The Carlton School is the smallest elementary school in Salem and serves 235 students in grades K-5. Housed in a "Green Building" built in 2004, the Carlton strives to incorporate environmental science studies into the everyday curriculum. Currently our school has 17 classrooms. Over the past six years the school has added one additional class each with the result of doubling our school population. The Carlton School hosts Sheltered English Immersion classes for Grades 1 and 2 as well as the Specific Learning Disabilities program for grades 1-5.
Carlton is a Massachusetts public Innovation School, which allows it to operate with greater autonomy and flexibility with regard to curriculum, staffing, budget, schedule/calendar, professional development, and district policies. An Innovation School is able implement innovative strategies to improve student achievement while keeping school funding within districts.
Key Components of the Plan
The Carlton’s Innovation Plan has meant significant changes to the school’s structure, curriculum, grade levels, staffing and calendar. These changes include:
-Students are placed in multi-age classrooms within team levels, as opposed to traditional grade levels. These team levels are indicated in the table on page 12.
-Students remain in the same classroom with the same teacher for up to two and one-half years, depending on the student’s progress in standards achievement.
-Each kindergartener begins school in the trimester following his/her fifth birthday, and transition to the next grade at the trimester interval in which he/she is able to demonstrate competency with the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework standards, physical and developmental skills, and is socially and emotionally ready to move up to the next team (grade) level.
-Teachers evaluate students poised to transition to the next team level three times per school year at trimester intervals. This allows teachers to move students to the next team (grade) level
when the individual student is ready, rather than at the end of the traditional school year. This means that some students move mid-year, while others remain in the same class for additional trimesters. This allows a student to increase the amount of time within a grade level without repeating and entire year at that grade. Because students leave and enter classrooms at various times, the social stigma of grade promotion and retention will be non-existent.
Curriculum and Instructional Structure
-Each student receives instruction matched to his/her achievement level every day.
-The curriculum emphasizes student ownership of learning and progress across the standards.
-The core subjects of reading, writing and math are taught using a workshop model with intensive and targeted small group instruction.
-The content area subjects science and social studies are taught using inquiry-and project-based methods in heterogeneous groups.
-Standards-based continuums are developed for each team level in each core subject based on the new Massachusetts Frameworks and Common Core State Standards.
-Common assessments are selected and developed to assess student progress on each standard and will be used to guide teachers’ instruction of students on a daily basis.
-Each student is placed in flexible and fluid groups based upon his/her progress in each subject.
-Students whose achievement is significantly higher in a subject could be grouped with another team for that subject.
-Each student has the opportunity to participate in an early morning success period to receive a double dose of instruction in that student’s area of greatest need or to extend his/her progress.