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Dayton Public Schools approves $475K improvement program for 5 schools

UPDATE @ 7:30 p.m.:

The Dayton Public Schools Board of Education approved a $475,000 contract with Partnership for Leaders in Education to develop and implement improvement plans at five DPS schools over the next five years.

Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said the specific schools that were chosen represent a cross-section of the district. She said the program is less about turning around low-performing schools, but about making sure it is effective at a variety of schools before considering expansion.

She said the program will be funded with federal grant money aimed at things like school improvement programs.

The school district’s contract proposal from Partnership for Leaders in Education, a program out of the University of Virginia, claims success at other districts.

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“The (program) is the only research-proven effort in the country focused on establishing system conditions ripe for change and building transformative leadership capacity to achieve that change,” the proposal says. “With the partnership now in its 15th year, most of our partner schools outgain state averages, almost 50 percent of our partner schools have experienced double-digit proficiency gains within two years and 20 percent of those schools achieve over 25-point gains within three years.”

If successful at the initial five schools, the district intends to expand the program to other schools.

“The idea is to transform the district and not just a select number of schools. You think big, you start small, you scale fast,” said Lynsa Davie, DPS chief of schools special project.

Davie said the program was instrumental at helping her turn around Chase Elementary School in Cincinnati, where she worked before coming to DPS. She said it helped them lift it out of academic emergency.

Chase Elementary’s performance index score on state report cards is higher than Dayton’s district average, and higher than most DPS elementary schools.

Lolli said the program was chosen because it had some documented success at several Cincinnati schools.

FIRST REPORT:

The Dayton Public Schools Board of Education is scheduled to vote today, July 17, on whether to spend $475,000 on a “turnaround program” for five school buildings deemed by the district as under-performing.

The project will contract with Partnership for Leaders in Education, a program based at the University of Virginia. It would spend the 2018-2019 school year assessing and designing a plan to improve the schools’ performance, and the following two years rolling out that plan.

THE PATH FORWARD: The region must rally to fix the Dayton Public Schools

“I can tell you I come knowing that it does work,” said Lynsa Davie, who was hired this summer as DPS’ chief of school special projects from the Cincinnati city school district. She said the program helped skyrocket the school she worked at out of academic emergency.

“The goal really is to get a new way of thinking and then bring it back and implement it at the school, and ultimately change the culture and lead change,” she said.

Board President William Harris said the selected schools are Fairview Elementary, Louise Troy Elementary, Edwin Joel Brown Elementary, Ruskin Elementary and Belmont High School.

RELATED: 5 kids who represent the best of Dayton Public Schools

In response to a question about how these schools were identified — there are other DPS schools with lower scores on the state’s performance index — DPS responded with a statement.

“The schools were selected by the range of test results, ages of students and diversity of geography and school buildings that are ‘on the rise.’ Some of the schools have received SIGs (School Improvement Grant). These are awarded by the U. S. Department of Education to use practices designed to improve academic achievement,” the statement says.

“The Partnership for Leaders in Education program presents an opportunity to develop leadership and make a difference in test scores.”

The contract was publicly discussed during a school board meeting July 10. School board members John McManus and Jocelyn Spencer-Rhynard asked for more information for themselves and the public before voting on it.

A brochure for the Partnership for Leaders in Education says the 16 Cincinnati schools they worked with increased their math proficiency by an average of 15 percent and reading proficiency by 17 percent. It claims the program brought five schools out of academic emergency and raised performance index scores at 12 schools.

RELATED: Plenty of parents love Dayton Public Schools; others plan to move

Its website says: “Our goal is to empower system- and school-level leaders to achieve dramatic improvement in a set of persistently under-performing schools. The lessons learned and successes achieved inform our strategies for expanding and sustaining success across the school system. The University of Virginia School Turnaround Program is rigorous, and we never lose sight of the real impact leadership can have on the lives of students.”

Join the conversation about fixing the region’s schools at The Path Forward: Dayton Schools Facebook page

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