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DCPS Makes Major Investment to Enhance Student Learning

Wednesday, December 11, 2013
New Supplies and Materials in Schools Will Support Libraries, Literacy, Technology and Music

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) made significant school-level investments in October and November to support teaching and learning. The investments, including computers, tablets, library collections, musical instruments, teacher supply cards, Metro cards, cafeteria tables, and others, were delivered to schools over the past month.

In total, more than 85,000 books, 4,000 musical instruments and 2,000 computers, among other equipment, were delivered to schools to help meet the goals outlined in A Capital Commitment, DCPS’ plan to improve all schools by 2017. To make these purchases, DCPS used unspent funds from the previous fiscal year that were available due to unfilled personnel vacancies and reduced benefits costs.

“Our money belongs in our schools and our students and educators deserve the best,” said DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “When we realized these funds would be available, we came up with a thoughtful and strategic plan to make purchases that would both help our students learn and achieve, and support our teachers with new, modern equipment and supplies. The action at DCPS is in the classroom and that’s where we’re putting our resources.”

Investing in Literacy and Libraries:

To support DCPS' focus on literacy in the 2013-2014 school year, the school system used the available funds to purchase thousands of library books and materials, including new library collections for Anacostia High School, Kramer Middle School, and McKinley and Cardozo Education Campuses. Additionally, every DCPS school received new books, eBooks and periodicals. At the middle and high school levels, new books include high-interest, current and curriculum-aligned titles, which students want to read, and eBooks that offer new formats and access. These library books also are “shelf ready,” which means they are automatically included in the library catalog in every school.

This is the first library resource infusion for high and middle schools in recent history. In addition, DCPS made a significant investment in library materials and periodicals, and in the adult STAY and alternative high school programs. By making this investment, DCPS has updated the average publication age in schools and provided high-interest materials, which will lead to increased circulation and stronger readers.

"During our discussions last year about school consolidations, I committed to improving our libraries, and I am proud to say that we have delivered on that promise," Henderson said. "Schools across the District have responded positively to this infusion of resources. I am excited to see what talented teachers and eager students will do with these materials and technology."    

DCPS also delivered 825 Nook e-readers to 40 teachers at DCPS elementary schools. The Nooks were pre-loaded with award-winning novels that correspond with the fourth-grade DCPS Advanced Readers Extensions curriculum. This curriculum is a series of lessons and reading activities designed by DCPS experts for teachers to use with advanced and high-ability students during the guided-reading section of the literacy block.

Investing in Music:

DCPS made a deliberate decision to ensure students have access to quality music programs. To help support this effort, five Disklavier pianos, often called the player piano of the 21st century, were delivered to Ballou, Duke Ellington, McKinley, Wilson and Woodson high schools. This piano offers the very latest Internet and digital technologies that will allow schools to offer master classes, one-on-one lessons, and concerts. By teaming the Disklavier with online video and audio applications, schools can connect to other schools that use the same technology and access additional content provided through Yamaha. Piano instruction via master classes, one-on-one instruction, or concerts can be presented live to students without them having to leave the building. Yamaha has committed to offer their pre-recorded content as well as new classes and live concerts for this project on a regular basis.

DCPS also purchased and delivered a variety of musical instruments for elementary school students. These purchases support DCPS’ goal of equity and excellence for all music education programs in the district. DCPS strives to provide consistent, sequential music instruction, music experiences, and integration of music across curricula for all students. This also includes setting a high bar for all students to achieve high standards through rigorous, sequential, continuous, comprehensive education in and through music.

In this purchase, DCPS delivered more than 1,400 instruments, including contra-bass bars, bass/alto/soprano xylophones, bass/alto/soprano metallophones, congas, bongos, gongs, sand blocks, slapsticks, hand drums, tambourines, triangles, cowbells, afuches, guiros, claves, maracas, wood blocks, cymbals, castanets, ratchets, vibraslaps, sleigh bells, wrist bells.

To support middle and high school students, DCPS worked with schools to determine their current needs and in order for to support their music programs. DCPS purchased more than 1,800 band and orchestra instruments, including piccolos, flutes, clarinets, alto saxophones, tenor saxophones, baritone saxophones, baritone horns, trumpets, trombones, euphoniums, tubas, French horns, mellophones, sousaphones, xylophones, orchestra bells, drum sets, marching drums, woodwind reeds, brass mouthpieces, repair kits, cases, and amplifiers.

"What is most thrilling about these new resources is the excitement and new learning it will help infuse into our classrooms,” said Brian Pick, chief of the Office of Teaching and Learning. “These learning tools will create a new level of high-quality engagement for our students and our teachers."

Technology Overhaul and Additional Materials:

As part of the school system's technology overhaul and refresh, DCPS also used the available funds to purchase nearly 2,000 new desktop computers for schools. DCPS also purchased equipment to create mobile computer labs, including 25 carts that store 30 laptops each, and 19 iPad carts that contain 30 iPads each, for a total of 1,320 laptops and tablets.

Additionally, DCPS purchased and delivered math, science and arts supplies. For science, for example, schools received equipment and kits for delivering inquiry-based science instruction in the Earth, life, and physical sciences in grades K-12. The materials schools received lab glassware, microscopes, dissection kits, triple-beam balances and goggles. High schools also received lab kits for AP Biology.

For art, four new digital art labs will be launched at School Without Walls @ Francis-Stevens, School Without Walls, Truesdell Education Campus and Ballou High School. This investment includes computers, cameras, tripods, headphones and software. These schools and three others, Wilson and Coolidge High Schools and Takoma Education Campus, will receive supplies to launch digital photography departments. Other art supplies were delivered to schools including document cameras, projectors, color printers, and point-and-shoot cameras for documenting artwork in classrooms.

DCPS will continue to target resources to reach the goal outlined in A Capital Commitment and is currently soliciting feedback from the community for the upcoming budget. For more information about the upcoming budget, click here.