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DCPS Opens With Students Ready to Learn and Build on Previous Year Success

Sunday, August 25, 2013

DCPS Opens With Students Ready to Learn and Build on Previous Year Success

Contact: Melissa Salmanowitz | 202-535-1096

Today, 111 District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) opened with students ready to learn and teachers ready to teach. Building on the success from the historic gains made in the previous school year, more than 4,100 teachers began the school year in classrooms across the city. Thousands of students arrived to school buildings modernized and upgraded over the summer. For the 2013-2014 school year, DCPS will focus on engaging and motivating students and families, supporting and attracting highly effective educators and providing rigorous academic content with a focus on literacy. Schools are expanding successful programs and models that are helping students achieve, like the extended school day, the Flamboyan Family Engagement Partnership and arts, music, physical education and world language classes. Schools are also implementing new programs and creating new positions to support student achievement, such as blended learning and assistant principals for literacy.  

“After a school year where we saw unprecedented growth and achievement, I am thrilled to start what I am convinced will be our best school year yet,” said DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson. “We know what works in our schools, we’re growing what has been successful and we’re creating new programs to strengthen areas that need attention. I’m so excited to see what our principals, our teachers and our students will do. We are starting this brand new school year building on our successes and ready to learn!”

Building on What Works; Expanding Academic Offerings:

  • In total, DCPS invested approximately $5 million in additional curricular and teacher/student resources and technology to aide and improve instruction and learning in schools.  
    Forty-five elementary schools and education campuses received complete leveled libraries for small group literacy instruction. This infusion of teacher and student texts is intended to help teachers deliver small group literacy instruction more effectively and frequently. Coupled with the existing libraries, this means all DCPS elementary schools and education campuses will have a guided reading leveled library in their building.
  • Nine DCPS schools will participate in the extended school day program stemming from the success of the program last year, where schools who expanded their day had growth nearly triple that of the average DCPS school. The schools are CW Harris, Garfield, Nalle, Noyes, Orr and Simon Elementary Schools, Kelly Miller and Johnson Middle Schools and  Dunbar High School.  Expanding the school day allows schools to engage in more time on task, and gives teachers more time to teach. Instruction is delivered by the same content teachers that students are with during the day and there is no transition, maintaining the natural extension of the day.
  • Eight high schools will begin 9th grade academies to support and provide targeted resources to incoming, first-time freshman. The program is focused on supporting the academic, social and emotional needs of first-year ninth graders and is based on best practices, research and successful programs in other urban school districts.
  • Blended learning, which combines the best of face-to-face teaching with the best digital resources, is an instructional model now available in all DCPS schools. Last year’s DC-CAS results showed a strong correlation between students that received elementary math instruction in a blended model and improved gains in math proficiency. To continue that success, DCPS is significantly expanding blended learning opportunities for students.
    • DCPS is piloting two new blended learning literacy programs in a third of all schools to help students become proficient readers.
    • DCPS is also offering digital textbooks in five schools for science and social studies courses.
    • Three schools have embraced blended learning for all core content areas: Kramer Middle School, Ketcham and Randle-Highlands Elementary Schools. Many other schools are using a blended model for a significant portion of their instruction, such as math at Hart Middle School and the 9th grade academy at Anacostia High School.
    • Twenty-eight new special education classrooms will open this year across DCPS in all grade levels, supporting a variety of students with disabilities. A special focus has been put on refining the programs that support students with intellectual and learning disabilities and expanding the number of classrooms in our behavioral support program. In addition, behavior classrooms in high schools will be built to serve a full continuum of needs. Reading interventions will be available in all self-contained classrooms for the first time.
  • Six middle schools, up from three last year, will offer the Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM), including West Education Campus, Kelly Miller, Hardy, Stuart-Hobson, Sousa and Johnson Middle Schools.  The Schoolwide Enrichment Model leverages student interest, school resources, and faculty strengths to support creativity for students.  SEM creates challenging and high-end learning experiences for a range of students to help develop their own creativity by focusing on particular areas of interest.
  • Forty-five schools, three times as many as last year, will offer Junior Great Books, the highest quality of literature, for advanced readers.

Supporting Teachers and Principals:

  • Eleven schools will have brand new Assistant Principals for Literacy (APL) and Reading Specialists (RS). APLs will focus on boosting and improving literacy instruction, providing professional development to staff and building a community of life-long readers in schools.  RSs will work with struggling readers to provide additional support and instruction to improve reading skills. Both APLs and RSs will receive targeted monthly professional development to hone their skills and continue expanding their knowledge base as literacy experts.
  • DCPS is deeply invested in the success of first year teachers. In the 2013-2014 school year, in addition to access to all other district supports and resources, all first-year teachers in the 40 lowest performing schools will have the opportunity to receive intensive, weekly, one-on-one content-specific coaching and support from a DCPS master educator.  Coaching will focus on instructional planning, content delivery, classroom management, and classroom community. There are over 500 new teachers beginning in the 2013-2014 school year.
  • This year, the Office of Family and Public Engagement launched the Family Engagement Collaborative -- a year-long Professional Learning Community (PLC) where teachers gain family engagement strategies including relationship building Parent Teacher Home Visits. Over 60 teachers from 28 schools across the district participated in training this summer and started conducting home visitations with families.   
  • For the first time in DCPS history, 12 aspiring principals are serving in schools this fall as part of the Mary Jane Patterson Fellowship. Mary Jane Patterson Fellows were carefully matched with two DCPS principals and their schools. Fellows will serve two different schools, approximately one semester at each site. Fellows will engage in high-impact leadership development and receive high-quality support from their mentor. Fellows will also receive coaching and professional development as they apply newly acquired leadership skills.

New facilities:

  • With help from the Department of General Services, seven major modernization projects were completed over the summer to ensure students could arrive in beautiful new buildings for the start of school. These major modernizations include Cardozo High School, Dunbar High School, Hearst Elementary School, Mann Elementary School, McKinley Tech Middle School, Powell Elementary School and Stuart-Hobson Middle School.
  • Five schools, including Beers, Hendley, Ludlow-Taylor, Shepherd and Peabody Elementary Schools, received significant building upgrades over eight weeks this summer. These Phase 1 efforts consist of rightsizing classrooms, upgrading technology, with computers and interactive white boards, and internet connectivity, upgrading furniture, replacing wiring and pipes, transforming hallways and offices and enhancing ADA compliance.
  • Twenty five schools are also undergoing IT infrastructure upgrades through October, which will enhance the level of broadband access throughout the building. These upgrades will continue through 2015.
  • DCPS added new classrooms at six schools: Brightwood Education Campus, Janney Elementary School, Malcolm X @ Greene Elementary School, Jefferson Middle School, Takoma Education Campus and Wilson High School

Providing Resources and Keeping Students and Families Engaged:

  • To address parent and community safety concerns resulting from the 2012-2013 school consolidations, a multi-agency Neighborhood Consolidation Planning Group (DCPS, DDOT, MPD, DPR-Roving Leaders, Metro Transit) formed to establish safe passage routes for students to school.  Fourteen recommended routes were developed for families and students which feature specific supports, resources, and services around the receiving school neighborhoods, including crossing guards, additional signage and attention to the locations of neighborhood hot spots.  
  • District of Columbia Public Schools and the Flamboyan Foundation are growing their successful Family Engagement Partnership for the 2013-2014 school year, expanding the program to a total of 15 schools, including seven new schools. The partnership teaches schools and teachers to learn and implement strategies, including Parent-Teacher Home Visits, Academic Parent Teacher Teams and ongoing positive communications to enable families to better set high expectations and support learning at home. 6,238 students and their families stand to benefit from the Family Engagement Partnership.
  • This year, every student from kindergarten to fifth grade will have access to a world language, health and physical education, arts and music teacher. DCPS has also completely revamped and updated an arts curriculum for teachers to pace and map out their instruction. In addition to the teachers already in place, DCPS hired:
    • 41 new art teachers;
    • 46 new health and physical education teachers;
    • 40 new music teachers;
    • 68 new world language teachers.
  • A transition curriculum for students with disabilities was designed and released to include six pre-K through 5th-grade courses and 47 grade 6-12 courses. These courses will support students who are transitioning to elementary or middle school and to post-secondary opportunities.
  • DCPS has implemented new salad at five schools, including Burroughs, Kimball, Dunbar, Roosevelt and Cardozo. DCPS has also added new entrees to the school food menu, all of which were tested and approved by DCPS students throughout the summer, including reduced fat, low sodium sloppy Joes, spicy grilled chicken sandwiches in secondary schools, Cherry Blossom chicken and veggie fried rice and black bean tacos.
  • For the 2013-2014 school year, DCPS is expanding the Competitive Employment Opportunities (CEO) program to double the size and add an additional 20 students. The CEO program focuses on providing students with career exploration, soft skills training, goal-setting support and paid internship opportunities. New mentors and organizations will provide additional opportunities for these students in this successful program, which will begin in January.