Education

Durham schools unveil student achievement plan

Posted January 26, 2011 4:46 p.m. EST
Updated January 27, 2011 5:42 a.m. EST

— Durham Public Schools unveiled a strategic plan on Wednesday to increase student achievement. 

Superintendent Eric Becoats focused on six areas of student achievement, including academic acceleration and equitable standards.

"Our strategic plan will provide us with the direction to move this district forward," Becoats said. 

Becoats targeted a series of goals with target completion by 2014, including reducing the high school drop-out rate to 3 percent or lower and achieving an 80 percent four-year graduate rate.

Other goals are to have all students enrolled in at least one college-level course and achieve an average combined SAT score of 1650 or better in the district.

The plan also aims to get more than 80 percent of students in second through 11th grades proficient in reading, math, science and algebra.

The DPS also plans to expand pre-K learning opportunities by April 2013.

Science, technology, engineering, arts and math summer camps are also planned. 

Another imitative is a Family Academy to assist parents with necessary resources.

In addition to student achievement, the district wants to increase its green efforts and become more energy efficient by using recycled and environmentally friendly materials and reducing energy consumption.

Nutrition is also a concern, with the district setting a goal to improve the nutritional value of food provided to students and staff by August 2013.

A competitive recruitment and retention initiative to attract teachers is also on tap. The district wants to establish a partnership with local universities and businesses to assist with tuition for teachers and administrators obtaining post-graduate degrees.

The district has set a December 2012 goal to redesign School Site Emergency and Crisis Plans, which deal with the safety of students, staff and guests while on campus.

In an effort to decrease the out-of-school suspension rate, the district hopes to establish partnerships with the local community to serve as alternatives to suspension centers and will implement a transition program for students reentering DPS from an alternative setting.

The district plans also to increase its visibility among the public by launching programs on a local-access channel and enhancing its website by the end of the year.

Becoats admitted that in order to transform all the connecting strategies in the classroom, it will require redirecting some resources and getting rid of programs that aren't working. He said the district is in the process of making the necessary changes. 

Becoats called on the community to support the plan, which he said will require grants and business partnerships to cover the cost. 

"We will actually be able to track the cost of implementing the strategy. We will also be able to track the time that it takes to get it done," he said. 

Rodrigo Dorfman, who has two children in Durham schools, said it was great "to finally hear something that puts together the best and the brightest ideas together and claim boldly that we can do them."

Some parents were upset last week when they found out that only a limited number of people had been invited to Wednesday's meeting due to lack of space.

The event was available online on the school district's website and will be aired on a local-access cable channel so more people can see it, school district spokeswoman Tahira Stalberte said. Also, district staff will discuss the strategic plan with various church, neighborhood and business groups in the coming months.