DPS to expand instructional time in math, reading to 90 minutes for K-8 grades under Academic Plan this fall

Under Detroit Public Schools’ five-year academic plan, which will be rolled out this fall, instructional time in reading and math will be expanded to 90 minutes daily in every kindergarten through eighth-grade class.

For most students, that will mean a dramatic increase in exposure to these two core subject areas. For parents, it means that regardless of which school their child attends, they will have access to a rigorous academic curriculum.

The increased instructional time will build on the success of the district’s Summer Academy and Extended Day programs, which increased access to math and literacy courses and have allowed thousands of struggling students to catch up to their peers.

The academic plan, which aims for a 98 percent graduation rate by 2015, also calls for struggling ninth graders to be scheduled back-to-back Algebra I and English Language Arts courses – called double dosing – to strengthen those skills.

“The added classroom time in reading and math is essential to raising the level of achievement for many of our students,” said DPS Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb. “The academic emergency that exists in DPS demands nothing less than a focused, strategic approach that
includes a greater emphasis on those subjects.”

As part of the academic plan, many DPS teachers will return to classrooms this fall equipped with new skills and, in some cases, new technology to help them raise the bar for student achievement. Teachers are being trained in a variety of techniques specific to the subjects and grade levels they instruct. Among them are:

– Every ninth-grade Algebra I teacher will be trained on the TI Navigator, a handheld web-enabled device that reinforces concepts and will allow teachers to instantly assess student understanding of subject matter. Each of the 200 teachers being trained will receive the full system, which includes a laptop and handheld units for every student.

– Seventh- and eighth-grade teachers at every summer school site – about 100 teachers — are receiving training in Reading Comprehension instruction, while about 600 K-6 teachers are receiving intensive training in Beginning Reading instruction. Both sets of teachers are learning strategies to help their students develop strong reading comprehension skills.

– K-8 teachers from 15 district schools are receiving graduate-level training though the University of Pennsylvania as part of the Penn Literacy Network. The program teaches them how to incorporate literacy instruction in all content areas by changing the way they design lesson plans.

The district plans to fund at least one literacy coach for every school, ensuring equal access to continued instructional support for teachers. In the past, coaches were not always funded at the district level, so many schools hired them individually or had none.

DPS will continue to offer professional development for teachers this fall, including opportunities for teachers who missed the summer training opportunities. Some teachers also will receive follow-up training in the courses they received this summer. In addition, every K-8 teacher will receive reference manuals to help keep their skills sharp.

– Nearly 200 teachers at 15 schools in the Catapult Learning program are receiving training this summer in literacy, math, classroom management and skills for serving special-needs students.

– About 700 K-8 teachers are being trained this summer in Learning Village, a curriculum management program that will be used in grades Pre-K through 8 starting this fall. The web-based portal will allow teachers to manage curriculum, view assessments and track student achievement, among other things. Every pre-K teacher will be trained in the program this fall.

– About 100 high school science teachers are receiving Discovery Science training to boost their instructional skills.

To learn more about the DPS academic plan, please visit: www.detroitk12.org/academicplan

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