Making the Grade: Detroit Collegiate Preparatory High School Community Reflects on Conferences

“Weigh in on how we performed as a school.”

This was the first question Principal Ricardo Martin asked the 24 community member participants on a survey after the Detroit Collegiate Preparatory High School “Community Grade Conferences” was over in the school’s cafeteria.

DCPrep Scholars, as students are referred to often, met with pre-screened business professionals from the community to dialogue about how first quarter grades turned out, set goals and get serious about grades.

“I loved the interpersonal and relaxed atmosphere.  This allows students to open up and reflect,” Janae Griggs of I Am Pink Detroit said.

“I have never experienced anything like this before,” Griggs observed.

Theresa Mitchell of the Detroit Parent Network agreed.   “This event allowed students to receive positive feedback and encouragement to do their very best even if they had not done so before.”

Report card conversations with parents get mixed reviews depending on how well a student performs, added principal Martin.  Community Grade conferences give Scholars a forum to reflect on how they did first quarter and what needs to happen differently or stay the same in the case of 4.0 grades.

The ultimate goal is teaching students how to be academically resilient.

“This was a very uplifting and positive experience.  Students were well spoken and very promising,” said Valdez Tilton of Communities in Schools.

Community leaders received the necessary supplies, a brief introduction, and a personal thank you letter for participating in the conference.

Prior to the start of the conference, students entered the cafeteria in groups to be seen by community leaders for less than 5 minutes.  A community leader worked with as many as 10 students where they reviewed student grades, offered support in their area of career interests, inquired about personal and school related interests, possible changes to current practices that might help predict future success, and how classes contribute to state mandated graduation requirements.

Detroit Collegiate Preparatory High School stresses the importance of student ownership and professionalism as part of the school’s fourth pillar “CAN DO CLIMATE,” an element embedded within the Talent Development Johns Hopkins approach to care and nurture a culture based on strong relationships between adults and students.  Students were dressed in traditional College Wednesday attire – navy blazers, white shirts and ties.  Teachers prepped students on how to talk, sit, engage, make eye contact, lean forward and use a firm handshake.

About Detroit Collegiate Preparatory High School:

Detroit Collegiate Preparatory High School offers Detroit students a college-going learning experience to prepare them for academics and careers.  The high school, which includes 9th and 10th graders, and is continuing to enroll through second semester, provides a college preparatory curriculum allowing students to explore college courses and visit college campuses, participate in Upward Bound Detroit, work at internships, and engage in community service and academy based projects.  The school has partnerships with Johns Hopkins University, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Wayne State University, City Year, Communities in Schools, and other business and community organizations.  Grades will be added each year through 12th grade. Students participate in extra-curricular activities such as the Urban Planning Academy with a focus on City of Detroit service projects and Entrepreneur Academy with a focus on school store marketing and management.

DC Prep also is one of nine Detroit Rising College Preparatory Schools.

This new line of nine self-governing schools is designed to replicate high-performing urban school designs at scale within a collective bargaining agreement. The schools are committed to putting every student on a path to graduation and college. The schools will work to ensure at least 90 percent of incoming 9th graders graduate and at least 90 percent of all graduates go to college.

The idea is to delegate power to principals and teachers at the school level, but hold them accountable for performance, in an attempt to get the innovation and quality of high-performing schools.

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