DPS to close or transform under-performing schools

Contact: Steven Wasko at 313-873-4542 or Jennifer Mrozowski at 313-873-8401

Detroit Public Schools is undertaking a variety of initiatives to overhaul struggling schools, including closing under-performing buildings, replacing the principal and key staff in some schools, designing transformation curriculum models of school reform in others and applying for millions of dollars in grants for the overhauls.

DPS today applied for $47.7 million in funding for the first year of a three-year $104 million plan to transform schools. The funding is available for 108 Michigan schools that are struggling to increase student achievement.

“Our rigorous five-year academic plan includes ambitious targets such as a 98 percent graduation rate and having all third graders read at grade level by 2015,” said Emergency Financial Manager Robert C. Bobb. “To meet those targets, we are closing under-performing schools, replacing more than half the staff in some buildings and creating transformational models in other schools. To meet our objectives and drive every dollar available into classrooms, we hope to secure the maximum state and federal grant support available.”

The funds are from the federal School Improvement Grant, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) signed into law by President Barack Obama last year. Michigan received $119 million from the School Improvement Grant for local schools to improve teaching and learning for all students. Each eligible school can apply for up to $2 million each year, over a three-year period, according to MDE.

DPS applied for the funding for schools, which were identified using a federally-prescribed and federally-approved formula for “Persistently Lowest Achieving Schools.” Detroit Public Schools hopes to use to funding to help DPS achieve rigorous goals that are part of the system’s five-year academic plan that calls for a 98 percent and other targets.

The schools eligible for the School Improvement Grant were identified by student achievement and academic growth based on state testing data from the 2007-09 school years. The state will be using student achievement and academic growth data from 2008-10 to identify schools for the state school reform law beginning this fall, MDE has said.

Districts with eligible schools must have applied to the Michigan Department of Education for a School Improvement Grant by today, August 16, and submit a detailed school improvement plan using one of four improvement models required by the U.S. Department of Education. Schools will begin implementation of their plans this fall and will have three years to use their federal School Improvement Grant funds.

“The board worked with the Emergency Financial Manager to get the application submitted, and we recognize how important it is to attract additional resources to the district to reduce our operating costs and shift as many costs to grants that are available,” said School Board President Anthony Adams.

School improvement plans
Detroit Public Schools has applied for School Improvement Grant funds for schools in four federally-required school improvement models. They are:
1) Transformational Model – Districts would address four specific areas: 1) developing teacher and school leader effectiveness, which includes replacing the principal who led the school prior to commencement of the transformational model; 2) implementing comprehensive instructional reform strategies; 3) extending learning and teacher planning time and creating community-oriented schools; and 4) providing operating flexibility and sustained support.
–Schools: (17): Communication and Media Arts, Crockett, Fisher Magnet Upper, A.L. Holmes, Jemison, Keidan, Murphy, Nolan, Northwestern, Osborn Upper, Parker, Pershing, Pulaski, Schulze, Trix, Vetal and White.
2) Turnaround Model – This would include among other actions, replacing the principal and at least 50 percent of the school’s staff, adopting a new governance structure and implementing a new or revised instructional program.
— Schools (21): Brenda Scott, Denby, Kettering West, Lessenger/Dixon, Phoenix, Southwestern, Barbara Jordan, Bethune/Fitzgerald, Central, Cody Upper, Duffield, Earhart, Farwell, Finney, Henry Ford, Kettering, Law, Mumford, Southeastern, Taft and Western International.
3) School closure/consolidation : District closes failing school and enrolls students in higher performing schools. District doesn’t receive money for closed schools.
— Schools (6): Cooley North Wing, Coffey, Cooley, Detroit High School for Technology, Drew and Fleming.
4) Restart Model – School districts would close the school and reopen it under the management of a charter school operator; a charter management organization; or an educational management organization selected through a rigorous review process. A restart school would be required to enroll, within the grades it serves, any former student who wishes to attend.
— Schools (0)

In order to determine which school reform model best supports each school in making dramatic changes that will produce significant increases in student achievement within a short period of time, the District took the following steps:

1.) Completed a comprehensive review of academic and non-academic data based on a consecutive 4-year period (Beginning 2006-2007 through 2009-2010 school years) for each school. The review process included the following actions:
–Conducted a longitudinal and cohort to cohort change model review of each school’s academic performance (all groups and subgroups), by grade level, on the state assessments (MEAP/MME) in each core academic area.
–Reviewed student performance for each school, by grade level, as measured by the District’s interim assessments, DIBELS, and Accelerated Reader and Math assessments
–Reviewed the number of each school’s special education compliance issues, referrals, and number of students exiting special education categorical programs, and increase in the percent of students placed in a Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
–Reviewed MI-Access data for each center-based program
–Reviewed each school’s English Language Learners academic performance as measured by the ELPA.
–Reviewed each school’s average daily attendance (all groups and subgroups)
–Reviewed each school’s and retention rates for all students and subgroups
–Reviewed each school’s suspension rates and serious incidents reports
–Reviewed the following data for each high school:
–Graduation rate
–Dropout rate
–Number of student’s dually enrolled in a post-secondary program
–Number of student applying/Accepted to Postsecondary Institutions
–Number of students enrolled in AP courses
–Scores on the ACT
–Reviewed changes in each school’s student population due to consolidations/mergers and recent school closures in the targeted school’s enrollment boundary
–Compiled and reviewed qualitative data collected by regional superintendents and the Office of the Academic and Accountability Officer during school walkthroughs
–Reviewed the principal performance review rating of each targeted principal
–Reviewed the number of completed teacher evaluations completed for each school and the number of teachers whose performance was rated as unsatisfactory
–Considered unique factors relative to the school community/context
–Reviewed the impact of any previous reform efforts for each school
–Reviewed each school’s Comprehensive Needs Assessment and School Improvement Plan
–Reviewed data relative to the staff turnover rate and student mobility rate
–Where applicable, reviewed school diagnostic visit data
–Reviewed each school’s 90-day plan

2.) After completing a comprehensive analysis of the data, the District placed each school into one of two categories:

a) Critical Level Intervention Schools
Schools in which all or most of the following exist:
–Student academic performance data reveals a pattern of continual decline, fluctuation, or has been stagnant during the 4 year period (all and/or subgroups)
–Previous reform efforts only yielded incremental improvements
–Limited to no school structures and/or systems are in place to effectively support the implementation of a high quality instructional program
–Non-academic factors impacting the school climate/culture are considerable, making significant change difficult to highly improbable.
–Student enrollment trends and projected enrollment for the four year period
Reform models selected for schools identified as Critical Level Intervention Schools include: Turnaround, Restart, or Closure.

b) High Level Intervention Schools
Schools in which all or most of the following exist:
–Student academic performance data reveals minimal growth over the four year period (all and/or subgroups)
–Previous reform efforts have resulted in moderate improvements
–Some progress has been made to establish the necessary structures and systems required to implement a successful reform effort
–The school staff exhibits a “readiness” and “willingness” to embrace and fully implement the necessary steps associated with reform.

The Transformation Reform Model will be implemented in schools identified as High Level Intervention Schools.

The grant application is designed to assist the district in meeting the goals outlined in its five-year academic plan. Those include:

Expanded time for reading and mathematics under common core curriculum
Instructional time in reading and math will be expanded to 120 minutes daily in every kindergarten through eighth-grade class. For most students, that will mean a dramatic increase in exposure to these two core subject areas.

Pre-algebra for 7th graders
All seventh-grade teachers will receive professional development to support the curriculum change and to prepare them to use research-based techniques in the classroom. All students will receive new text books and supplemental materials.

A tutor for every pre-kindergartner through the Volunteer Reading Corps
More than 5,500 volunteers, representing 130 municipalities, have pledged at least one hour a week for the next three years to tutor DPS students in reading. Volunteers are screened before being assigned to schools.

Additional language courses available
Students at more DPS schools will have access to foreign language courses.

Advanced Placement courses available at every high school
Students at every DPS high school will have access to Advanced Placement courses, which allows high school students to earn college credits.

More opportunities for student apprenticeships, internships, shadowing and mentorships
Students will have greater access to programs that will give them college credits and/or work experience under the district’s five-year Academic Plan.

Other important initiatives to improve the school system include:

Millions of dollars in school building improvements
The DPS School Construction Program will build seven new schools and eleven more will receive extensive renovations or additions. All 18 schools are scheduled for completion by September 2012 to comply with federal guidelines.

New safety and security systems in every school
A $41.7 million new public safety plan will significantly increase the level of detail in security monitoring throughout schools. The centerpiece of the plan is a new alarm and digital camera system. The systems include video surveillance, monitoring systems for the district’s police and a notification system tied to each school’s P.A., phone, bell and clock systems.

Extended Day and Summer School programs
Students have more opportunities to recover credits – for free – than ever before. Combined, the DPS Summer Academy and DPS Extended Day Program gave nearly 1,200 students who were behind the opportunity to graduate without having to complete another year of school.

This entry was posted in News and Press Releases and tagged .