Success Stories

Disadvantaged African American Students in Urban School Double and Triple Scores

City Springs School – Baltimore, MD

City Springs School located in Baltimore, Maryland is a high-poverty school with a student population that is 99% African American. The school, a K-8 campus, had a history of low performance. Only 33% of 7th grade students met or exceeded the benchmark standards on the Maryland State Assessment (MSA) exam in 2004-05. This means two out of every three children were failing! 

City Springs Success Story Figure 2Through the implementation of Direct Instruction with NIFDI support, City Springs has made extraordinary gains in student achievement. The school's teaching staff were trained on critical aspects of the program, including student assessment, program delivery and adjusting instruction to react to individual students' needs. Through NIFDI’s coaches training model, the school’s leadership team developed the skills necessary to effectively lead a full-immersion DI implementation. As a result, the percentage of 7th graders meeting or exceeding the state benchmark more than doubled, from 33% to 79% (see Figure 1).


Similar improvement has been made at the lower grades on the state exam. In 2007, only 26% of first through sixth graders were functioning on grade level in reading - and even fewer in math (See Figure 2 and Figure 3). By 2010 - just three years later - performance had nearly tripled, to 72% of students reading on grade level!

City Springs Success Story Fig 3 crop2City Springs Success Story Fig 4 crop



To learn more about the school and its implementation of DI, view the Battle of City Springs Epilogue, a documentary that captures the difficulty of transforming the school. The video tells the story of the school that experienced years of failure before implementing the full immersion model of Direct Instruction. The academic performance was terrible and the school climate was just as poor. Students ran the halls, and teachers locked classroom doors in order to control them…and keep others out. 

After six years of implementing the full immersion of DI with support from NIFDI, the school is the epitome of success. The halls are clean and orderly. Students are well behaved. Most important, student performance has improved dramatically. Students, teachers and the principal take great pride in their accomplishments.