Washington, D.C.’s public school system (DCPS)will be streamlined in the next five years into a system that will focus on improving academic achievement, increasing graduation rates and lengthening the school day—or possibly the academic year—while generating more student satisfaction, if D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray and District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Kaya Henderson have their way.
That would be the outcome of an ambitious five-year plan unveiled April 18 by the mayor and the chancellor. Under the plan, DCPS would:
* Increase District-wide math and reading proficiency to 70 percent while doubling the number of students who score at advanced levels of proficiency;
* Improve the proficiency rates for the 40 lowest-performing schools by 40 percentage points;
* Increase high school graduation rates from 52 percent to 75 percent;
*Ensure that 90 percent of DCPS students like the school they attend and
* Increase overall DCPS enrollment.
The plan also calls for a wide range of incentives, including, rewarding “highly effective” teachers and principals, provide professional development, invest in new advanced placement courses, making targeted technology investments and investing in an early warning system to help reduce the dropout rate.
“As I said in the State of the District Address in February, every child in every neighborhood in our city deserves the opportunity to gain a first-rate public education,” Gray said, introducing the proposal. “This plan will move us into the District’s next phase of school reform, building on our recent successes and capitalizing on the dramatic population and economic growth our city has seen in recent years.”
“These commitments support our goals for the next five years and the promises we have made to the District of Columbia, to our families and our students, and to all our stakeholders to provide the students of this city with a world-class education,” Henderson said. “Behind each of these goals are real, specific financial commitments that will help us build on the momentum we have seen over the past five years and move forward aggressively toward dramatic improvements.”
One piece of the plan that may prove to be controversial will be an extended school day and the closing of some campuses to help pay for the improvements. Henderson said a $10 million grant program will allow some schools to try a longer day on a trial basis. To make it effective systemwide, DCPS would need to review collective bargaining agreements, which Henderson said, do allow some flexibility on schedule adjustments.
The proposed DCPS budget for 2013 is $503 million, an increase from the current $490 million budget.