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Mayor Bowser and DCPS Chancellor Henderson Announce New Middle Grades Investments

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Efforts give a renewed focus on enrichment, summer programming, international travel and more

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced new efforts to support District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) middle schools and students with a renewed focus on enrichment, partnerships, summer programming, international travel and athletics. Today’s event, held at the newly built Brookland Middle School in Ward 5, is part of a week-long effort leading up to Mayor Bowser’s March 31 State of the District Address to highlight ways the Administration is helping to create Pathways to the Middle Class for DC residents.

“Middle school is such a critical time in a child’s life.  It is when our young people begin to explore the challenges of adulthood – thinking about college, careers and their future – while still wrestling with the challenges of growing up,” said Mayor Bowser. “Investing in the city’s middle schools will help ensure that our young people have the skills they need to succeed in high school and beyond. A good middle grade education will help put our young people on a pathway to the middle class later in life.”

In recent years, middle grade students in DCPS have shown significant improvement.  Seventh and eighth graders have shown the greatest achievement gains of any grade in DCPS since 2007.

To build on this success, Mayor Bowser has committed $17 million in investment in DCPS middle grades this year and providing additional funds to expand programming next school year. This funding is part of Mayor Bowser’s effort to transform middle schools by 2020.

“As a former middle school teacher, I have a special place in my heart for this special time in these young peoples’ lives, and all that comes with it,” said Chancellor Henderson. “This initial investment for the current school year is only the starting point. With Mayor Bowser’s commitment, these targeted supports will make a real difference for our middle grade students. We are very grateful for Mayor Bowser’s commitment to support all of our students.”

This year, DCPS will expand two of its signature summer programs: DC Meets Washington and the Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM) summer program. DCPS launched DC Meets Washington last summer to offer middle school students opportunities for college and career exposure. During this three-week program, students met local leaders from engineering, information technology, and hospitality career sectors and participated in industry site visits across the city. Teachers used a curriculum focused on college and career exploration to help students plan for high school, college and beyond. DCPS will double enrollment in the program to 150 students. The program will be based at Browne Education Campus, and middle grade students from all DCPS schools can apply.

DCPS also will offer its enrichment-based Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM) summer school program launched in 2014 in partnership with the University of Connecticut's Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. This unique approach to inquiry-based, student-driven learning was designed to build on the SEM approach toward developing giftedness in highly motivated students.

For the 2015-16 school year, DCPS also will expand the home visit model to two additional middle schools. Through the home visit program, parents meet with individual teachers to learn about their student’s progress and successes. At the same time, teachers learn more about a student’s life at home, which improves the bond between the school and the family.

Additionally, DCPS will provide $10,000 for every school with middle grades to support athletic equipment and facilities improvements. 

To build on the District’s investment, the DC Public Education Fund also announced the launch of a new fundraising campaign to support international travel for middle school students. This effort will help ensure that every eighth grade DCPS student will have international educational experiences that expand their cultural knowledge and career interests.

More DCPS data about middle grade achievement growth:

  • Proficiency rates in math have more than doubled for seventh and eighth graders (from 24% to 52% for seventh graders, from 27% to 58% for eighth graders).
  • Since 2010, seventh and eighth graders have shown greater gains than any other grade in reading (8% and 7% respectively).
  • Student satisfaction in middle schools also has gone up 11 percentage points since 2011 with 74% of middle school students reporting that they like their school in 2014.