Retention strategies, strategic programs aid academic, enrollment progress
Unofficial student enrollment in Detroit Public Schools for Fall 2014 surpassed DPS’ budget forecast for the 2015 FY, and for the second consecutive year exceeded professional demographer projections.
DPS, on November 12, concluded the mandated 30-day period following the Fall Count Date by certifying that 47,238.01 “FTE” (full-time equivalent) students are enrolled across the District’s 97 schools. The FTE figure, once audited, is the basis for the per-pupil funding from the Michigan Department of Education, which provides educational resources.
The numbers reflect an increase of more than 49 students over the budget target, and nearly 1,080, or 2.3%, more students than demographic predictions. Last year, the district exceeded demographer predictions by 1,035 and also gained one percent of “market share” of Detroit’s estimated resident school-age population.
The reduction of 1,686 pupils equates to a dip of 3.4% from 2013. In 2013, the dip from the previous school year was 1.7%. Both years’ enrollment performance reflect a change in decades of losses, which for the previous six years amounted to 10.4% annually, and have been recorded despite increasing competition from other educational providers and an expected 2,175 fewer school-age children in Detroit.
Emergency Manager Jack Martin credited newly implemented strategic initiatives to enhance rigor, replicate successful academic programs and provide comprehensive enrichment, customer service and safety for the comparable enrollment stability. Specific expanded/enhanced programs, including the Academy of the Americas 9th grade academy and Mark Twain School for Scholars gifted and talented program, recorded enrollment increases of greater than 10%, and enrollment across 12 DPS schools in southwest Detroit, where the district implemented a comprehensive strategy, is up two percent.
In addition to focusing on academic strengths, DPS focused on retention by conducting a joint Summer Literacy Initiative with partners including the Detroit Public Library, holding Academic Family Nights in September at all schools, surveying all parents twice annually and holding culture-and-climate training for all school security officers.
The district continues to work with the community to implement its 2013-2017 Strategic Plan and will study school-by-school enrollment figures in the context of academic programs, while also taking into account the range of population trends across Detroit’s neighborhoods, to determine program enhancements as well as process improvements for the 2015-16 school year.