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DPSCD Launches the National modEL Detroit Project Supporting ELA Curriculum

Project incubates shared open educational resources to support teachers across the nation


DETROIT – (March 28, 2019) –Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) and The Skillman Foundation launchedthe modEL Detroit Project, facilitated by StandardsWork. This project provides planning and delivery tools and resources to support English Language Arts (ELA) teachers across the nation with implementing new curriculum for students in grades K-8, more specifically EL Education K-5 Language Arts (provided by Open Up Resources) and Paths to College and Career (published by John Wiley & Sons) for 6-8 reading/language arts.

During this school year, more than 1,100 K-8 DPSCD ELA teachers are using these materials. The District is proud to share them with other school districts and teachers who are implementing the most highly downloaded ELA curriculum in the Nation. These materials are being shared as open educational resources, free of cost, with a Creative Commons Attribute Share-alike license.To date in our district, 1,463 unique visitors (teachers) have used the materials with 193,027 internal site visits this academic year.

“I am proud of our district curriculum team and our teachers. The K-8 curriculum change was not easy for anyone, but the decision was made in the name of what was best for students,” said Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent, DPSCD. “More importantly the change allowed us to partner with national experts in the literacy space to develop guides to better support our teachers in the transition. It meant a lot to have superstars in this field come to Detroit to help us rebuild the district in one of most important areas of reform—quality curriculum. To know that the partnership has created materials that will now be used nationally and in districts throughout the country signals that are comeback is real. This is one of many examples to come as we restore the pride and greatness of our school district.”

The concept, developed in collaboration by the wisdom of National Literacy experts David and Meredith Liben, and the pursuit of an excellent first year implementation by April Imperio, DPSCD Executive Director of K-12 Literacy and Early Learning and Beth Gonzalez, DPSCD Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, is intended to support teachers in leveraging these rich material, reduce the burden of planning as teachers adapt to new materials, and support the District's vision for excellent Instruction across classrooms.

“We’re proud to back this groundbreaking effort to support teachers in Detroit, and now across the nation, with the training needed to implement this best-in-class curriculum with enthusiasm, confidence, and fidelity,” said Tonya Allen, president & CEO of The Skillman Foundation. “To nurture the brilliance of our children, we must also nurture the brilliance of our teachers, supporting them and investing in their continuous development.”

The modEL Detroit Project was led by Meredith Liben, a noted literacy expert with deep knowledge of curriculum development generally and the EL Education curriculum in particular. She has served for eight years as Director of Literacy at Student Achievement Partners and was the lead for StandardsWork on this project. In that capacity, she worked closely with the New York State Department of Education as it created the set of free curriculum resources housed on the EngageNY website. An earlier version of EL Education’s curriculum was developed as part of that project. Teachers from across the country who had years of experience in implementing the materials developed guidance for teachers of their grade level.

“The EL Education curriculum is universally considered outstanding and is one of EdReports’ highest-rated programs, but it represents an enormous change in the way teachers approach their literacy instruction,” said Liben. “We hoped to make it possible for students to enjoy the benefits of the curriculum’s design, even as teachers are learning to implement it well.” Additionally, the project had the support of EL Education's team of experts.

“All students deserve access to a high-quality literacy curriculum that will prepare them for success in school, career, and life,” said Scott Hartl, President, and CEO of EL Education. “We are proud to be part of this transformative partnership. The open-source modEL Detroit Project is an important project to support teachers in the successful implementation of our K-8 Language Arts Curriculum in all Detroit Public School Community District schools.”

DPSCD is thankful to StandardsWork, EL Education, and the Skillman Foundation for supporting the District with this very important project.

As of March 28, 2019, these materials will be available at


About Detroit Public Schools Community District 
Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) is Michigan’s largest public education system. It is governed by a locally-elected, seven-member board with Dr. Nikolai Vitti serving as superintendent. The District’s mission is to provide every student with a beneficial and rightful educational experience, preparing students to be career and college ready, and qualified to compete in the global market. The District has 106 schools and educates 50,000 children. For more information, visit 


The Skillman Foundation
A voice for children since 1960, The Skillman Foundation is a private philanthropy that champions Detroit youth. The Foundation supports quality educational and economic opportunities for Detroit children and equitable civic action that champions the city’s youth. For more information, visit


StandardsWork is a 25-year-old nonprofit organization that works with school districts, state agencies, charter management organizations, and other stakeholders to draw attention to, and help implement, high-impact strategies capable of producing academic improvements in K-12 education. Our current efforts are focused on the vital role curriculum plays in the attainment of college and career ready standards; the importance of building broad knowledge of the world and the vocabulary used to describe it, particularly in the elementary grades; and a greater awareness of the “octane” that specific evidence-based instructional practices can provide teachers.


EL Education
EL Education is a national K-12 nonprofit redefining student achievement in diverse communities across the country, ensuring thatall students master rigorous content, develop positive character, and produce high-quality work. EL Education’s portfolio of instructional materials and coaching services draws on decades of deep partnership with schools and districts in our national school network—those implementing our school model—and in our family of literacy partners—those implementing our Language Arts curriculum. EL Education’s curriculum is a research-informed, standards-based core literacy program that engages teachers and students through compelling, real world content by diverse authors. The curriculum has received the highest marks from and Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuiP). Rigorous impact studies by Mathematica Policy Research demonstrate that teachers significantly improve their craft and students achieve more, regardless of background. In addition to success on standardized tests, EL Education students demonstrate critical thinking, intellectual courage, and emotional resilience; they possess the passion and the capacity to contribute to a better world.EL Education was founded in 1992 by Outward Bound USA in collaboration with the Harvard Graduate School of Education.




Dr Vitti with students at press conference  Dr Vitti with staff at press conference