Learning summit to address Detroit's underperforming schools

- Detroit school leaders reacted to the possible closure of 26 of its underperforming schools. Twelve schools from other cities in the metro area are also on the at-risk list.

School authorities from the Detroit Public School Community District and the Education Achievement Authority held a briefing Monday morning inside Coleman A. Young Elementary School, which is a school that was recent removed from the underperforming school list. The authorities talked about how the students worked in small groups to close the learning gap and raise the school's academic performance.

School leaders say, with hard work, they've turned around schools in the past and they know it can happen again.

"I hope that we can mimic what we do all around the city in every school, not just DPSCD. Every school needs to do what we're doing. We still have a lot of work to do, make no bones about it; we have a lot of work to do. We have the energy. We have the plan. We have the vision, and we have very, very hard workers," says Melissa Scott, principal at Coleman A. Young Elementary.

"The reason we gathered here at Coleman Young is to celebrate your success, our success, but it's also to say the work is not done and we have a lot more work to do in Detroit and Detroit schools," says DPSCD Interim Superintendent, Alycia Merriweather.

A learning summit will take place on January 31 and February 1 with representatives from out-of-state schools to share ideas and come up with a possible plan to get Detroit schools off of the underperforming schools list and out of the threat of closure.

The Michigan School Reform Office said Friday that 38 schools are failing and subject to closure. Some of those schools could stay open if state officials decide closure would pose an unreasonable hardship for students with no better available options.

Twenty six of the schools schools are in Detroit. The others are in Benton Harbor, Bridgeport, East Detroit, Kalamazoo, Pontiac, River Rouge and Saginaw. All schools were in the bottom 5 percent for academic performance for the past three years in a row.

The law allows for state-ordered closures if chronically underperforming schools have not improved despite receiving other forms of intervention.

The closure option has not been used before.

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