Back to public schools main page
Government and People
DC Public Schools
Friday, June 22, 2001
|Contact: Linda Wharton Boyd
or Denise Tann, 202-374-6117 (cell)
The first phase of the initiative involves transforming six elementary, one middle, one junior and one senior high school. Each school's administrative, instructional and support staff will be reassigned. A limited number of staff members may be selected to return to the school if they wish to reapply. New research-proven academic programs will be put in place, instructional resources will be enhanced and school facilities will be revitalized.
The nine schools identified for full transformation are Davis ES, Ward 7; HD Cooke ES*, Ward 1; LaSalle ES, Ward 4; Noyes ES, Ward 5; Simon ES, Ward 8; Turner ES, Ward 8; Kramer MS, Ward 6; RH Terrell JHS, Ward 2; and Phelps CSHS, Ward 5.
The schools considered for transformation in 2001-02 were those from the original list of 23 "targeted assistance" schools. While other schools in DCPS may have similar performance profiles, the schools selected for transformation were those that received additional resources and intensive technical assistance for the longest period of time (four years), yet still failed to make improvement. All schools that had been identified for targeted assistance in the years following the selection of the original 23, will be considered for transformation in the future. Also, all schools, regardless of performance or placement on the targeted assistance schools list, were considered for transformation based on evidence of a negative school climate.
Eight of the nine schools were identified based on the following criteria:
Dr. Vance stated that his yearlong assessment of the DCPS organization, management practice and facilities helped him to formulate a vision of what is needed to transform the entire system into one that works for all students.
The Children First Initiative will create a learning environment for students that includes safe, secure and healthy conditions in the schools; well-prepared teachers who will implement high quality instruction; wraparound services to help students be ready to learn when they arrive at school; rigorous coursework; and extended learning for all students who do not initially meet the challenging standards. All academic and other programs will be proven, research-based, best practices. The following are the components of the transformation initiative.
Principals will be appointed to the schools that are to be transformed by mid-July. Staff recruitment has already begun and staff selection will be finalized once each school's principal is appointed. Consequently, I have assigned interim principals to each of the nine schools to assure that they operate smoothly during this period. In addition, divisional assistant superintendents will closely monitor these schools throughout the summer until new staff is in place. Current employees who are not selected through the reapplication process will be assigned to a comparable position at another DCPS school without prejudice. Where applicable, building seniority will transfer with the employee. All staffing decisions are targeted for completion no later than August 1, 2001. Also, a Deputy Superintendent for School Transformation will be appointed to oversee the ongoing transformation process.
B. Academic Programs
There will be prescribed academic improvements for each transformation school. For example, all elementary schools will use the American Choice school reform model.
C. Parental Involvement
Parent input will be sought as transformation schools are restructured and re-staffed. The research shows that when families take part in their children's educational programs, their children do better in school. Family Resource Centers (FRCs) will be established in each transformation school as places where parents can get ideas about how to work with their child's teacher, volunteer in the classroom, and support their child's learning at home. FRCs will also give parents the opportunity to develop family activities that reflect the culture and language of their own family and community. The Family Resource Center will be an important component of our new and aggressive parent outreach program for transformation schools. The Family Resource Centers will facilitate parents, administrators and teachers working together to improve student achievement.
D. Community Partnerships
Informational briefings have been held with various community leaders and partners about the Children First Initiative. Their support has been offered for this initiative. The strategic use of community partnerships, especially in the provision of wraparound family and social services, is an important component of this initiative. We are going to engage business, civic and community organizations in support of the academic, operational, and business needs of each transformation school.
E. School Facility Improvements
The school facility improvements are designed to make visible improvements that will change the school environment. These changes will help create a positive first impression upon entering the building, will provide a bright and inviting atmosphere, and create an environment that supports learning in a safe and healthy school. Depending on the needs of the school, specific changes may include:
F. Family and Social Services
The strategic provision of wraparound family and social services available in the school district and other district agencies is instrumental to school transformation. Interagency onestop centers in schools for social, recreational, health, mental health, and other wellness services will be established through interagency collaboration and planning as a holistic approach to service delivery. The Department of Health, Department of Recreation, D.C. Public Libraries, Juvenile Court, Child and Family Services, Metropolitan Police Department, Department of Mental Health Services and all other agencies that provide services for students and their families have pledged their support as partners in this initiative. Wraparound services are designed to address issues that hinder the process of learning.
On the heels of Dr. Vance's first anniversary as the school's top chief, this plan is the first step in a dramatic move to improve the quality of education of students in the District of Columbia Public Schools. Dr. Vance introduced his plan in a May 25, 2001, memorandum to the Board of Education, on "Putting Children First: Creating Schools That Work." He committed the District of Columbia Public Schools to undertake major initiatives to improve our schools.
The initiatives, all part of our Business Plan for Strategic Reform, included transforming schools with a pattern of low performance, creating a "blue ribbon" panel to guide planning for reinventing all high schools, and replacing principals who have proven to be ineffective in leading their schools. In mid-July, a work session will be convened with the Board of Education and the Blue Ribbon Panel on Reinventing the District's High Schools. Dr. John Kovach, Associate Director, Temple University Laboratory for Student Success, has agreed to serve as executive director of the panel. The panel has held two meetings and is expected to conclude its work in November of this year.
"We are asking for the support of our partners in this ongoing process. Community support is very important to the success of our organization and the achievement of our children. We are staying focused on children and look forward to working with the entire community in implementing the Children First Initiative," said Dr. Vance.
*Footnote: HD Cooke was not on the original targeted assistance schools list.
Back to top of page
Send mail with questions or comments to email@example.com
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)