Student enrollment continues to stabilize for the fourth consecutive year, validating the focused effort Detroit Public Schools Community District has made to implement innovative academic programs district-wide.
Conservative estimates regarding preliminary Count Day figures show enrollment at 45,265-45,365, just shy 1/2 of one percent of the targeted goal. Enrollment numbers have remained steady over the last four years with only a 1.7-3% reduction in student enrollment, compared to historical data of 10% or more, and continued growth in market share.
“We are pleased with our continued progress in stabilizing enrollment, while focusing on our goal of providing an excellent education for our students,” said Alycia Meriweather, interim superintendent, Detroit Public Schools Community District. “This is a true Fresh Start for DPSCD, and our enrollment trends show that parents are excited about our initiatives and showing their faith by staying in and enrolling in our schools.”
The district has implemented several innovative programs that have encouraged long-term retention. These include: free early childhood Montessori programs with certified instructors in three schools, additional S.T.E.A.M. instruction across a variety of schools, wrap-around services to meet student needs, a new English Language Learners program for over-age students, and more honors and foreign language immersion courses.
Other initiatives that resonated with parents and students were the district’s S.T.E.A.M.y Summer Events program and the Summer Reading Challenge. Students participating in S.T.E.A.M.y Summer had the opportunity to visit locations such as the Michigan Science Center, Detroit Children’s Museum and the Wayne County Family Aquatic Center to learn about science, technology, engineering, arts and math in a nontraditional setting. The Summer Reading Challenge encouraged students in kindergarten through twelfth grade to enjoy classic reading adventures.
Overall, 50 schools demonstrated increased or stabilized enrollment from Fall 2015-Fall 2016 Count Dates. Included in the gains were many schools where the new academic innovations have been implemented this year and last year. For example, Academy of the Americas enrolled 122 more students, Sampson-Webber Leadership Academy 40 additional students, and Cooke STEM Academy 35 more students. At Priest Elementary-Middle School where a new innovative Over-Age ELL classroom opened this fall and where refugee and immigrant families are relocating in greater numbers, overall enrollment is up 96 students.
The district launched eight Montessori classrooms this fall in which teacher guides are leading individualized instruction for the first time in a public school setting in the City of Detroit and is home to nearly 150 students, including a number of families who are new to DPS or DPSCD. The district is about to embark on a new process within weeks for new innovative proposals for the 17-18 school year that are again expected to be a draw for parents.
“While we are pleased with our progress, I want to stress that we are making every day count with a focus on academics and innovative programs. Each year we are raising the bar in terms of what we offer our students. We want to ensure our families remain with us to reap the benefits of what we provide,” said Meriweather.
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