DPS receives Education Excellence Award

Eight step plan is having impact on increasing graduation rates.

DEARBORN — The Dearborn Public Schools received an Education Excellence Award in recognition of its successful Eight Step approach to helping students graduate from high school on time.

It was one of 20 programs across the state recognized by the Michigan Association of School Boards for providing a solution to a complex educational challenge.

Since DPS implemented its Eight Step Plan to Improve Graduation Rates a few years ago, all three traditional high schools have seen an increase in four-year graduation rates with Dearborn High at 89.9 percent, Fordson at 89.4 percent and Edsel Ford at 83.7 percent. These rates also outpace state averages.

“We’re pleased to receive the Education Excellence Award from the MASB, recognizing the success of our Eight Step plan,” DPS Supt. Brian Whiston said. “Most importantly, we’re proud of our students and applaud the hard work of our staff for bringing about the gains we’ve seen in graduation rates.”

The Eight-Step approach has had an immediate impact at the high school grades and the district is poised to see consistently high graduation rates through the work being done at the elementary and middle school levels. The goal is to see all students graduate in four years.

Highlights of the Eight Step Plan include:
• Any student (K-12) with 10 percent or more absences is contacted by Student Services.

• If parents and students do not respond to initial contact, a truancy officer or one of the high school liaisons will work with the family to resolve issues related to high absenteeism.

• Each school identifies 10 to 15 students nearing or in a transition year (grades 5, 6, 8 or 9) with multiple risk factors for dropping out and provides intensive support and interventions.

• The district works to enroll students in the extended day program to have them catch up with lost credits as quickly as possible in order to ensure on time graduation.

• The graduation intervention specialists work directly with parents and teachers to support and encourage struggling students and get them on track for on time graduation.

• The secondary literacy and math coordinators work with teachers to improve instructional practice in order to improve student achievement.

• The combination of ninth grade lead teachers, ninth grade academies, and the Link Crew program all contribute to making the ninth-grade transition year a success.

• Increasing high school graduation rates is a goal of the superintendent and top administrators thus ensuring system-wide accountability.

Addressing truancy at all grade levels, parent contracts, and making sure all students are reading at grade level are some of the district-wide programs that will have a long term impact on improving graduation rates and overall student success.

With the award, DPS receives an unrestricted $1,800 cash donation from award sponsor SET SEG School Insurance Specialists, a trophy and metal street sign proclaiming the district an “Education Excellence Winner.”