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A Model for Urban Student Engagement and Achievement


Overview of the C.R.E.A.T.E. Instructional Model
  1. Teach the way Students Learn.
    Use language, stories, analogies that directly relate to the students' interests, and be highly interactive.
  2. Focus on the most Essential Concepts. Mastery of the most key concepts is more important than drive-by coverage of an entire textbook.
  3. Assess and Master during Class.
    Do not let a single student leave the classroom without demonstrating Mastery of the Objective.
  4. Reward, Reward, Reward!!!
    Create a culture that rewards students and makes it cool to succeed.
Purpose of this Website & the Significance of “Unlocking the Potential of Urban Students”

This website presents the C.R.E.A.T.E. model that has consistently led to success for below grade level, low income urban students in my classroom and closed the achievement gap in terms of race and income. This instructional website is a resource for all educators, especially teachers in grades 7-12, who are driven and determined to unleash the hidden potential within students who may have failed or struggled throughout their schooling and who may not always be intrinsically motivated to perform their best in school. The student population that is at the heart of this instructional model is urban youth, who are often African American and Latino, and live in low socio-economic neighborhoods. The target populations of the C.R.E.A.T.E. model are our urban students who are often several grade levels behind and who, as a result of repeated failure in school, negative self-perception and low expectations, are not always driven to succeed in the classroom.

"The greatest single factor affecting student achievement is the teacher in the classroom."
-Robert Marzano

The C.R.E.A.T.E. model believes only in teachers who believe in their students and who are willing to fight for their students. If you are not one of these determined and passionate educators, then you might as well stop reading right here. Inner city youth do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. Therefore, we can through love and stubborn will, convince our urban minds that they are destined to succeed in school and to be proud of being smart. We can more importantly help them to actually experience success in school by developing positive relationships, setting high expectations and adapting our instruction to their needs. We can empower them to unlock their potential.

-Dr. Kadhir Raja December 2010

Principles of C.R.E.A.T.E

C.R.E.A.T.E. was developed over two years through extensive interviews with students and my own reflection on my teaching practices. My students in the Special Education Class were outperforming the district in algebra in 2008. The students I had in 2009, this time in General Education, outperformed the state average, and have come to champion the notion that it is possible for poor black and brown students, who were far below grade level in an inner city comprehensive high school, to close the achievement gap in terms of race and income. The students were excited and the district was shocked by the results. The big question is why were these students succeeding in my class? Why were they doing better than their peers? The deep reflection, student testimonials, and speaking engagements at the district, state, and national level, have helped to initiate the formulation of the C.R.E.A.T.E. model which I give credit to explain why my kids were so successful.

There are several underlying themes that are significant to this model, that reach beyond the traditional teaching models, used in addressing the needs of marginalized students who are left out - often our African American and Latino students. 

  • The factor that has the greatest impact on student achievement is the effectiveness of the classroom teacher (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001).  Quality instruction is the single biggest factor influencing gains in achievement, an influence many times greater than poverty or per-pupil expenditures (Sanders and Horn, 1994; Wright, Horn, and Sanders, 1997).
  • Another significant principle that is central to the model is that a teacher of any race or gender can have success with urban students of color.
  • The final tenet that is critical to understanding the purpose of the model is that all of our students should be accountable, and that the majority of students can be expected to succeed on standardized exams.  While there are shortcomings to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and its accountability measures, I believe that its greatest gift is that it keeps schools, teachers, and students accountable.  Certainly, students can demonstrate learning through many different ways including oral discussions, projects, and portfolios.  But students should also be tested, and although those standardized tests are often culturally biased, our students of color need to be able to succeed on those tests if they are to be competitive in society. 
Engaging Students
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