The 2021–2022 school year (SY) saw an influx of newcomers to the District with more than 40 Afghan refugees enrolling in DPSCD (Detroit Public Schools Community District) in May of 2022 alone. Western International High School identified just under 100 newcomers to their school since June 2021 and the District received approximately 120 eligible newcomers this summer enrolling for the 2022–2023 SY. The Office of Bilingual Education has worked collaboratively with the Office of Enrollment to streamline the enrollment process and has extended support to schools to help with students’ transition.
The increase of newcomers requires that we reimagine a districtwide newcomer program that addresses the whole child and ensures that school staff is equipped with the necessary knowledge and tools to create a welcoming environment, provide students and families with connections to added resources, and build their capacity to deliver high-quality culturally-responsive instruction.
Bilingual Newcomer Program Initiative
DPSCD's Newcomer Program supplies educational and social support to all newcomer families that responds to the holistic needs of students. This program looks to affirm the ethnic, linguistic, and cultural identities of the students it serves and partners with families to ensure their students' academic success.
In doing so, our District aims to deliver on the following commitments:
Welcoming, Safe, and Supportive Schools for Newcomers
Newcomers to the District are welcomed and connected with resources and multilingual staff that help support their successful transition into the American education system. Success is measured by positive indicators (rate of completion and score) of a translated End of Year Panorama Survey (Loved, Challenged, Prepared).
Newcomer Families and DPSCD as Partners in Students’ Academic Achievement
Build partnerships between newcomer families and DPSCD that encourage consistent participation in their child’s academic achievement by supplying language and social support where appropriate. Success is measured by parent attendance to listening and engagement sessions, Parent Academy participation, the number of families processed through the McKinney Vento program and requested translation/interpretation services for District and school-based events.
Culturally-Responsive Instruction and Standards-Aligned Curricular Materials for Newcomers
Instruction is delivered by ESL/ELL endorsed and culturally competent educators who use data from the World Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) screener to design individualized language plans for each newcomer and identify appropriate English language interventions. Bilingual Education school support teams and central office staff supply learning opportunities for teachers to build instructional capacity and cultural competency and aid in the selection and evaluation of high-quality instructional materials aligned to English Language Development (ELD) standards that move students toward English language proficiency. Success is measured by individualized language plans (ILPs), professional learning opportunities, and comparative WIDA growth of newcomers who take part in program interventions to those who do not.
Sustainable Systems that Serve Newcomers
Develop districtwide systems that support efficient and swift enrollment, identify newcomers as ELLs (English Language Learners) in alignment with Title III policy timeframe, allow for English Language program progress monitoring (i.e., Limited English Proficient program entry and exit) and respond to students’ academic and social needs. Establish community partnerships to connect newcomers and families with resources that will ensure continued enrollment in DPSCD.