June 14, 2010

DCPS Begins 2010-2011 Federally Mandated School Improvement Process 


Contact: Jennifer Calloway | (202) 535-1096

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WASHINGTON, DC – District of Columbia Public Schools’ (DCPS) mission is to ensure that every student in the system attends a great school, and that every school meets high standards in all areas that affect student achievement. When schools consistently underperform over a period of time--in addition to the on-going efforts--DCPS is required by federal law to take drastic action to improve the schools. This year, to meet the federal requirements, DCPS will reconstitute six schools, and one school will also gain an external partner.
"It's critical that we continue to improve our supports of struggling schools. Every neighborhood school should be a place where students can receive a high quality education," said Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. “And when schools do not meet these standards, we will work together and take aggressive measures.”


Reconstitution requires most staff and teachers to reapply for their current positions through an interview process with the school administration. As part of the U.S. Department of Education's tiered intervention approach, reconstitution allows strong school leaders to choose staff members who are committed to the academic initiatives and priorities of the school and who are both highly qualified and effective. Students benefit immensely when every classroom has an excellent teacher, and schools function better when their instructional staff is fully invested in the principal’s academic vision.
DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee said, “At DCPS we know that all children can achieve at high levels. Reconstitution is just one tool offered by the federal government for districts to use to equip schools with the necessary composition to meet high standards and to prioritize student achievement."

DCPS Begins 2010-2011 Federally Mandated School Improvement Process


Another option in the tiered intervention approach is to partner with an external organization to run a school. DCPS currently has two partnerships that began in SY2009-2010: Friends of Bedford at Dunbar Senior High School and Coolidge Senior High School, and Friendship Public Schools, at Anacostia Senior High School. All three schools have significantly improved their school culture, including growth in important indicators such as attendance and school safety.

Next year, DCPS will also partner with a new external organization, Philadelphia-based Scholar Academies to run Stanton Elementary School. Scholar Academies has a strong track record of achieving high levels of student learning with previously underserved students, from similar backgrounds.

The new partner participated in a rigorous application process that included a comprehensive proposal for turning around a DCPS elementary school, a panel presentation, and a DCPS site visit to Philadelphia. After Scholar Academies was identified as a strong turnaround partner, DCPS conducted an internal analysis to identify a DCPS school where Scholar Academies could be most effective.


One of the most important pieces of reconstitution is that it provides faculty and staff with options. If staff members choose not to reapply or are not rehired, they join an excess staff pool. DCPS Office of Human Resources will provide them with vacancy lists, transfer fairs, the assistance of staffing specialists and other supports. School leaders expect to conclude the interview process by June 17.
The reconstitution will be effective after the last day of school on June 22. These changes will not affect the rest of the current school year. DCPS will issue a Connect ED, an automated call system, this evening to notify parents at all six schools via phone, and a letter will go home with students.
DCPS will hold the first transfer fair on Saturday, June 19, at School Without Walls.


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