City of Wilmington Schools Become Priority Schools

September 18th, 2014

Category: News

The Delaware Department of Education recently named six City of Wilmington Schools as “Priority Schools”: Bancroft Elementary; Bayard Middle; Stubbs Elementary; Warner Elementary; Shortlidge Academy; and Highlands Elementary.

These schools are located in the Christina and Red Clay Consolidated School Districts. Collectively, they serve approximately 2,000 elementary school students and 500 middle school students. Each of these schools serve majority low income (86-96%), and racial/ethnic minority (80-95%) student populations. Each of these schools fall far below state assessment (DCAS) averages (72% reading and 69% math).Priority Schools 2014

Priority School” is a designation defined under federal waivers for the Elementary and Secondary Act. In accordance with Delaware’s approved ESEA waiver (2014), Delaware generated a list of schools that fall among the lowest 5% of Title I schools in the state, based on achievement on DCAS, with a demonstrated lack of progress over the past two to three years.

Priority Schools will share more than $5 million over four years to implement school- and district-developed, state-approved plans for improvement. The funding comes from several sources including federal School Improvement Grants and remaining Race to the Top resources.

The 2014-15 school year will be a planning year. During this planning year, each school district will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Delaware Department of Education, providing school leaders with increased autonomy and flexibility in exchange for additional accountability. Subsequently, the schools and districts will work to develop and submit a plan to the Secretary of Education for state approval. Priority School improvements would go into effect in the 2015-16 school year.

When the first round of Priority Schools was named in 2012, there was a lot of overlap with the Partnership Zone (PZ) schools, which had previously been identified to implement school improvement models included in Delaware’s Race to the Top plan in 2010-11.

Nearly all of previously named Priority Schools and Partnership Zone Schools have exited PZ/Priority schools status by reducing their student achievement gaps. However, as noted at last month’s State Board of Education accountability presentation, success remains mixed as many of these schools significantly raised student proficiency by 10-30 percentage points in ELA and Math, but remain below state average proficiency. Additional resources on the latest round of Delaware Priority Schools include the FAQ, Turnaround Guide, and blank Memorandum of Understanding. For more information regarding Delaware school and performance data, refer to the online school profiles.

Liz Hoyt



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