Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy is a Core Knowledge School of Distinction. Their devoted community of staff and families has embraced a collaborative, integrated and domain-based approach to learning.

After extensive observation and review, our team at Core Knowledge Foundation is honored to note Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy as a Core Knowledge Schools of Distinction due to the following qualities:

About Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy

Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy (LCTA) is a public elementary school located in Alexandria, Virginia. They’ve created a structured yet nurturing environment for their diverse student body, where each student receives the individual attention needed to build strong foundations in both academics and character.

LCTA’s 45 licensed staff members accommodate around 450 students in kindergarten through grade 5.

Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy and Core Knowledge Foundation

Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy began using pieces of the Core Knowledge curriculum in 2006 and became an official Core Knowledge school in 2009, when staff voted to formally adopt the Core Knowledge approach.

They utilize the Core Knowledge Sequence and curriculum at every grade level. Kindergarten through Grade 5 uses Core Knowledge Language Arts, and grades 4 and 5 use Core Knowledge History and Geography. They also work in additional materials as necessary to ensure that students meet specific standards set by the state of Virginia. The leadership at LCTA, led by its principal, Dr. Patricia Zissios, is committed to knowledge-based schooling. They work together with the staff to provide a rich and supported learning environment for students.

A Special Connection to Our Founder

E.D. Hirsch, Jr. dedicated an entire section of his book, How to Educate a Citizen, to the success and accomplishments of LCTA’s use of the Core Knowledge approach. He wrote the following:

“…each child in each grade of the Lyles-Crouch school moves forward in a productive way…”

“No child is left with gaping holes in his or her knowledge. And this common knowledge becomes the enabling foundation for further shared knowledge …”

Content Integration Across Subjects and Grade Levels

Teaching domain content in context across school subjects and grade levels makes learning more meaningful. It also enables teachers to cover content and skills simultaneously, building upon knowledge from previous grades.

Grade 5 teacher at Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy, Larry Albert, shared his experience integrating Core Knowledge Language Arts, Core Knowledge History and Geography, and Virginia State Curriculum content to build on his students’ knowledge of Native Americans.

“We were doing the CKHG unit on Exploration at the same time we were doing CKLA for Native Americans. Second grade does an in-depth unit on Native Americans as part of the Virginia state curriculum. By accessing their grade level materials—trade books, readers, etc.—my students were provided with independent and instructional level reading filled with the content that they were required to know and understand. We set them up for success!

They were able to apply this newly gained knowledge and not only look at the global aspect of interactions between the groups, but together, we were able to see sides of a similar story told from two different points of view. Everyone was able to engage in rich discourse and bring it forward to westward expansion and the impact that it had on Native Americans.”

Larry Albert, Grade 5 teacher at LCTA

Developmental Growth Through Stories

Kindergarten teachers cover content and skills simultaneously through LCTA’s use of the “Retell Center” to enhance language and reading skills with Kindergarteners. Students listen to stories of varying topics and retell them together as a group, hearing the story several times. Eventually, the students pair up and role play to support the other in telling the story. Students can extend and enrich the retelling with a drawing of the setting, where they can also add other components of the story. 

With these scaffolds in place, students eventually know the story well enough to retell it independently. The Retell Center strengthens oral language skills, employs teamwork, grows social skills, and develops pre-reading skills in listening, speaking, and sequencing that eventually build their confidence as readers. Story elements are learned in a fun, interactive manner that encourages student engagement in the process.

Integration of Content Within Special Areas of Study

Not only is classroom instruction aligned at Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy, but instructors from special areas of study, such as physical education, art, music, and library, are in sync with what students are learning elsewhere. They plan lessons to complement and support what’s taught in other subjects. The character education program is even able to tap into the curriculum by noting historic figures of integrity and demonstrating how their accomplishments influence today’s world. 

This approach enhances student learning experiences and sets the stage for higher order thought processes. Connections are more easily made to other aspects of the student’s learning environment, and they’re able to see how content is relevant.

Collaboration Across the Community

Dedicated leadership, teachers, parents and other Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy community members eagerly adopted the Core Knowledge approach to ensure a cohesive and comprehensive education for all students.

Growing Achievement Levels for All Students

While students at Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy score an average high of 90%+ on standardized tests, LCTA has developed plans to consistently increase the achievement levels of all students, especially gap groups that are often hidden in the data. It’s a community-wide effort to ensure that every student has what they need to grow and learn.

Teachers meet at least once a week in professional learning communities. These teams consist of grade level teams and intervention specialists (reading, English Language Learner, Special Education, etc.) to identify students, develop a learning plan, and monitor progress at specific time intervals. The learning plan strategies are fine-tuned based on the data. Instructional time is maximized by using specialists to tutor identified students and grouping students across classrooms based on their instructional needs. Teams meet quarterly for planning in addition to weekly meetings, and team leaders meet monthly with opportunities to discuss upcoming domain units.

Volunteers are also assigned specific learning tasks by classroom teachers and complete feedback forms for teachers. Classes have dedicated daily intervention time for both student enrichment and reteaching support.

School and Family Partnerships

School staff and families collaborate to ensure students can learn and grow in a supported environment. The Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has even received a variety of awards for their dedication to students. In 2021, they received the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award of Distinction at the NOVA District PTA Annual Meeting.

Visit Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy

To learn techniques and processes for implementing our approach at your school, consider a visit to Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy in Alexandria. Check out their Facebook page and the Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy website to learn more and plan your visit.