Pursuant to Applicable Law and the Terms and Conditions of this Contract, including Article VI, Section 6.3, the Academy shall implement, deliver, and support the educational programs identified in this schedule.
The Dearborn Academy (“Academy”) is designed as a kindergarten through eighth grade public Academy serving the Dearborn, Michigan community. Authorization was received from Central Michigan University in 1997. The Academy was established with the specific purpose of serving the diverse needs of the Dearborn community and the surrounding areas which host a population of approximately 90,000 residents. This population is comprised of individuals and families from various ethnic backgrounds and cultures. Dearborn has one of the largest populations of Arabic speaking residents in the United States.
The Academy serves students in kindergarten through grade eight who come from nine surrounding districts in the metropolitan Detroit area. A large percentage of students who attend the Academy are of Middle Eastern descent. Many of the students who enroll at the Academy are new or recent immigrants. Frequently, the parents do not speak English. As a result, the Academy strives to communicate with the home in the student’s native language.
The Dearborn Academy is a unique charter school serving a multicultural community through individualized, focused instruction allowing each student to achieve academic excellence and exhibit social responsibility.
We are an Academy dedicated to academic excellence for our young learners. We are innovative, empowering, and absolutely committed to the continuous social development and academic growth of all students. We establish a school learning environment in which our academic goals are articulated with laser sharp clarity and are regularly monitored.
We provide an academic environment where quality learning is fun and enjoyable. We create an atmosphere of trust and support for all learners where diversity is celebrated and honored. We develop actively involved learners who are self-confident and are engaged in the global community.
Educational Belief Statements
We believe that all children can learn and accept the responsibility for ensuring quality learning occurs.
We believe in academic, social, and personal success for each of our students.
We believe clear, focused, and measurable educational goals are necessary to guarantee student achievement.
We believe that education is a collaborative process between staff, students, and families.
We believe that parental involvement is an integral part of student success.
We believe Professional Learning Communities (PLC”) unify all members of the Academy staff to develop a positive and productive culture of learning.
We believe that teachers must have adequate resources, strong parental support, and consideration of ideas from the administration and the board.
We believe that the study of language and cultural development will engage students to become well-rounded citizens in the global community.
We believe that integrating technology in all disciplines will facilitate learner engagement, motivation, and enthusiasm.
We believe in celebrating multi-cultural backgrounds and embracing diversity.
We believe in ensuring that students will be active participants in the community.
We commit to a safe and secure environment for all.
We commit to creating a sense of belonging and a trusting environment for all learners.
We commit to addressing the needs of the whole child.
We commit to planning together and sharing a vision of success for all learners.
We commit to communicating, engaging, and involving the entire community in the learning process.
From Realistic and Reasonable to High Expectations
Although the school community may face challenges resulting from multiple racial backgrounds, language barriers, Students with Interrupted Formal Education (“SIFE”), lack of prior schooling, assimilation and acculturation issues, learning and/or emotional disabilities, the Academy staff and administration believe every student can perform. To ensure academic achievement, the Academy provides highly qualified educators who engage students through increasingly varied learning strategies. Within a developmental education approach, the Academy plans instruction with reasonable, realistic, and gradually heightened expectations for each student.
Intellectual Approach to Learning
As an emerging PLC, the Academy takes a proactive role in the education of all students. Periodic cross-disciplinary, Project-Based Learning (“PBL”) experiences are carefully designed so that students must use and build conceptual understanding of academic content and social development. Students are encouraged to use higher level thinking skills and to apply problem-solving skills in daily learning experiences. When students do not learn, timely systematic interventions via the Response to Intervention (“RtI”) process are applied to prevent failure. All students are required to be active participants in the learning process. Similarly, all teachers are required to be proactive in continually assessing student learning and responding with interventions when necessary.
Strong Partnership between the Academy and Home
A strong partnership between the Academy and home is critical to the individual success of each student. The Academy has established programs and practices to enhance parent involvement and reflect the specific needs of students and families. The programs established by the Academy include an evolving parent organization (i.e., Parent Involvement Committee (“P.I.C.”)), translation services to ensure effective communication between the Academy and home, and English as a Second Language (“ESL”) classes to help parents and students learn theEnglish language. In addition, the Academy distributes a student-parent handbook, provides automated school outreach communications, as well as organizes annual events and activities (i.e., open house, career day, readers are leaders, and reading bingo) to further develop school-home relationships. Quarterly parent night and parent night satisfaction surveys and increasing parental involvement in the school improvement planning process are other methods the Academy uses to strengthen relationships.
Preparing the 21st Century Learner
The Academy has a role in the creation of a college bound culture that ensures secondary, post-secondary, or world-to-work readiness. Middle school students create Educational Development Plans (“EDP”), and participate in Outreach activities to learn about and participate in a variety of community services. Students are able to apply the skills developed at the Academy to the requirements of high school, university, and work. The 21st-century learner has to become skilled at facing the challenges of the 21st century as “the job of today’s young people, or the ‘Transition Generation,’ will be to get humanity through the coming period of chaos, peril, and opportunity” (Martin, 2007).
The Academy operates within a framework involving all stakeholders in decisions impacting the education of Academy students. The Academy Board serves to set and enforce policy. Each member of the Academy Board is appointed by Central Michigan University. The Academy Board includes members from the community, the education community at large, and the business community. In addition to board members, Academy’s parents are routinely surveyed to provide insight on decisions. Parents are welcome to join the P.I.C. and attend meetings. During the meetings, the P.I.C. explores opportunities to support student learning such as fundraising ideas and facilitating special activities for students and families. Other groups that assist in the decision-making process are the school improvement planning and strategic planning teams. Team representation is comprised of support staff, teachers, parents, students, board members, and administration. Important issues and decisions facing the Academy are reviewed and deliberated collaboratively between these stakeholders. Discussion, research, and recommendations guide the decision-making process for all school improvement processes.
The Academy utilizes the Common Core State Standards (“CCSS”) as a guide for the development and revision of the written curriculum in English language arts (“ELA”) and mathematics. The Academy uses the Michigan Curriculum Framework (“MCF”) and Grade Level Content Expectations (“GLCE”) for curriculum development and revision in science and social studies. Extensive use of the Oakland County Common Core Initiative and Scope Curricula, housed online within Atlas Rubicon, offers a CCSS-based mastery curriculum for ELA and mathematics and a GLCE-based mastery curriculum for science and social studies. The Academy will transition to and implement the New Generation Science Standards and the College, Career, and Civic Life (“C3”) Framework for Inquiry in Social Studies Standards.
The key foundational elements the Academy’s has put into practice include a daily schedule, scope and sequencing documents, positive teacher-student interaction, assessments, and active learning ingredients. A daily schedule with consistent routines (e.g., morning announcements, calendar time, and assignment notebooks for middle school students) assists in establishing expectations and boundaries. In the classroom, the daily routine comprises of posted learning objectives, whole and small group instruction, student-initiated activities, and learning centers serving to reinforce concepts.
Core and non-core area content is guided by year-long scope and sequencing documents. The year-long documents are used by staff for instructional planning. To ensure consistency amongst grade levels, unit plans, lesson plans, and resources are found in the scope and sequencing materials. A variety of pedagogical strategies (e.g., Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (“SIOP”), guided mathematics and reading, differentiated instruction, and formative assessment practices are used to deliver the content. To engage students in learning, the Academy promotes positive teacher-student interactions by working together to create a safe and orderly learning environment. Teachers support and extend students’ learning by engaging students in instructional dialogue. In addition, teachers share control with the student by allowing students to have some input in the learning process (e.g., co-creating rubrics for assignments). Students are also supported through intrinsic motivation and by positive notes or contacts with parents each quarter.
Criterion-and norm-referenced tests are used to assess student achievement. In addition, teachers use formative assessment practices to monitor student progress during daily lessons and throughout units of instruction. These include activities such as student observations, anecdotal records, and strategic use of questioning. The analysis of assessment results assists teachers in planning lessons and adjusting the curriculum.
Active learning ingredients include appealing materials (i.e., manipulatives, hands-on learning, demonstrations, realia, and ELMO) and opportunities for adult support (i.e., reading/mathematics interventionists, Tier II Interventionists, 31A specialist, and ESL teachers). In addition, teachers differentiate instruction based on the individual student’s needs. The SIOP framework is also used to bridge gaps between teachers and English Language Learners (“ELL”). SIOP supports instruction using evidence-based teaching methods to incorporate reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
The Academy’s kindergarten through eighth-grade core curriculum is designed to include learning experiences in reading, writing, spelling, phonics, speaking, listening, handwriting, mathematics, social studies, science, technology, foreign language (Arabic), art, and physical education. Activities that promote character development, health education, and career awareness are also integrated into the core content curriculum areas.
Research-based Instructional Practices
To deliver instruction, the Academy utilizes several research-based instructional practices including, but not limited to, differentiated instruction, Bloom’s Taxonomy, Marzano’s nine high yielding instructional strategies, SIOP, and PBL.
Differentiated Instruction (Tomlinson, 2001) encompasses strategies that are differentiated based on content of instruction, the process, and the product. The differentiating of instruction is integrated through lessons and activities that are enriched through the cognitive levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956). Teachers use Bloom’s to create activities that promote learning, appeal to different learning styles, and help students feel engaged with the content. In addition to differentiated instruction and Bloom’s Taxonomy, Marzano, Pickering and Pollock (2001) offer nine instructional strategies that have the highest probability of enhancing student achievement. Those used at the Academy include identifying similarities/differences, summarizing/note taking, reinforcing effort and providing recognition, using nonlinguistic representation, incorporating cooperative learning effectively, setting objectives and providing feedback, and utilizing questions, cues, and advance organizers.
The Academy also uses SIOP as an instructional method to engage students. Research (Echevarria, Vogt & Short, 2008) indicates SIOP provides for interaction, practice and application, lesson delivery review, and assessment. Teachers use explicit instructional strategies, such as questioning techniques or graphic organizers, to support higher level thinking entailing predicting, summarizing, problem-solving, organizing, evaluating, and self-monitoring.
Another instructional approach used at the Academy is PBL (Buck Institute of Learning, 1990). PBL is developed from authentic learning activities involving student interest and motivation. The activities are intended to answer a question, solve a problem, and emulate the types of learning and work people do in the real world.
The Academy’s curriculum is flexible to meet the needs of all learners (e.g., advanced, below grade level, special education, and ELL). Teachers provide accommodations, adapt instructional methods, and make conscious modifications to lesson plans to meet individual needs. The curriculum provides students with access to content material combined with engaging instruction and thoughtful assignments. The flexibility within the curriculum allows teachers to implement best practice instructional strategies as well as to approach higher level thinking skills.
As a Title I building, the Academy provides supplementary assistance when needed to ensure each student’s success. Additionally, the curriculum covers comprehension, phonics, basic fact understanding, and skills. The Academy also tries to stretch student’s intellectual growth by working with the student’s existing knowledge base to modify, combine, and extend or deepen understanding.
The Academy’s RtI team addresses the academic and behavioral needs of all students through a variety of services containing the following key elements (a) high-quality instruction and research-based tiered interventions aligned to individual student need; (b) frequent monitoring of student progress to make results-based academic and/or behavioral decisions; (c) application of student response data to important educational decisions.
Reading and Math Interventions
The Academy is dedicated to providing students with solid basic instruction. The mathematics and reading interventionists provide a pull-out program to students who require additional instruction in core mathematics and literacy study. Reading and math interventionists also provide opportunities for appropriate pacing. Through pacing, interventionists guide students at either a more rapid pace when understanding comes quickly or at a slower, more appropriate pace to allow for a depth or breadth of investigation.
Before and After-School Tutoring Programs
Highly qualified classroom teachers offer specialized instruction to students in order to facilitate mastery. Instructional staff extends the content of the regular curriculum by providing before and after-school tutoring opportunities for students. An after-school grant, Start The Afternoon Right (“STAR”), has been adopted by the Academy and incorporated for student enrichment and tutoring. STAR provides homework support, arts and crafts activities, and sports activities. As budget has allowed, the Academy has also adopted summer initiatives to promote learning. Further, the Academy offers summer ESL classes for basic and low intermediate students.
Students with above grade level reading skills are encouraged, in ELA classes, to read differentially at an individual, advanced level and challenged through rigorous reader response assignments. In mathematics, students with above grade level skills are, at times, grouped into special small classes conducted by interventionists. In middle school social studies, students with strong skills are challenged with more complex text material. In all core academic areas, teachers often create lessons with tiered options to serve the needs of learners at advanced levels.
To meet the needs of ELL, the Academy uses SIOP. SIOP is the integration of language instruction with content to provide more challenging and engaging instructional environments. The protocol is composed of thirty items grouped into three sections: Preparation, Instruction, and Review/Evaluation. The SIOP model offers teachers a structure to teach what students need to learn in terms of both the language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing in English as well as the specific content students need to learn with grade-level English-speaking peers.
The goal of the program is to offer each student the English skills (i.e., reading, writing, listening, and speaking) necessary to function successfully in an academic setting. At the Academy ELL, are further assisted through the ESL program. The ESL program is supported by two ESL teachers and offers both push-in and pull-out services to the Academy’s basic and low, as designated by the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (“WIDA”), ELL students.
When making educational placement decisions for students with disabilities, the Academy will ensure that parents are contributing members of the IEP team and together the team is making decisions that are subject to requirements regarding provision of the least restrictive environment. When determining how services will be delivered to students with disabilities, the Academy will follow all Special Education Rules as issued by the Michigan Department of Education. If a child with a current Individualized Educational Program (“IEP”) enrolls in the Academy, the Academy will implement the existing IEP to the extent possible, or will provide an interim IEP agreed to by parents until a new IEP can be developed. IEPs will be developed, revised and implemented in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Improvement Act (“IDEIA”) and state law and regulations.
The Academy will fully comply with federal laws and regulations governing children with disabilities as follows:
The Academy is responsible for providing a free appropriate public education to children with disabilities enrolled in the Academy that have been determined through an IEP to require Special Education programs and services.
The Academy will ensure that children who are suspected of having disabilities are properly evaluated by a multidisciplinary team, as defined in the Michigan Special Education Rules, and that children who have already been identified are re-evaluated by the multidisciplinary team at least every three years.
When a multidisciplinary team determines that a special education student requires Special Education programs and services, the Academy will ensure that the IEP is fully implemented in accordance with IDEIA, and reviewed on an annual basis or more frequently as determined by the IEP team.
The Academy has a transition program for Academy students to be successful in transitioning from middle school to high school. The transition practices implemented include (a) collaboration between eighth and ninth grade personnel; (b) providing information on schools that may serve as feeder schools; (c) offering a parent night for parents to participate in a conference, with the child and the high school counselors, to discuss the student’s potential high school selection.
In addition, eighth-grade students are provided the skills necessary in preparation for academic success in high school. As such, the following are endorsed in all subject areas (a) time management via a student planner; (b) basic study habits (e.g., prepared for class and completing and submitting assignments); (c) note taking skills; (4) setting and meeting reasonable performance goals; (d) staying organized; (e) making a commitment to learning; (f) staying on target with college aspirations.
All seventh-grade students are required to complete an EDP. The EDP assists students in identifying both career goals and a plan of action to achieve the goals. In this manner, students are provided with an ongoing record of career planning to assist and guide in the selection of careers that align with personal aptitude, interests, and strengths.
The M-STEP is used to measure proficiency, at designated grade levels, in mathematics, reading, writing, science, and social studies. As a criterion-referenced test, it measures academic achievement as compared to the GLCEs. M-STEP results are used to determine if students are improving over time, if improvement programs and policies are having the desired effect, and if the results help to target academic assistance. In addition to the M-STEP, the Academy administers the Northwest Evaluation Association (“NWEA”) Measures of Academic Progress (“MAP”) to obtain specific student learning objectives. Daily formative assessments, under the Formative Assessment for Michigan Educators (“FAME”) initiative are also used. In essence, this “…is a planned process in which assessment-elicited evidence of students’ status is used by teachers to adjust their ongoing instructional procedures or by students to adjust their current learning tactics” (Popham, 2007). Lastly, the Academy uses STAR Math and, AIMS Web as progress monitoring tools for RtI.
The Academy utilizes several strategies to determine the effectiveness of the implementation, delivery, and support of the Educational Program. Academy leadership conducts two formal staff observations, using the teacher evaluation tool, to monitor the delivery of the curriculum and observe effective instruction. In addition to formal observations, leadership conducts several weekly walkthroughs (i.e., informal observations). The formal and informal observations provide opportunities for teachers to receive feedback from leadership that serves to improve instructional delivery.
Another mechanism used to gather information is surveys. The Academy administers surveys to staff, parents, and students to collect perceptual data. Perceptual data may be used to inform curricular decisions instituting changes or modifications to courses that serve to improve the academic needs of all students. Further, the Academy’s PLC, school improvement planning team planning, as well as vertical and horizontal grade level meeting minutes are used to evaluate the Educational Program and when necessary assist in designing programmatic revisions. Lastly, the Academy examines assessment data (e.g., perform item analysis) as a tool to determine academic interventions and curricular changes.
19310 Ford Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48128