The Emergency Financial Manager today announced an unprecedented redesign strategy that will allow four educational partners with a proven track record of raising student achievement to spearhead an historic transformation of 17 of the district’s lowest-performing high schools.

Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb said that bold action was necessary to reinvent the district’s educational model and build centers of excellence in every school for every child in every neighborhood.

“These schools have been failing our students for too many years,” Bobb said. “We refuse to wait any longer,” he said at Central High School, one of the schools slated for redesign because it has not met federal achievement goals for six years. “Detroit Public Schools students deserve to have every option available to ensure their success.”

“We are confident that this redesign will ensure students have the tools they need to achieve excellence and compete against their peers in the best suburban districts,” he said. “This is what parents want.”

The educational partners overseeing the schools’ redesign are: New York-based Edison Learning, Cincinnati-based EdWorks, New York-based Institute for Student Achievement, and Bellevue, Washington-based Model Secondary Schools Project. These organizations will each have performance-based, multi-year contracts and will be monitored to ensure success.

The historic redesign of the high schools is part of a wider overhaul of 40 of the district’s schools, including every school that did not meet required federal goals, called Adequate Yearly Progress. Schools being redesigned were in Phase 4 or higher of AYP, meaning they did not meet federal goals for five years or more and were federally mandated to be overhauled.

Of the district’s 22 high schools, 17 – about three-fourths of the district’s high schools – will be redesigned with educational partners. These include Cody and Osborn high schools, which launched a planning process last year to create smaller, themed schools.

The schools to be redesigned are:

Central, Crockett, Henry Ford, King, Western, Cooley, Denby, Finney, Kettering, Mumford, Southeastern, Pershing, Detroit Tech, Southwestern, Cody, Northwestern, Osborn

Bobb, along with Dr. Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the district’s Chief Academic and Accountability Auditor, have been working with principals to select among several redesign programs. Each of the schools will be supported by a team of professionally-trained adults whose focus will be ensuring students are prepared for 21st Century learning.

“The redesign of our high schools with the purpose to dramatically improve teaching and learning for our students is core to the transformation of the district and takes us closer to ‘Building Centers of Excellence, in Every School, For Every Child, In Every Neighborhood,'” Byrd-Bennett said. “This model is designed to dramatically improve these historically failing schools.”

The educational partners will work with teachers and principals to strengthen and add rigor to the curriculum, align schools with 21st Century learning standards and help transform schools to be high achieving. The new models will be developed in partnership with the staff at each building.

About the partners:

Edison Learning, New York, founded in 1992 as the Edison Project, Edison Learning works to transform schools by using top talent, creating a school culture where students are engaged, having demanding content and customized instruction and establishing management that is achievement-driven. Last school year, Edison served more than 350,000 students in 24 states and the United Kingdom.

EdWorks, Cincinnati, has improved schools and impacted 25,000 students, while training more than 2,000 teachers through a multi-year leadership plan. EdWorks assists in transforming schools into small learning environments, emphasizes team-teaching and personalizes classroom instruction. Its Ohio schools’ graduation rates have improved by more than 30 percent.

Institute for Student Achievement, New York, which is working with 80 small schools and small learning communities that serve about 18,000 students, creates rigorous learning environments and personalized school communities and provides leadership and coaching. An analysis by The National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching, Teachers College, Columbia University shows that more than 70 percent of students in their affiliated schools pass math, English, social studies and science classes.

Model Secondary Schools Project, Bellevue, Washington, works with schools to improve instructional practices and provides assistance and coaching to redesign schools into small learning academies, ninth grade academies and other models. MSSP works mostly with low-achieving urban public schools with high poverty rates, including Cleveland, Ohio, Cincinnati, Ohio, Rochester, New York and Boston, Massachusetts.

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