation skills on which they can build many of the skills other programs assume students will acquire with no direct planning. They are able to move successfully from the structured learning environment of Direct Instruction to advanced lessons in thinking and problem solving and are also well prepared to handle less structured “student centered” environments. Comparison studies show Wesley students greatly outperforming matched minority schools in the state, and outperforming state norms for all schools except in grade 5 math, where scores were equal to state norms. On standardized tests, Wesley scores at or above national norms.
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