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Hardy Brown College Prep School Makes Academic Gains

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By Nelson Brown –

In 1863, after 252 years of legal bondage in America, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a presidential order declaring the freedom of the slaves. It took 58 years, from 1896 to 1954, for the Supreme Court decision in the case of Brown vs. Board of Education, to rule that segregation in public schools be outlawed. And then it took 29 years, from 1937 to 1966 for the 24th Amendment, which prohibited poor African Americans from voting in federal elections, to be declared unconstitutional.

But in its first ten weeks as a new public charter school for the downtown San Bernardino area, history has been made at Hardy Brown College Prep (HBCP). HBCP made amazing and significant academic growth during its first trimester, which represents the first 10 weeks of school. HBCP students range from kindergarten through third grade, and sixth grade. Hardy Brown is modeled after PS7, a high achieving K-8 public charter school in Sacramento, California that serves predominately low-income, African American students.

Teachers assessed their students, determining where they were academically before the school year started at HBCP. There is ongoing assessment to monitor the students’ progress, and finally there is a summation evaluation that indicates the mastery of particular skills for a student’s grade level. The academic areas of the assessment are reading and math.

“Speaking as a parent, my own son couldn’t read at all when he first came to Hardy Brown. Now he reads 80 words per minute and he’s very confident as a reader, and in his ability to articulate what he knows,” said Howana Lundy, Principal of Hardy Brown College Prep, of her first grade son.

The first grade students showed a notable increase in reading proficiency of 29 percentage points and a 34 percentage point gain in math. Second graders performed even better, increasing their academic performance by 42 percentage points in reading fluency and 38 percentage points in math proficiency.

Sixth graders made gains in English Language Arts, however their most impressive gain was in math. Sixth graders increased their math proficiency by 39 percentage points.

The most substantial gains in the school were made by the third grade students of HBCP. Student performance assessments taken prior to the start of school showed that none of the 40 incoming third graders were reading at grade level.

In just 10 weeks, at the first trimester mark, the third grade students improved their reading proficiency by a remarkable 55 percentage points. In math, where only 3 percent of students were at grade level, proficiency has increased to 60 percent.

One third grade student, whose parent wished to remain anonymous, came into Hardy Brown College Prep barely knowing how to read. “He was reading 36 words per minute. Now, after only a few months, he is reading 101 words per minute,” said Natasha Cook, Educational Specialist at HBCP.

“Some schools have a “wait to fail” model for deciding on a child’s fate. Here at Hardy Brown, we catch them before they get to that point,” she continued.

Not only has the school been busy focusing on the improvement of students’ academic success, the leadership of HBCP has also ensured students play an active role in the community.

Most recently, in recognition of the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, sixth grade students attended a breakfast ceremony in King’s honor. The talented students recited poetry and sang, impressing an audience of San Bernardino’s faith, community and political leadership.

There was also a recent HBCP school board meeting held on February 4, where students were recognized for perfect attendance and being on the Honor Roll. “My son Jeremy has never made the Honor Roll before,” said JoeAnn Brown. “I was so proud to see my son getting an award for his grades,” she continued.

One of the many reasons Hardy Brown College Prep is having academic success, could arguably be attributed to the five core principles embedded and constantly reinforced to each student. They are: High Expectations, Focus on Results, More Time, Choice and Commitment, and Citizenship.

In all, there are over 200 students at Hardy Brown, and over a third of them made Honor Roll, which requires a student to earn 80 percent or better in a core academic subject like English, math, science or social studies.

For more information on Hardy Brown College Prep and upcoming enrollment for the 2011-2012 school year, call (909) 884-1410.

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