Model Program

Sarah Pyle Academy for Academic Intensity

501 North Lombard Street
Wilmington, DE 19801

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Contact Information:
Dr. Malvine C. Richard

Program Specification:






Strong Evidence of Effectiveness

Age/Grade Level:

Target Settings:

Target Groups:

High School


School Wide


Other Participation Criteria:

All Ethnicities

16+, 5 or less credits, no major behavior issues


The mission of the Sarah Pyle Academy for Academy Intensity is to provide a select student population with an innovative, challenging and technologically advanced non-traditional high school environment that will assist each student to achieve the ultimate goal of earning a high school diploma and becoming employed and ready for post-high school training. This non-traditional high school has an intensive learning environment using individualized and differentiated instructional approaches. Students attend school for a half-day session and participate in a mandatory career development and work experience/internship program in partnership with the local business and schools community. The academy targets students who typically have not achieved success in a traditional school environment and who have made little progress toward graduation. A standard course of study required for graduation is provided. Ongoing student assessments provide data for the development of individualized student plans (Academic Success Plans), and any necessary academic interventions. Students are expected to graduate within two years of acceptance into the program.

Program Descriptors Include:
Academic Improvement, Alternative Education, Attendance/Truancy, Career Education, Community Collaboration, Computer Assisted Instruction, Counseling/Advisories/Coaches, Credit Recovery, Extended-School/Summer Program, Family/Parental Involvement, Homeless, Literacy Development, Mentoring/Tutoring, Middle/Early College, Professional Development, Service Learning, Students with Disabilities, Study Skills, Teen Pregnancy, Life Skills Training

Strategies for Locating Students:

Starting Date: 2005
Students Served Per Year: 50-250
Reenrolled Students with Disabilities: 11-15%
Last Verified: 2010

Risk Factors:

Protective Factors:

Program addresses the following:

Individual factors

  • Has a learning disability or emotional disturbance
  • High number of work hours
  • Parenthood
  • High-risk peer group
  • High-risk social behavior
  • Low achievement
  • Retention/overage for grade
  • Poor attendance
  • Low educational expectations
  • Lack of effort
  • Low commitment to school
  • No extracurricular participation

Family factors

  • Low socioeconomic status
  • High family mobility
  • Low education level of parents
  • Not living with both natural parents
  • Family disruption
  • Low educational expectations
  • Sibling(s) has dropped out
  • Low contact with school
  • Lack of conversations about school

School factors

  • School size: too small/too large
  • School policies and practices
  • Student engagement
  • Teacher expectations

Community factors

  • Family composition/socioeconomic status
  • Local labor market/neighborhood stability
  • Youth social attitudes

Program promotes the following:


  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults
  • Opportunities and rewards for pro-social involvement
  • Clear social norms
  • Good relationships with parents, peers, and teachers
  • Involvement with positive peer activities
  • Perception of support from adults and peers


  • Healthy/conventional beliefs and standards
  • Positive/resilient temperament


  • Social competencies
  • Self efficacy


  • Problem-solving skills
  • Flexibility


  • High expectations by community, family, school, and self
  • Optimistic

Program Resources:

Annual Cost:

The annual cost range of the program is over $500,000 or over $2000 per student.

Funding Sources Include:

Program Staff Includes:

State Agencies
Local/City/County Agencies
School Districts

Social Workers
School Administrators

Materials Used:

Supporting / Partner Organizations:

Instructional Texts/Manuals
Computer/Internet Based

City of Wilmington, Veterans Admin. Hosp., WSFS Bank;Delaware Read Aloud, AIDS Delaware, American Civil Liberities Union, Land Trust Alliance, Longwood Foundation, The Wellness Community, Clear Air Council, Catalyst Project, Delaware Greenways, Fair Play, Focus on Kids, Jewish Federation of Delaware, Delaware Coalition Against Violence, Creative Grandparenting, Delaware Community Investment Corp., Diamond Edge Foundation, Girl Scouts - Chesapeake Bay Council, Meals on Wheels Delaware, Prevent Child Abuse Delaware, The College Fund, The Wellness Community, Wilmington Healthy Start, Delaware HIV Consortium, First Night Wilmington

Evaluation Information:

The school serves the three high schools in the Christina School district and is designed to lessen the dropout rate. Based on evaluation measures through Research for Better Schools, SPA has shown the following impacted based on the third year of continous operation and evaluation. MAP (Measures for Achievement Progress) scores for reading improved by a margin greater than the national average; average credits per student increased from 3.16 to 6.6 credits, an overall increase of over 250% in total credits for the year; Increase of over 300% in the number of graduates as compared to the 2006-2007 school year; 58% of the 50 students graduating in June and August 2008, qualified and applied for the Delaware SEED Grant; and over 80% of parents came in at least twice over the course of the year for workshops, conferences, or celebrations. For the 2008-2009 school year, 75 students or half of the population is slated to graduate this year.

How evaluation data was collected:
Outside experimental studies
Data collected and analyzed at school/district level