Poor performing Delaware schools must choose path to improvement

    Four Delaware schools get Race to the Top funding to improve poor student performance.

    The Race to the Top just got a little tougher for some Delaware schools.  The state education department announced a new Partnership Zone aimed at dramatically improving student performance.  The four Delaware schools have four options to improve student achievement, and none of those options are particularly easy things to do.

    Under the state’s new Partnership Zone program, the lowest performing schools three months to develop a strategy for improvement.  The schools are Positive Outcomes Charter School in Camden, Stubbs Elementary and Howard High School of Technology, both of Wilmington, and Glasgow High School.

    Delaware Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery says there will be federal and state money to aide in any turnaround efforts thanks to more than $100-million in federal grant money through Race to the Top.  “With that grant award, instead of just using state funds to help these schools through this very important work, we can now give them up to $700,000 per year to come up with some innovative, creative ways of turning these schools around,” Lowery said.

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    The plan to get students back on track must include one of four options.

    The district can decide to close the school permanently and send students to other schools.  Another option is restarting the school as a public charter school.  A third option, called transformation, requires significant changes in teacher evaluation consequences and modified instruction time.  That could mean a year-round school calendar and longer school days.  The fourth option, called turnaround, requires the school to make changes in staffing, which includes removing at least half of the current staff.

    The schools will get funding over the next four years, but Lowery says the effort should start showing results before the grant money expires.  “The goal for the Partnership Zone schools is to see significant results in two years.”

    WHYY and First continue to follow Race to the Top.    Check out our broadcast and web stories on the subject.

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