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Detroit Teachers Serve as Models for Resilience and Results

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    EL Education

A few years ago, Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) took a big bet on talent. Despite the city’s legacy of divesting in educators, the District’s new leaders believed that Detroit teachers have the power to chart a new future for the city’s children. As part of an ambitious five-year plan, leaders sought to forge a new legacy for the District: one where teachers received the trust, compensation, professional development, and resources to achieve their highest aspirations, and to deliver the learning opportunities students need to succeed.

“I am often asked what is the most important strategy that can be leveraged to improve Detroit Public Schools Community District, or public education in general. My response is: make teaching and teachers the most important priority in educational reform." Dr. Nikolai Vitti, DPSCD Superintendent

Only two years into the five-year plan, Detroit teachers are delivering on the investment in their talent. Students’ 2019 test scores showed the greatest single-year improvement on state tests (M-STEP) in the history of the exam. Students improved over 2018 results across all tested grade-levels in English/Language Arts. Even more encouraging, the District’s proficiency improvement compared to last year outpaced the state’s in all but one grade, which differed by less than 0.1. After adopting a new curriculum and systematic support, Detroit public schools have emerged as models for resilience and results. 

“There was nothing random about this improvement. Instead, this is what occurs with strategic and deliberate reform based on best practice,” said Dr. Vitti. 

The reform not only included district-wide adoption of the top-rated EL Education K-8 Language Arts curriculum, but also included EL Education coaches supporting teachers in a group of model schools to build the expertise of DPSCD teachers to lead implementation in their own buildings.

Through their dedication and ingenuity, Detroit teachers inspired improvement across the district and helped thousands of students reclaim their right to literacy.

The story of transformation doesn’t end there. On August 21st, 30 teachers and Master Teachers from DPSCD stepped up to support EL Education in preparing more than 4,000 educators in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) to successfully implement the EL Education curriculum in 2019-20. Detroit educators took their talent on the road, serving as teacher leaders co-facilitating professional learning in Charlotte, to ensure that teachers and students beyond their city would benefit from their experience and expertise.

“I feel very optimistic about the curriculum, the teachers of Charlotte, and most importantly, the students. They will all have a brighter future in reading because of the newly adopted EL Education curriculum." Detroit Teacher Leader, DPSCD

At the September 17th, 2019, DPSCD board meeting, Superintendent Vitti honored the 30 teachers who supported the Charlotte professional development. The dedication of DPSCD teachers to learning their new curriculum has helped narrow literacy achievement gaps for thousands of students in Detroit, and if their visit to Charlotte is any indication, has the power to inspire other literacy partners and districts throughout the country, ensuring that more students than ever before experience the educational opportunities they deserve.