Logosm.gif (1927 bytes)
navlinks.gif (4688 bytes)
Hruler04.gif (5511 bytes)

Back to public schools main page

Children First Initiative
Press release
June 22, 2001




Dorothy Brizill
Bonnie Cain
Jim Dougherty
Gary Imhoff
Phil Mendelson
Mark David Richards
Sandra Seegars


DCWatch Archives
Council Period 12
Council Period 13
Council Period 14

Election 1998
Election 2000
Election 2002

Election 2004
Election 2006

Government and People
Anacostia Waterfront Corporation
Boards and Com
Campaign Finance
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Management Officer
City Council
Control Board
Corporation Counsel
DC Agenda
Elections and Ethics
Fire Department
FOI Officers
Inspector General
Housing and Community Dev.
Human Services
Mayor's Office
Mental Health
Motor Vehicles
Neighborhood Action
National Capital Revitalization Corp.
Planning and Econ. Dev.
Planning, Office of
Police Department
Property Management
Public Advocate
Public Libraries
Public Schools
Public Service Commission
Public Works
Regional Mobility Panel
Sports and Entertainment Com.
Taxi Commission
Telephone Directory
University of DC
Water and Sewer Administration
Youth Rehabilitation Services
Zoning Commission

Issues in DC Politics

Budget issues
DC Flag
DC General, PBC
Gun issues
Health issues
Housing initiatives
Mayor’s mansion
Public Benefit Corporation
Regional Mobility
Reservation 13
Tax Rev Comm
Term limits repeal
Voting rights, statehood
Williams’s Fundraising Scandals


Appleseed Center
Cardozo Shaw Neigh.Assoc.
Committee of 100
Fed of Citizens Assocs
League of Women Voters
Parents United
Shaw Coalition



What Is DCWatch?

themail archives

Paul Vance, Peggy Cooper Cafritz, announcing Children First Initiative

DC Public Schools
Office of Communications and Public Information
"Children are the Heart of our Business"
825 North Capitol Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002

Friday, June 22, 2001
Contact: Linda Wharton Boyd
202-442-5635 (office)
or Denise Tann, 202-374-6117 (cell)

"The Children First Initiative Is A First Step Toward Improving Student Achievement In Low-Performing Schools"

Washington, D.C. -Today, D.C. Public Schools Superintendent Paul L. Vance announced his Children First Initiative to improve student achievement. In a press briefing and announcement, Dr. Vance unveiled the names of the nine schools that will be completely transformed in the next academic school year. This is the first phase of his 3 to 5 year plan to completely transform all schools in the District of Columbia Public Schools.

The first phase of the initiative involves transforming six elementary, one middle, one junior and one senior high school. Each school's administrative, instructional and support staff will be reassigned. A limited number of staff members may be selected to return to the school if they wish to reapply. New research-proven academic programs will be put in place, instructional resources will be enhanced and school facilities will be revitalized.

The nine schools identified for full transformation are Davis ES, Ward 7; HD Cooke ES*, Ward 1; LaSalle ES, Ward 4; Noyes ES, Ward 5; Simon ES, Ward 8; Turner ES, Ward 8; Kramer MS, Ward 6; RH Terrell JHS, Ward 2; and Phelps CSHS, Ward 5.

The schools considered for transformation in 2001-02 were those from the original list of 23 "targeted assistance" schools. While other schools in DCPS may have similar performance profiles, the schools selected for transformation were those that received additional resources and intensive technical assistance for the longest period of time (four years), yet still failed to make improvement. All schools that had been identified for targeted assistance in the years following the selection of the original 23, will be considered for transformation in the future. Also, all schools, regardless of performance or placement on the targeted assistance schools list, were considered for transformation based on evidence of a negative school climate.

Eight of the nine schools were identified based on the following criteria:

  1. For three or more years, the school's performance had continuous annual decline, been flat or unchanging, produced low overall achievement despite some periodic gains, or shown uneven or erratic increases and decreases.*
  2. The school failed to address and respond sensitively to student and community needs; the principal and staff were unable to communicate with parents positively and engage them constructively in the life of the school, and/or there was evidence of a negative school climate.
  3. Phelps is included because it will be the site of a reconstituted vocational and technical program.
"When I joined the D.C. Public Schools, I came with a commitment to build on the progress made by this entire school community to improve the quality of education for our students. I now have an intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the school district and the challenges that we face. It is now time to put into action those things I have heard from community leaders, business partners, political leaders, teachers, administrators and, most of all, our children," said Superintendent Vance.

Dr. Vance stated that his yearlong assessment of the DCPS organization, management practice and facilities helped him to formulate a vision of what is needed to transform the entire system into one that works for all students.

The Children First Initiative will create a learning environment for students that includes safe, secure and healthy conditions in the schools; well-prepared teachers who will implement high quality instruction; wraparound services to help students be ready to learn when they arrive at school; rigorous coursework; and extended learning for all students who do not initially meet the challenging standards. All academic and other programs will be proven, research-based, best practices. The following are the components of the transformation initiative.

A. Staffing

Principals will be appointed to the schools that are to be transformed by mid-July. Staff recruitment has already begun and staff selection will be finalized once each school's principal is appointed. Consequently, I have assigned interim principals to each of the nine schools to assure that they operate smoothly during this period. In addition, divisional assistant superintendents will closely monitor these schools throughout the summer until new staff is in place. Current employees who are not selected through the reapplication process will be assigned to a comparable position at another DCPS school without prejudice. Where applicable, building seniority will transfer with the employee. All staffing decisions are targeted for completion no later than August 1, 2001. Also, a Deputy Superintendent for School Transformation will be appointed to oversee the ongoing transformation process.

B. Academic Programs

There will be prescribed academic improvements for each transformation school. For example, all elementary schools will use the American Choice school reform model.

C. Parental Involvement

Parent input will be sought as transformation schools are restructured and re-staffed. The research shows that when families take part in their children's educational programs, their children do better in school. Family Resource Centers (FRCs) will be established in each transformation school as places where parents can get ideas about how to work with their child's teacher, volunteer in the classroom, and support their child's learning at home. FRCs will also give parents the opportunity to develop family activities that reflect the culture and language of their own family and community. The Family Resource Center will be an important component of our new and aggressive parent outreach program for transformation schools. The Family Resource Centers will facilitate parents, administrators and teachers working together to improve student achievement.

D. Community Partnerships

Informational briefings have been held with various community leaders and partners about the Children First Initiative. Their support has been offered for this initiative. The strategic use of community partnerships, especially in the provision of wraparound family and social services, is an important component of this initiative. We are going to engage business, civic and community organizations in support of the academic, operational, and business needs of each transformation school.

E. School Facility Improvements

The school facility improvements are designed to make visible improvements that will change the school environment. These changes will help create a positive first impression upon entering the building, will provide a bright and inviting atmosphere, and create an environment that supports learning in a safe and healthy school. Depending on the needs of the school, specific changes may include:

  • Improvements to school main entrance and school signage;
  • Improved, more transparent window guards;
  • Landscaping;
  • Increased lighting in corridors;
  • Interior painting and white, bright ceilings;
  • Removal of discolored window glazing;
  • Upgrades for specialized spaces such as media centers and art and music facilities;
  • Creation of inviting parent centers; and
  • Repairs to lab facilities and additional wiring for technology.

F. Family and Social Services

The strategic provision of wraparound family and social services available in the school district and other district agencies is instrumental to school transformation. Interagency onestop centers in schools for social, recreational, health, mental health, and other wellness services will be established through interagency collaboration and planning as a holistic approach to service delivery. The Department of Health, Department of Recreation, D.C. Public Libraries, Juvenile Court, Child and Family Services, Metropolitan Police Department, Department of Mental Health Services and all other agencies that provide services for students and their families have pledged their support as partners in this initiative. Wraparound services are designed to address issues that hinder the process of learning.

On the heels of Dr. Vance's first anniversary as the school's top chief, this plan is the first step in a dramatic move to improve the quality of education of students in the District of Columbia Public Schools. Dr. Vance introduced his plan in a May 25, 2001, memorandum to the Board of Education, on "Putting Children First: Creating Schools That Work." He committed the District of Columbia Public Schools to undertake major initiatives to improve our schools.

The initiatives, all part of our Business Plan for Strategic Reform, included transforming schools with a pattern of low performance, creating a "blue ribbon" panel to guide planning for reinventing all high schools, and replacing principals who have proven to be ineffective in leading their schools. In mid-July, a work session will be convened with the Board of Education and the Blue Ribbon Panel on Reinventing the District's High Schools. Dr. John Kovach, Associate Director, Temple University Laboratory for Student Success, has agreed to serve as executive director of the panel. The panel has held two meetings and is expected to conclude its work in November of this year.

"We are asking for the support of our partners in this ongoing process. Community support is very important to the success of our organization and the achievement of our children. We are staying focused on children and look forward to working with the entire community in implementing the Children First Initiative," said Dr. Vance.

*Footnote: HD Cooke was not on the original targeted assistance schools list.

Back to top of page

Send mail with questions or comments to webmaster@dcwatch.com
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)