Detroit Public Schools announces school-based transformation initiatives designed to improve academics and competitiveness

Innovations include new K-12 International Baccalaureate program, a high school program expansion, a new dual language immersion program, more art and music, a new Honors School-Within-a-School and more 

Detroit Public Schools on Wednesday announced more than a dozen new school-based innovations — many from proposals submitted by principals and educators — for enhancing academics, enrichment and customer service for thousands of DPS families.

The innovations include a new International Baccalaureate program, a high school program expansion at a highly coveted academy, a new dual language immersion program, more art and music, a new Honors School-within-a-School and more. The initiatives are designed to expand proven academic offerings and replicate successful academic programs that families and students desire.

The enhancements, which are an additional component of Emergency Manager Darnell Earley’s 10-point management plan to reinvent and transform the district’s business and academic operations to support high achieving schools, come a week after the district said eight schools will undergo a restructuring process this summer. The goal of the restructuring is to radically transform the schools’ academics and culture, and add wrap-around services to each of the eight schools.

Many of the new school-based innovations grew out of a first-ever Strategic Proposal Process in which principals and instructional staff were encouraged to submit visions and ideas on how to enhance academic operations throughout the district. A new Core Strategy Team reviewed nearly 60 proposals from across the district and selected those that would best enhance academic offerings for the 2015-16 school year.

“We don’t have a second to lose in our work to transform Detroit Public Schools into a district that is centered on and strategically designed to support high-achievement at every level,” said DPS Emergency Manager Darnell Earley.  “These new school-based innovations, which grew out of plans submitted by the experts on the ground, are designed to make are our schools and students immediately academically competitive with the highest-achieving schools and districts.”

The school-based innovations are centered on three themes: expanding or replicating successful academic offerings, customer service/process improvements, and the continuation of a comprehensive southwest Detroit strategy:

The plans for the fall of 2015-16 include:

  • A new Clark Park K-12 Educational Comunidad at Maybury, Earhart and Western International High School: This program will include a strengthened/shared programming focused on community/cultural heritage, including STEM, University programming, DAPCEP, AP, Dual language, tutoring/mentoring, and athletics at these three school which anchor Clark Park. The initiative will include a partnership with the Clark Park Coalition.
  • A new Dual Immersion Bilingual Academy at Neinas Elementary: Neinas will implement a dual immersion program to serve the community and create a feeder school to the successful Academy of the Americas.
  • Escuela Preparatoria La Academia de las Americas expansion: The district will expand the Academy of the Americas to a new high school campus. Academy of the Americas, which added a grade 9 this year, will expand to grade 10 and continue to add a grade each year through grade 12.
  • Beard SW Detroit Adult Ed and Early Childhood Community Learning Center: A new Adult Education program will be added to the Beard early childhood site in Southwest Detroit to serve the needs of the growing bilingual community.
  • New northwest side IB educational pathway: Foreign Language and Immersion Studies School and Renaissance High School, which are located on the same campus in northwest Detroit, will create a new K-12 International Baccalaureate Program.
  • Art-Music-Gym Expansion at Middle Schools: Fisher Upper Academy, Clippert Academy and Ludington Magnet Middle School will see expanded offerings of Art, Music or Gym through a new scheduling process.
  • New Ludington Magnet Middle Honors School: Ludington Magnet Middle School will create a school within a school to serve as a new Honors Program to replicate highly-coveted advanced academics programs like those offered at Bates Academy and Mark twain School for Scholars.
  • Thirkell Elementary-Middle School Expansion: Thirkell, which is being restructured as part of a program to transform the academics and culture at 8 schools, will expand to include an eighth grade.
  • Project-Based Learning Initiative: Schools districtwide will enhance their academic competitiveness through new Project-Based Learning Programs, in which students engage in hands-on, real-world activities to more deeply explore, understand and connect to their academic subjects.
  • World-Class Education partnerships at Wayne Elementary School: This program includes a multi-faceted approach to improving academic rigor at Wayne, including creating a high quality instructional program that contains a rigorous and vertically aligned curriculum, effective teaching, and ongoing assessments; higher levels of rigor with differentiated instruction for all students and interventions for students who are not yet proficient; early childhood focus designed to help each child read, on grade level, by the beginning of third grade and where pre-literacy development is essential to closing achievement gaps. Additional programs will improve attendance rates, data management systems, instructional leadership and parent and community engagement.
  • Chrysler-Bunche Pathway: New educational programs and pathways will be created to transition students at Chrysler Elementary school, a coveted application school, into nearby Bunche Academy.
  • Frederick Douglass Academy Strategic Partnerships: Douglass Academy, all-male school for grades 6-12, will create new programming to support its single-gender themes, in a richly supported 21st century educational environment that promotes college/career success and personal growth.
  • Top Seat Program: The district will strategically market and publicize open and available seats at DPS’ highly sought-after, top flight application schools, including Bates, Chrysler, FLICS, Cass Technical High School and Renaissance High School to ensure 100 percent capacity.
  • Curb appeal and signage standards and enhancements: The district will develop a comprehensive Curb Appeal Operations Plan including landscape, signage, and campus beautification including support from school partners. In addition to dedicated district resources for every school site, the school system will newly engage school partners, particularly businesses, community organizations and churches to seek volunteer resources and in-kind donations for basic campus clean-up/beautification work.
  • Earn and Learn Parent University Initiative: Through the DPS Office of Parent and Community Engagement Parent University Program (Parent U), the district will offer paid parental employment and a better understanding of how to support student learning – “Parent Earn and Learn” — to lay a foundation for improved attendance and academic achievement. The program offers parents an opportunity to build their employment capability and capacity by attending classes which are grouped in four key areas of interest: Academics, Life Skills, Parenting and Professional Development. Engaging parents through Parent University will provide an opportunity to understand parental learning styles in the interest of employment and teaching them how to more effectively support their child’s education.
  • Electronic Parent Communications: The district will improve parent engagement through new academically-focused text alerts and web-based communications.
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