Category: Achieve Written by Princess Hayes
“My son is reading everything now. He is reading at a sixth-grade level. His grades have gone up and he is a different kid now. His behavior has really improved and it’s due to the structure at the school.”
Parents and students are speaking enthusiastically about their experience with the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan (EAA), the new public system of schools whose mission is to change the paradigm for how education is delivered to urban students. The system opened in September 2012 with 15 of Detroit’s lowest-achieving schools.
There are many qualities of EAA direct-run schools that are different from traditional schools including longer school days and a longer school year, and the student-centered learning approach. But one of the most significant changes, according to many students and parents, is the leadership in the schools.
The EAA partnered with the Harvard University Graduate School of Education last year to conduct an extensive nationwide search for principals before the start of the school year. The same process was used in hiring teachers. With new leadership, students have not only grown academically but also behaviorally.
“The new structure at Brenda Scott is just tremendous,” said Sharon Reed-Thompson, a parent and volunteer at Brenda Scott Elementary/Middle School.
“My son completed third grade last year and couldn’t read. At the start of this year I said I would give the EAA structure a week and see how it went. It only took a week for me to realize what great things were going to happen for the students,” she added.
“My son is reading everything now. He is reading at a sixth-grade level. His grades have gone up and he is a different kid now. His behavior has really improved and it’s due to the structure at the school. The school couldn’t ask for a better principal, administrative staff or teachers. They are wonderful,” Reed-Thompson said.
Marques Stewart, Brenda Scott principal, said that he solicits feedback from parents and students often to get a full understanding of their perceptions.
“It is important to establish a positive culture from the start if we are really going to help our students learn. Establishing a positive culture has been one of our number one priorities as a staff through building relationships with students, parents and the community.
“Now that we have a more positive culture in place, student learning is on the rise and all students have taken ownership for their learning,” Stewart said.
It’s not only the staff and parents who are seeing changes. The students’ experiences have changed and they see their classmates behaving in a new way.
Faith Young, 12, said that the changes have helped her and other students learn more. “I see kids learning more and behaving better. Kids who misbehave get in trouble and the rest of us keep learning at our own pace,” Young explained.
Her classmate, Kannetha Stainback, 12, agreed that students’ behavior has transformed. “I’ve never seen teachers communicate with the kids before and they really do now. That makes it different because it keeps the kids under control. Mr. Stewart is always in the hallways making sure everyone is behaving. I didn’t see my old principal in the hallways,” she said.
Reed-Thompson said she has been a parent volunteer every year at the school but could only handle a few hours at a time of being in the school before.
“Now I’m there eight or nine hours a day. There are a lot of the same students that were there previous years but their behavior is so much better. I see it all firsthand when I am there. Mr. Stewart goes to the classrooms and observes the teachers and students. He talks with them in the hallway. And the rest of the staff cares just as much as he does. It wasn’t like that before.”
Changes are also visible at Nolan Elementary/Middle School where 33 percent of students already have shown a year or more growth in reading and math and suspensions have reduced 50 percent since last year.
Nolan Principal Angela Underwood said that her students, and parents, are engaged in what goes on at the school. The community proved that when they came together to remove nearly 39,000 pounds of trash from the school as part of a beautification effort. Underwood has established 65 community partnerships for Nolan and acquired 150 volunteer mentors that work with the parents and students.
The school also has 13 clubs that students may participate in each week during an exploratory period at the end of the day or after school, and they plan to add more programs in June.
“If a child who has been labeled as having special needs since his first experience in school walks up to me after taking an assessment with tears streaming down his cheeks and says ‘Ms. Underwood, I didn’t know I ever had it in me’ because he knows he has just shown two years academic growth in reading and math only six months into the school year, that is affirmation enough for me to know that what we are doing is worthwhile,” Underwood said.
Reed-Thompson said she recommends EAA schools to everyone after seeing her son grow so much since September. “I wouldn’t say that things are different. That doesn’t even begin to explain it. The way that the administration has been able to get a handle on things is remarkable,” she said. “This is a tremendous turnaround. I have never seen structure in a school like this before. I wouldn’t go anywhere else for my child’s education.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 May 2013 15:04
Category: Achieve Written by Princess Hayes
In areas where prospects and resources are limited, afterschool programs are often the only source of supplemental enrichment in literacy, nutrition education, technology and preparation for college entrance exams. Afterschool programs offer an effective and affordable way of overcoming obstacles confronting urban communities and helping children realize their full potential. In Detroit, DAPCEP, Junior Great Books and YouthVille are low-cost after-school programs that provide students with the knowledge and resources they need to get ahead.
DAPCEP is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides both in-school and out-of-school time educational experiences to over 4,000 youth per year in the Detroit area. DAPCEP students are between the ages of 5 and 18 and are in grades K-12. Generating excitement about STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) at a young age and increasing academic capacity is the key to growing the number of students who pursue STEMM degrees in college and ultimately fill the talent pipeline for metropolitan Detroit and the nation.
Through partnerships with eight Michigan universities, DAPCEP places these youths in university environments on Saturdays during the school year and in camp format during the summer. These opportunities allow youth to learn advanced STEMM topics while simultaneously adapting an “I can go to college because I’ve been to college” frame of mind. Qualitative skills are taught as well, including communication, networking, résumé writing, professional etiquette and time and resource management. For students at higher grade levels, DAPCEP offers ACT preparation, as well as workshops for both students and parents that focus on college application and financial aid processes. All students who attend public schools, charter schools, and private school are welcome to apply for DAPCEP programs. For more information about this program call (313)-831-3050 or visit www.dapcep.org.
The Great Books Foundation is a nonprofit educational organization whose mission is to advance the critical, reflective thinking and social and civic engagement of readers of all ages through Shared Inquiry discussion of works and ideas of enduring value. Since 1947, the foundation has helped people throughout the United States and other countries conduct discussion groups in schools, libraries, community centers and other venues.
Great Books K-12 programs are proven to increase student achievement. With consistent program use, you’ll see student gains in reading comprehension, critical thinking and writing. Whether students are gifted, at-risk or somewhere in the middle, Great Books K-12 programs produce measurable results. The National Staff Development Council, now known as Learning Forward, reviewed the Junior Great Books program and cited it as an effective, content-specific development program that increases student achievement.
Junior Great Books book clubs meet two times a month to help students in grades 1-12 increase their reading comprehension skills. Morning sessions for grades 1-7, afternoon sessions for grades 8-12. The program runs from September-December. Students must read the assigned story at home to be prepared to discuss the story at each book club meeting. For more information about this program call (313) 481-1300.
The Detroit Youth Foundation (DYF) was formed in 1999 as an outgrowth of a previous initiative of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Initially, DYF focused on engaging youth, their communities and organizations that assisted in fostering positive youth development and community change. This was accomplished by re-granting dollars to organizations for program activities to work directly with youth on leadership building and philanthropy (grant making). Such collaborative efforts worked to improve outcomes for youth. As DYF transitioned to a separate foundation, funding needs were met entirely by the Kellogg Foundation.
In recent years, DYF moved toward change making versus grant making to impact youth developmental outcomes. To create this change, DYF implemented a conceptual and program model called YouthVille Detroit. The goal of this model was to create a safe place for youth by providing program opportunities and personal support. This model was developed in consultation with several youth and family organizations, some of which later became tenant partners in the YouthVille Detroit facility.
YouthVille Detroit is more than a youth center – it is a concept, a new approach to developing youth and enhancing their well-being. YouthVille Detroit is the culmination of Dr. Smith’s lifelong commitment to positive youth and community development. For more information about this program call (313) 309-1300 or visit www. youthvilledetroit.org.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 May 2013 15:11
Category: Achieve Written by Princess Hayes
Parents have more schools choices than ever, and that should be a good thing.
But how good a thing that is depends deeply on two things: the quality of choices available and how informed the parent population is.
School choice is only a choice if parents are making informed options between quality schools. I say that as someone who attended eight schools growing up in Detroit. But it wasn't because my mom was always making well informed choices, hopping from underperforming schools to better ones. No, it was due mainly to the transient nature of our lives. As my mother found new work or better rent, we moved, and whatever neighborhood school was nearby was where I ended up.
Today, there are still many Detroit families who change schools because of choices that have little to do with academic options. But the fact is that parents today do have more responsibility and opportunity to do better and consider
than families 30 years go. The debate must extend beyond public or private, or public or charter. The truth is there are good schools - and very poor schools - in any model you consider. We should place children and their outcomes at the center and frame the debate around quality; then we should support schools that deliver it and help parents find those schools.
Our Foundation, which has worked in Detroit schools for more than 25 years, works with Detroit Public Schools, the Education Achievement Authority, various public charter schools and private schools. Our interest is the same as parents: we want children to have the best education possible to them. So we place more value on what results the schools deliver than to who runs the schools.
We encourage parents to do the same. We work to support measures that help schools of all types increase quality, from the public schools that educate
just under half of the city's children, to the newest charters. And we believe all schools should be held accountable by making available relevant and comparable data on how they're doing. That's becoming more common in Detroit, with the work of organizations like Excellent Schools Detroit, which released a report card on the best and worth K-8 schools, based on MEAP scores, this week. A fuller
report is coming this summer.
As parents, we must think about these things when making a decision about where to send your child: What is the school's academic track record? We have found schools that do academics well typically do support services and safety well, too. Next, question the marketing promises schools make and do your own research.
The Detroit marketplace is saturated with schools not at full capacity; they want your child in a seat. Make sure what they sell you about themselves stacks up to realty by visitingwww.excellentschoolsdetroit.org. Also, apply early.Because there aren't enough high-quality schools, spots in these schools go fast.
Think about how the school is preparing students for a future that is more and more technologically driven. And finally, don't be discouraged - if you
need help, ask for it. Try a resource like the Detroit Parent Network, an organization that helps parents cut through the clutter and understand what options are available.
Tonya Allen is the Skillman Foundation chief operating officer and incoming president.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 May 2013 14:47
Category: Achieve Written by Princess Hayes
If my child is expelled from Detroit Public Schools, can he/she attend another public school? Students expelled from Detroit Public Schools cannot attend any other public school in the State of Michigan unless it is a school for expelled children. Currently, the school for expelled students is Blanche Kelso Bruce.
What is a High School Middle College?
It is collaboration between a high school district and a community college to allow high school students to complete their high school diploma requirements, sharpen their skills and get a head-start on college work while they are in high school. Detroit Public School (DPS) students will take a combination of core high school and college courses in order to receive their diploma, transferable college credits and/or an Associate Degree.
Does my elementary school aged child qualify for corner bus stop service?
Most regular education elementary pupils are within walking distance of their schools. School bus transportation will be provided to students (K-5) who live three-quarters of one (¾) mile or more from their neighborhood school.
School bus service will be available for most middle school students (6-8) living one and one-half miles or more from their neighborhood schools. When school bus transportation is not available, bus cards will be furnished.
My son has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Can he attend a public school?
Schools throughout DPS serve students with special needs. The district also offers center-based schools to serve specialized populations. We work to ensure their access to and participation in the varied opportunities DPS provides.
This access to instructional and other support services will result in every individual maximizing their potential to successfully participate in school, work, and community life.
Do all DPS Schools offer free lunch?
DPS provides free, fresh cooked food items to all students in grades K-12 through our Heat & Serve program, where meals are heated, served fresh and hot on site to students in every school. Our menus include a healthy array of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole wheat /whole grain breads and pizza, lower fat and sodium meat/meat alternate options (Turkey Burgers, Turkey Meatballs, Grilled Chicken), 100% fruit juices, and 1% or fat free milk.
How long does my child receive make-up work when he/she is suspended?
A student recommended for an administrative transfer is entitled to make-up work until the student’s placement is completed. A student charged with an offense, which results in an approved long-term suspension, is entitled to make-up work until the long-term suspension is approved. A student charged with an expulsion review offense is entitled to make-up work until a final decision is made by the expulsion hearing officer.
What is the Wade H. McCree Jr., Incentive Scholarship Program?
The Wade H. McCree, Jr. Incentive Scholarship Program for ninth graders began as a pilot program in 1985 with seven colleges participating as scholarship sponsors. The program is designed to provide certainty of opportunity to attend college. The scholarship program offers a full tuition grant upon the ninth grade student’s successful completion of a four-year college preparatory curriculum with a minimum B (3.0) average while in high school and a composite score of 21 or better on the American College Text (ACT). In order to participate, students and their parents must sign an agreement which states that they will meet the performance standards of the scholarship program delineated in the Student/Parent Contract.
For more information about Detroit Public Schools visit
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 May 2013 16:01
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