Detroit Kicks Off Five-Year Plan With Universal Pre-K

Amber Bogins of the Michigan Chronicle reports that as part of its five-year strategic plan, Detroit is launching or expanding a number of academic improvement programs including universal pre-K. In addition, the district is looking to expand offerings in music and arts to all its campuses and focus more on parent outreach in order to encourage parents to take more active rule in their children’s education.

This is all part of Detroit Public Schools 2-13-17 strategic plan titled “Neighborhood-Centered, Quality Schools.” The first step will be to add 25 new pre-K classrooms to 14 sites around the city. Twelve of the classrooms will be located in the new DPS Early Learning Neighborhood Centers. According to Bogins, that will bring the number of pre-K classrooms operating within DPS to 215 able to enroll more than 3,500 students.

District officials have also announced plans to move 21 early learning programs previously located in charter schools around Detroit or in Educational Achievement Authorities schools to DPS school buildings in order to ease the student transition to kindergarten.

“DPS’ Universal Pre-K Plan is designed to invest early in our children through expanded preschool programs for all eligible four-year-olds because study after study has found that quality early childhood education pays dividends with improved academic success and graduation rates,” said Emergency Manager Roy S. Roberts.

“Quality Pre-K programs help children learn to read before 3rd grade, which is a critical achievement. We know that students who can read by 3rd grade will stay engaged in school and graduate at much higher rates,” said Karen Ridgeway, Superintendent of Academics for Detroit Public Schools.

The district is also planning to roll out a campaign to retain as many students as possible from its pre-K programs. At the moment over 30% of the students who take advantage of Detroit’s pre-K programs leave district schools before first grade. District officials hope to reverse this trend in order to stabilize the DPS enrollment numbers.

In addition to the 46 new preschool classrooms, the retention plan includes:

· New monthly Pre-K-to-Kindergarten transition programs during the school year

· One-on-one satisfaction surveys with parents

· Individualized Pre-K-to-kindergarten counseling for families

· First-ever pre-kindergarten enrichment programs this summer, including weekly educational/experiential field trips and other programs, during the district’s Summer Academy.

These new moves support the district’s strategy to provide more Pre-K programs and to find innovative methods of attracting new students.