Plan provides framework for academic turnaround of Michigan’s largest school district
DETROIT (Nov. 4, 2016) – Detroit Public Schools Community District’s Interim Superintendent Alycia Meriweather, Transition Manager Steven Rhodes and the Academic Advisory Council announce the unveiling of the district’s long-term academic plan designed to significantly improve the student performance of Michigan’s largest school district.
“It’s gratifying to see the work of the last several months come to fruition. This is a fresh start for DPSCD. With local control being restored, the realization of financial stability and a new ground breaking academic plan, we believe the district is on track for a major turnaround,” said Rhodes.
The Academic Advisory Council was comprised of 160 DPSCD students, parents, teachers, principals, community members, and faculty from the state’s leading universities. The team worked collaboratively to create a plan that would move the district forward and provide a clear trajectory for student success.
Elizabeth Birr Moje, Interim Dean, School of Education, University of Michigan said Interim Superintendent Meriweather and her team were working with the best interests of Detroit children and youth at the forefront of their efforts. “I am pleased to contribute to this important work, and I am deeply hopeful that the results of this effort will benefit Detroit youth,” said Moje.
Collectively, council members reviewed the plan and provided feedback over the course of six months in several phases. The intention was that the plan would guide the district for the next 8 -10 years, the length of time research indicates is needed for a system-wide turnaround.
“Our mission is to ensure excellence in education for every student in Detroit. While it’s true that the plan harnesses the power of nationally recognized best practices, it also includes several innovative strategies being implemented all at the same time. I would be hard pressed to name any other district that is taking this approach,” said Meriweather.
DPSCD’s plan rest on a thoughtful foundation designed to produce an environment that is conducive to learning. “We will place kids first, strive for excellence, provide quality customer service, encourage respect for one another, and operate with the highest level of integrity for every decision that needs to be made, said Meriweather.
Pillars and Objectives for the Academic Plan
The plan is organized around five Pillars of Excellence that are tied to specific objectives. Some of these include the following. For a full listing please see Executive Summary.
Literacy – Provide a continuum of learning, enabling individuals to achieve their goals. (Obj.) Develop competency based personalized learning. Implement a standards based instructional program.
Career Pathways – Provide students with a context for studying traditional academics and learning the skills specific to a career. (Obj.) Expand career pathways K-12. Design curriculum around career clusters. Integrate robust fine arts and STEAM programming, implement project based, experiential, and service learning throughout the curriculum.
Innovation – Encourage a shift in mindset of staff to be flexible, try something new, and explore new ways of thinking. (Obj.) Cultivate innovation at all levels of the organization. Extend the Proposal Process to solicit new academic programs.
Family & Community – Enhance and enrich positive relationships for all stakeholders. (Obj.) Create a cultural shift in relationship building and attendance. Focus on high level customer service and collaboration.
Wrap Around Services – Ensure every student receives appropriate support to elevate their social, emotional, and academic performance. (Obj.) Utilize a multi-tiered system of support for the academic, social and emotional needs of students. Partner with parents, agencies, and the community to support academic, social, and emotional needs of students.
Using the above pillars and objectives as guides, the district will evaluate the plan against the following long-term and short-term metrics:
- 10% increase in the number of students within one standard deviation of the national norm on the district’s benchmark assessment.
- 10% increase in the number of students meeting their individual student growth targets as measured by the district’s benchmark assessment.
- 100% of instructional staff will be offered professional development and coaching focused on increasing student literacy.
- 100% of high schools will offer Career Clusters.
- 100% of partnerships will be vetted and aligned to the academic plan.
- 90% of students, staff, and families will indicate a positive learning environment on districtwide surveys.
- 90% of partners will indicate that DPSCD is upholding our Five Foundations: Kids First, Excellence, Respect, Integrity, and Service.
- 10% decrease in the number of students that are Chronically Absent.
- 10% increase in the number of schools providing academic, social, and emotional supports.
Other features of the plan include a data dashboard that makes it easy for students, parents and the community to view information about the district’s academic performance. The dashboard will be rolled out during the second semester of the 2016-17 school year.
“All together this is a comprehensive initiative that will prepare our students to compete in the 21st century workforce,” said Rhodes. “To that end, we are hopeful that voters will pass the Regional Education Enhancement Millage on November 8, as it will provide a backdrop of continued financial stability for the district.”