CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cleveland school district this afternoon named 13 low-performing schools to receive intensive help next school year, a major step in kicking off the Cleveland Plan for Transforming Schools.
The 13, among the worst-performing in the district, will see a mix of more class time, new principals, new teachers, retrained teachers and special attention to the weakest areas of the school and the greatest needs of its students.
District Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon won't say yet what the exact plan is for each school or point to specific needs for each. Instead, he'll present those to teachers, staff and families in separate meetings for each school next month.
The district is labeling the 13 schools, eight of which are rated in Academic Emergency by the state (A previous version of this story incorrectly said that all the schools were in Academic Emergency. Collinwood High School, John Adams High School, Lincoln-West High School, and Robinson G. Jones and Walton schools were rated in Academic Watch on their latest state report cards.) and 10 of which failed to pass even one of the measures the state uses to grade schools, as "investment schools." (See document below.) The district plans to designate more schools for turnaround in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years.
The goal of the Cleveland Plan, championed by Mayor Frank Jackson, is to triple the number of Cleveland students attending quality schools.
The naming of the 13 schools is still an intermediate step toward changes that won't start until next school year. But it's one of the first tangible steps in carrying out the Cleveland Plan, which state legislators approved last summer.
The plan was at the center of the district's successful campaign for a 15-mill tax increase last fall and was why the state chose not to take control of the district after it received a failing grade on its state report card from last school year. Changes in law through the Cleveland Plan already have allowed some money from the new tax to start going to charter schools that partner with the district this spring.
Cleveland's first 'investment schools'.
These 13 schools are in the first phase of the Cleveland school district's plan to turn around its low-performing schools. More "investment schools" will be named in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
Robert H. Jamison, 4092 East 146th St.
Luis Munoz Marin, 1701 Castle Ave.
Mound, 5935 Ackley Road
Kenneth Clement Boys Leadership Academy, 14311 Woodworth Road
Case, 4050 Superior Ave.
Robinson G. Jones, 4550 West 150th St.
Walton, 3409 Walton Ave.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 800 Linn Drive
Anton Grdina, 2955 East 71st St.
Carl and Louis Stokes Central Academy, 2225 East 40th St.
Collinwood High School, 15210 St. Clair Ave.
John Adams High School, 3817 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
Lincoln-West High School, 3202 West 30th St.
Gordon and his staff have spent much of this school year planning to start using the Cleveland Plan in force next school year. Many changes are also dependent on the district's ongoing contract negotiations with the Cleveland Teachers Union, which would allow more flexibility in hiring and teacher pay and which would let the district better plan its budget over the next few years.
Although details of what will happen at each of the 13 schools are not available, the district has divided them into three categories that highlight the broad challenges that district officials think most hold back their students.
Chief Academic Officer Michelle Pierre-Farid said district leaders and "corrective action teams" that included teachers and staff asked themselves, "What are the key stresses for these schools?" over the last few months. The district now hopes to address those issues and counteract them.
The three investment high schools -- Collinwood, John Adams and Lincoln-West -- all fall into a category the district calls "readiness to act." Pierre-Farid said the high schools -- along with two serving lower grades, Anton Grdina and Carl & Louis Stokes -- have seen their student populations or programs change and need to either change principals or make sure their approach fits the students.
She said the four "readiness to learn" schools -- Robert H. Jamison, Luis Munoz Marin, Mound and Kenneth Clement Boys Leadership Academy -- have either high suspension rates or low attendance by students and staff. These schools need higher expectations and more effort to teach students to reflect on their behavior, Pierre-Farid said.
The four "readiness to teach" schools -- Case, Robinson G. Jones, Walton and Franklin D. Roosevelt -- need things like better resources for students with English as a second language, better strategies for teachers to move students from basic lessons to deeper understanding of material, or better early childhood education, she said.
Pierre-Farid said that Gordon has made some decisions about changes that will happen at these schools and wants feedback on other parts and on how to carry them out. Though Gordon has decided on replacing some principals, she said, residents and staff won't be able to argue for keeping them, but can suggest traits they want in a new leader.
Or, for example, one of the schools will start using the New Tech model in place in three district schools already, she said. Residents and staff can help guide what style of New Tech school will go there – a standard one, or a themed one like the New Tech school started this year that partners with the Facing History and Ourselves organization.
Other schools will have more time in class, she said, but the community can help decide if that should come through longer school days, year-round classes, six-day school weeks or other options.
How much money the district will spend on these schools has not been determined, Pierre-Farid said. The district needs to know community choices and, in some cases, how many extra services can be handled by outside agencies volunteering at the schools.
For example, a school could have an after-school program run by another agency, she said, to give students extra help without costing the district money.
District spokeswoman Roseann Canfora said Gordon and Pierre-Farid will announce a full schedule for unveiling the plans to each school and its community by May 1 and those meetings will occur throughout the month.
Canfora said the district will take feedback at those meetings and through surveys and set final plans for each school soon after. Full plans for all schools should be finished by the end of the school year on June 5, she said.