Category: Community Written by C.L. Price
Dramatic changes in academic scores and physical improvements are changing the way we look at Detroit Public Schools
Detroit Public Schools has transformed its educational system. Moving far beyond simple cosmetic improvements, the 97-school system is delivering dramatic improvements in educational quality.
Its progress is raising the interest, attention and expectation of groups once thought to have written off the state’s largest urban school district.
The district has garnered top rankings for its schools by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and Excellent Schools Detroit, two of the most independent and respected entities in the state, which recognized its rising MEAP results, graduation rates and test scores.
Detroit Public Schools (DPS) administrators undeterred by the applause, accelerated efforts to completely turnaround each and every school’s performance.
“Detroit Public Schools’ goal is to ensure that every child is successful, and we are doing everything in our power to make that happen,” said Karen Ridgeway, superintendent of Academics. “Our test score gains, rising graduation rates and school honors are tangible proof we are making significant progress.”
And there’s much more ahead, according to Ridgeway who is confident that the addition of new arts and music enrichment programs for elementary and middle schools students, broad community school programs to make schools the “service hubs in their community,” 46 new Pre-Kindergarten classes, new Career Academies and other academic enhancements will make DPS one of the top educational leaders in the state.
The changes are all a part of the district’s 5-year Strategic Plan, which includes improving test scores used to measure student achievement.
The positive momentum for DPS included record gains on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) Test for the fall of 2012, with improvement in 17 out of 18 assessments. DPS increases outpaced statewide progress, “closing the gap,” in 14 out of 18 assessments administered.
Gains were especially significant in reading and mathematics.
In reading, students made gains ranging from 3 percent to 11.3 percent in all grades 3 through 8. One particularly impressive result is that DPS students bested their statewide peers in grade 8 reading by 7.1 percent. In mathematics, improvement in students’ proficiency ranged from .5 percent to 6.7 percent in grades 3 through 8. Gains were also seen in science, writing and social studies in all grades, except one.
“These gains aren’t due to any one silver bullet,” Ridgeway said. “They are due to a comprehensive academic plan that includes robust professional development for our teachers and all academic staff, constant data analysis and regular alterations to teaching strategies to meet the needs of every child individually.”
Detroit Public Schools’ high school graduation rate also increased 5 percentage points for 2012, bringing the rate to 64.74 percent, the highest rate since 2006, while closing the gap with statewide rates by greater than 3 percentage points. The district’s dropout rate also decreased by nearly a point to 19.38 percent.
Detroit Public Schools seniors also scored $146 million in student grants and scholarships in the 2012-13 school year.
DPS Schools Honored
In addition to improving graduation rates and rising MEAP scores, DPS saw many of its neighborhood-centered, quality schools honored for their achievement in 2013.
Eight Detroit Public Schools were ranked among the best elementary-middle schools in the state by Mackinac Center for Public Policy with Thirkell Elementary School named the state’s highest rated elementary school.
Two Detroit Public Schools — Thirkell and Davison — were among the top eight in the state of Michigan, and two DPS-authorized charters were among the top 10 schools in the state — Ross-Hill Academy and Martin Luther King Jr. Education Center.
Additional DPS schools in the Top 100 recognized were:
• Ronald Brown
• Burton International
According to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “although about 90 percent of Thirkell’s students are from low-income households, 84 percent of fifth-graders scored proficient on the MEAP mathematics and reading tests in 2012. Thirkell students, on average, did far better on the MEAP than the state average. Adjusting for student background makes Thirkell’s success even clearer.”
Guests at the assembly to honor the schools also experienced Thirkell City, the result of a year-long, all-student hands-on educational project that resulted from research, writing and creating a 3-D city that spans the school.
Thirkell Elementary is an example of the tremendous impact a first-class leader can have on a school’s performance, according to Audrey Spaulding, Mackinac Center’s director of Education Policy who authored the study.
Detroit Public Schools also scored 12 of the city’s 20 top-performing kindergarten through eighth-grade schools, according to a report issued by Excellent Schools Detroit in April 2013.
In another ESD report on school organization affecting student progress, more than half of all DPS schools were rated as “well organized,” with Davison the best in DPS and Edison, Carson, Bennett, Chrysler, Clippert, Coleman Young, DSA, Gompers, Hutchinson @ Howe, Maybury, Nichols, Pasteur and Clemente ranking highly.
How They Do It
Asked how Davison, a neighborhood school, is listed by Excellent Schools Detroit as the fourth highest achieving Detroit Public School of any type based on student success in reading over the most recent three-year period, Principal Dianne Holland, who has been at the school since 2003, says simply, “We work with the whole child. Whatever the need is, we look at it and try to make it happen. We don’t see differences. We just see students, families and staff.”
A visit to Davison on any school day demonstrates ample evidence that this is a school of excellence teeming with support programs and a warm, welcoming, bright and colorful learning environment serving an unusually diverse set of African-American, Bangladeshi, North African, Arabic and Polish students, plus a sizable special needs population.
When making the announcement of the school rankings, Excellent Schools Detroit urged parents considering school options to attend the schools they listed as top performers.
To determine the rankings, Excellent Schools Detroit reviewed this year’s MEAP performance and year over year MEAP performance of 126 kindergarten through eighth-grade schools. The 31 new or turnaround kindergarten through eighth-grade schools in Detroit were not included in the analysis, as the study considered performance changes over time. The rankings were based only on this year’s and year-over-year performance on the Michigan standardized test, the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP).
Excellent Schools Detroit also released the eight schools at the bottom of the barrel that parents should avoid.
“In order for the education of our children to move forward in Detroit, we need to leave some schools behind. If your child is in one of these bottom eight schools, you should move them to one of the top 20,” Dan Varner, CEO of Excellent Schools Detroit, said at the time of the release. “Excellent Schools Detroit is committed to keeping our community informed about the quality of Detroit’s schools so that more kids go to better schools.”
Teachers and staff at schools across many high-ranked Detroit Public Schools say that making schools a success in a community effort.
Principal Holland uses the terms “family” and “collegiate” interchangeably in describing Davison’s culture of learning.
Support and enrichment programs at Davison are completely weaved into the school day (“I don’t like programs that are just before and after school,” Holland states). All programs include students in the planning, are equally divided with responsibilities going to every staff member, and they don’t fall apart when even long-time members of the teaching staff retire.
“Staff will do all kinds of things to increase student achievement,” the principal said in explaining the uniquely collaborative, team-like commitment that Davison School’s teachers and staff have to serving students and maintaining long-term support programs. “You come to Davison and it’s not work. It’s a wonderful place to be, and we have fun.”
Dramatic changes in academic scores and physical improvements are changing the way we look at
Detroit Public Schools
Detroit Public Schools scored 12 of the city’s 20 top-performing kindergarten through eighth-grade schools, according to a report issued by Excellent Schools Detroit in April 2013. The top DPS schools in the report included:
• Thirkell (#1 overall)
• Burton International
• Bates Academy
• Charles Wright
The Detroit Public Schools Difference
Detroit Public Schools’ announcement of its intent to create Centers of Excellence — in every school in every neighborhood — is creating interest among area parents. According to DPS officials, educational advantages of the centers include:
■ Individual Learning Maps for every student at 97 Detroit Public Schools
■ 215 Pre-K classrooms at 70 Detroit Public Schools
■ Art & Music enrichment for every elementary and middle school student
■ A “12/7” Community Schools Model which extends school services to 12 hours per day, 7 days per week
■ A New Parent University and other new/
expanded parent programs
■ A Customer Service mandate aimed at
exponential improvement of parent/student/school communication.
■ Multilingual programs featuring 7 different language program and robust ESL programs
■ Take-home Netbooks for students in grades 8-12 (with parental consent) and accessible for all students in grades 6 and up
■ New and majorly-renovated state-of-the-art school buildings along with millions of dollars in school building improvements district-wide
■ Enhanced safety and security enhancements in schools and throughout the district
■ Transportation, free healthy meals and a focus on safe routes to schools
■ $146 million+ in grants and scholarships for 2013 grads
Open Doors Day
DPS will host a city-wide Open Doors Day event on Aug. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All DPS schools will be open for parents to come in and check out what’s happening at area schools and to meet DPS principals and teachers . To learn more about enrollment in DPS visit:
Last Updated on Monday, 19 August 2013 08:24
Category: Community Written by Michigan Chronicle Staff
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced today that Abby Wetherell, 12, was injured Thursday by an attack by a black bear in Wexford County, north of Cadillac. Abby was airlifted to Munson Medical Center where she underwent surgery and is in stable condition and under observation. She suffered deep lacerations in her thigh.
Conservation Officers Sam Koscinski and Holly Pennoni from the DNR were quickly on scene following the attack, which occurred shortly after 9 p.m. in Haring Township. Abby, who lives in Haring Township, was returning from a cabin down a two-track road when she caught sight of a bear. She began to run in hopes of reaching nearby homes. The bear attacked and clawed her. Abby was able to get to her feet and ran again. The bear caught up with her and attacked a second time. She shouted for help and a neighbor heard her and ran to her aid calling her name. This startled the bear and the bear ran off.
The DNR is actively searching for the bear by setting traps in the area of the attack. When found the bear will be euthanized and tested for disease. The DNR is asking the public to be mindful of the department’s efforts to capture the bear and stay clear of the area where the attack occurred. If a bear is sighted, please contact the department’s Cadillac Operations Service Center at (231) 775-9727. You can also contact the DNR’s Report All Poaching (RAP) Hotline, 800-292-7800.
Michigan has an estimated black bear population of 8,000 to 10,000 bears, with 90 percent of the population in the Upper Peninsula. There is an established bear population in the area of Wexford County where this attack occurred. The DNR reminds the public that black bears are generally fearful of humans and will usually leave if they become aware that people are present. Bear attacks on human beings are highly unusual, and in most cases occur because a sow is protecting her cubs. However, there is no evidence that cubs were present where this incident occurred.
Here are some important facts to remember when you are in an area where bears may be present:
To avoid surprising bears, travel in small groups and make noise.
If you encounter a bear, stand your ground and then slowly back away. Do not turn away. Do not show fear and run. Do not play dead.
Make yourself look bigger and talk to the bear in a stern voice.
Fight back if actually attacked with a backpack, stick, or bare hands.
Carry pepper spray, which has been shown to be effective in fending off bear attacks.
For additional information on living with bears, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/bear.
Last Updated on Friday, 16 August 2013 16:39
Category: Community Written by Nick Hopson
The Lions looked anything but dominant in their 24-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns. The offense failed to get anything going on their first three drives. After the Browns prevented a first down on the first three drives, the Lions were able to drive down for a 48 yard field goal by David Akers.
The offense seemed to be missing a spark. Reggie Bush showed his explosiveness on a few plays, catching the ball five times for 44 yards. However, his run game proved insignificant as he gained 15 yards on 8 carries.
It is important to remember that Calvin Johnson was out with a knee contusion. He was replaced by Patrick Edwards in the starting lineup. The undrafted, two year player out of Houston didn’t do much to improve his chances of making the team. He had an unimpressive three catches for 10 yards.
The rest of the Lions receiving core shared in Edwards struggles. No receiver had more than 22 yards besides Reggie Bush. The Lions still have a lot of work to do when it comes to finding the back end of their receiving core. Last week standout Matt Willis only had 3 catches for a lackluster 18 yards.
Brandon Pettigrew got a decent amount of snaps but failed to show anything new. He had three catches for 20 yards. He suffered one blatant drop. Pettigrew still seems to struggle with catching the ball in game situations. Even though he may not catch everything, he is still better than having former receiver Roy Williams who the Lions traded for the pick that they selected Pettigrew with.
It’s tough to put much stock in these preseason matchups. Everyone remembers the 2008 undefeated preseason that lead to the classic 0-16 season. While this is true, there were still some alarming takeaways from the disappointing game.
The Lions were whistled for eight penalties. This included three personal fouls in the first half. That is unacceptable. These penalties show a lack of focus. For the Lions to be successful they need to kick their old habit of personal fouls.
Besides the defensive line, the defense didn’t look very good. Brandon Weeden was able to throw for 117 yards and two touchdowns. The Lions need better consistency at corner and safety. Louis Delmas has still not seen any preseason action. The position battle for the third linebacker spot still seems to be undecided at this point. Neither Tahir Whitehead nor Ashlee Palmer seemed to stand out as the clear starter.
One positive is that the Lions didn’t suffer any devastating injures. The Browns lost some players in the victory including their rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo to a bruised lung. Other injured Browns included running back Dion Lewis (broken leg), guard Jason Pinkston (sprained ankle), tight end Gary Barnidge (sprained shoulder) and kicker Brandon Bogotay (groin).
Cameron Jordan seems to have emerged as a scoring threat for the Browns. He caught two touchdowns in the game. This is promising for a player who only caught one touchdown all of last year. Jordan is another converted basketball player tight end. His athleticism makes him a matchup problem for defenses. Don’t be surprised if he has a big season.
The Lions will look to turn it around Thursday against the New England Patriots.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 August 2013 11:42
Category: Community Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
Aug. 16, 2013 DTE Energy Foundation Announces Winners of Its Summer Jobs Program Video Contest Detroit – The DTE Energy Foundation wrapped up its 2013 youth summer jobs program and announced the winners of the “Coolest Thing About My Summer Job Experience” video contest.
Detroiters Richard McCall, 17, and Elijah Ramey, 16, won first- and second-place awards respectively. Both of the short videos captured the gratifying experience of helping to paint a mural in the middle of Detroit’s Brightmoor community. McCall and Ramey were employed by the College for Creative Studies over the summer as part of the Grow Detroit’s Young Talent program.
The foundation partnered with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, city of Detroit recreation centers, the Greening of Detroit and others to fund more than 500 summer and year-round jobs for teens and young adults in Detroit and other struggling communities. To view the McCall and Ramey videos and other contest entries, visit DTE’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/dteenergy.
Last Updated on Friday, 16 August 2013 16:29
Category: Community Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
LANSING, Mich. -- More abandoned and blighted residential structures in Michigan may soon meet the wrecking ball as the result of blight funding being introduced by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA).
MSHDA is accepting funding requests from CDBG non-entitlement local units of government for residential blight removal projects under the Community Development Division’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program. The CDBG program is federally funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
It’s open to cities, townships and villages of less than 50,000 in population, and non-urban counties that do not receive CDBG funding directly from HUD.
“This is a great opportunity for smaller towns to rid their communities of abandoned, blighted structures that cause safety concerns and drive down property values,” MSHDA Executive Director Scott Woosley said. “It’s the first time that standalone residential blight removal funding using CDBG grant dollars has been offered by MSHDA. This funding opportunity may not be offered again at a later date.”
The program will provide financial assistance to communities to make physical improvements to residential neighborhoods through blight removal of vacant residential single-family structures that are publically owned and/or formally designated as dangerous structures. The sites must be located in a CDBG low and moderate income area, block group or census tract and meet one of the following blight definitions: 1) considered a public nuisance according to local code or ordinance; 2) is a nuisance because of age, physical condition, or use; or 3) has had utilities, plumbing, heating or sewerage disconnected, destroyed, removed, rendered ineffective so that the property is unfit for its intended use.
The program also will focus on demolition of vacant blighted single-family residential property that falls within one of these categories:
In direct support of proposed investment of public or private funds including properties that will be redeveloped for residential use.
Directly adjacent to or across from recent public or private investment, proposed investment, or other assets designated as critical investments or institutions by state or local officials.
Critical for strategic redevelopment of a targeted area.
Supports the stabilization of neighborhoods with high rates of foreclosure prevention services and/or homeownership, and other tipping point neighborhoods.
Due to federal regulations, projects that have already started or previously obligated funds are not eligible.
All submissions must be postmarked by Friday, Aug. 16. For additional project requirements and information, visit http://www.michigan.gov/mshda/0,4641,7-141-5564_14770-310394--,00.html.
Last Updated on Friday, 16 August 2013 16:02
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