Talent Development Secondary

Talent Development Secondary (TDS) develops and implements effective programs for improving middle and high school students’ academic performance and college and career readiness. TDS partners with schools, introduces research-based strategies such as teacher teams and small learning communities, and provides professional development and coaching for staff. 

Since 1994, the Talent Development programs have been developed and housed at the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University. TDS combines positive changes in an entire school’s culture with an early warning system to identify and work directly with individual students who are struggling with poor attendance, poor behavior, and/or failing English or math. Growing awareness of the many obstacles to academic success, including those outside of school, in high-poverty settings led TDS to augment its model through strategic partnerships with organizations addressing students’ social, psychological and economic needs. This collaborative approach, called “Diplomas Now,” unites TDS’s academic supports with student supports and near-peer mentoring provided by City Year and intensive student services from True North Fund grantee Communities In Schools

Diplomas Now is the largest subset of TDS sites and accounts for nearly three-quarters of the youth the organization serves. TDS also operates sites outside the Diplomas Now model.  

2014 Highlights

  • TDS developed a business plan to 1) deepen the impact and expand the reach of its whole school reform model, Diplomas Now; 2) lower costs and secure more local revenue; 3) extend MDRC’s randomized controlled trial evaluation of Diplomas Now; and 4) increase its influence on educational policy and reform.

Youth Served

Note: The youth-served total does not include four schools that no longer require the full TDS model and have graduated to a limited “sustaining” program. This accounts for some of the FY15 service decline.

Revenue (in millions)


Off-track students who are back on track within one year of being identified


Students who enter high school without off-track indicators
  • Legend:
  • Actual
  • Projected