Partnership Zone School (Round 2) Profile: Dover High School

September 9th, 2011

Category: News

On September 1st, 2011, Secretary Lowery and the Department of Education announced the 6 schools chosen to participate in round 2 of the statewide Partnership Zone Initiative (for more information about the Partnership Zone, see our previous blogs). This blog is the third of a six part series detailing these six schools (part one, part two).

Dover High is the only high school in the Capital School District, serving 1,489 students in grades 9-12. They have seen a steady rise in low income students since 2007, and at present, Dover High has a slightly higher proportion of low income students than the state and about 20% more African American students. Construction on a new building started this year and is expected to be completed in 2014.

Dover High’s story points to three interesting characteristics of Delaware’s education landscape. First, awards and ratings can belie the truth. If one didn’t pay attention to the data, one would think Dover High was doing great. In 1986 it was selected as a Blue Ribbon School by USED (generally considered the highest award a school can receive and given to less than .5% of schools a year). It has been rated in Newsweek’s Best High Schools for the past 5 years (it did not make the list this year). And yet Dover High has failed to meet AYP for the past 5 years. But if one looks at the data, the numbers don’t lie.

Based on 2011 DCAS spring scores (50% of the determination for PZ schools), Dover High students:

  • Had lower proficiency in ELA than the state in 9th (49% vs. 58%) and 10th (49% vs. 63%) grade.
  • Had lower proficiency in math than the state in 9th (51% vs. 62%) and 10th (45% vs. 59%) grade.

Based on DSTP historical trends (2008-2010, the other 50% of the determination), Dover High students:

  • Saw significant drops in proficiency in ELA (higher than the state average has dropped) and have consistently performed worse than the state.
  • Saw slight drops in proficiency in math (the state average has risen slightly) and have consistently performed significantly worse than the state.

Also, Dover High has participated in numerous initiatives and programs, which are not individually problematic but can become confusing and contradictory when layered without a cohesive framework. The DDOE is reviewing requests for qualification from organizations that can help districts assess what’s working and coordinate those initiatives that should be sustained.

Finally, Dover High highlights the state of college readiness in Delaware. Dover High’s students outperformed the state on the 2010 SAT and college enrollment, but they fall short of national averages. Our state’s college and career readiness is not where we need it to be if we are to be competitive not only nationally, but internationally. With college and career readiness a focus in the RTTT plans and DDOE’s focus on meeting the relevant goals, we are optimistic changes are coming soon.

Have your voice be heard about the direction for Dover High at Capital’s next School Board Meeting, which will be on Tuesday, September 21st at North Elementary School.

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Brian Yin



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