District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) will infuse more than $50 million in new, local funds to schools in the 2014-2015 school year, with a focus on middle-grade students, struggling schools, and improving student satisfaction. This increase, provided in Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s FY 2015 budget, will allow all DCPS middle schools, as well as the district’s lowest performing elementary schools, to have the opportunity for a longer school day next year. DCPS will also provide $5 million in funds to help schools improve student satisfaction, another key priority for DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson. Schools received their budget allocations on Wednesday. Regardless of enrollment, no schools’ budget decreased significantly , and most schools received an increase.
“This is a major step forward for everyone, everywhere in DCPS and in this city,” said Chancellor Henderson. “I feel so lucky to have the resources we need to deliver to our families everywhere in this city the kind of education that all of our students deserve. We still have work to do, but this budget takes us to a very different place for our students, our teachers and our families. I am thrilled about the work ahead.”
During the 2013-14 school year, nine of DCPS’ lowest performing schools implemented the Extended Day Program. Schools intensified their focus on literacy, mathematics or both. Students in Extended Day schools grew 10.6 percentage points in math and 7.2 percentage points in reading on the 2013 DC CAS, compared to 3.6 and 3.9 percentage points respectively for all students throughout the district.
Investing in Middle Grade Students
Since 2007, DCPS 7th and 8th grade students have shown greater improvement in academic outcomes than any other grade levels. Additionally, on the nationally administered Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), eighth grade students showed greater gains than any other participating school district in the nation since 2011. To build on this success, DCPS will invest significant resources to support middle grade students. Specifically, DCPS will offer middle grades the opportunity to extend the school day to 4:15, which will allow schools to offer more academic programming. Schools will have the opportunity to weigh in on this option, through the processes specified in the union contracts.
“Our teachers give so much every day in their classrooms – none of the successes we have seen are possible without them. We need their buy-in and their dedication to make a longer school day possible, and we look forward to the conversations we will have soon about this process,” said Henderson.
To ensure every middle grades student in every school has equal access to challenging classes, next year every DCPS middle school student will be able to take algebra, a foreign language, art, music, and physical education. DCPS will also provide funding to ensure schools can meet students’ social and emotional needs, a critical need during this transitional adolescent time in a student’s life. This means every school will have at least one guidance counselor, and funding will be available to support at least one additional staff member as part of a social and emotional team.
Lowest Performing Schools
“A Capital Commitment”, DCPS’ strategic plan to improve student achievement, has a specific goal to increase student achievement in the district’s 40 lowest performing schools by 40 percentage points. To support these schools and to meet these goals, DCPS will also offer an extended school day at the lowest performing elementary schools. In addition, DCPS will build upon the successful investments made to improve reading instruction during the 2013-2014 school year.
A key part of this work will also include bringing on additional staff and partners to schools to improve student reading and writing. Specifically, DCPS will provide funding for partnerships with successful non-profits and literacy organizations. Students in these elementary schools will also receive summer reading materials to prevent learning loss over the summer. Schools will receive support around improving attendance and school culture.
Additional Investments for Success
Two weeks ago, DCPS announced the new Proving What’s Possible Student Satisfaction Awards to help schools provide enrichment, anti-bullying, and field trips for students. Later this week, DCPS will announce details about the Proving What’s Possible Student Satisfaction Awards, including how schools will spend their funds.
The budget for the upcoming school year will drive more funding to schools than ever before. This will include investments to support other DCPS priorities, including increased staffing to address student needs and planning for new schools. These investments will allow DCPS to: