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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Background on the President’s Trip to Miami Central Senior High School

On Friday, the President will visit Miami Central Senior High School with former Governor Jeb Bush and Secretary Duncan to discuss how winning the future in education will require investments that promote a shared responsibility among everyone involved; reform at the state and local levels; and focus on achieving results. Central, chronically one of Miami’s lowest achieving schools, has been engaged in rigorous turnaround work and has seen some early successes. Last year, the Department of Education awarded states $3.5 billion in School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding and Florida received $170.2 million. The State, in turn, awarded Miami-Dade School District nearly $14 million to turn around its 19 persistently lowest achieving schools.  This year, the Obama Administration will award an additional $545,000,000  in SIG funds.
In order to receive SIG funds schools must implement one of the following four models:

  • Turnaround Model: Replace the principal, screen existing school staff, and rehire no more than half the teachers; adopt a new governance structure; and improve the school through curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and other strategies.
  • Restart Model: Convert a school or close it and re-open it as a charter school or under an education management organization.
  • School Closure: Close the school and send the students to higher-achieving schools in the district.
  • Transformation Model: Replace the principal and improve the school through comprehensive curriculum reform, professional development, extending learning time, and engaging the community and families

Miami Central Senior High School was awarded $784,700 in SIG funds and is implementing the turnaround model.  As part of the implementation of this model Central has:

  • Promoted a strong school leader to become the new principal
  • Replaced more than half the staff
  • Extended learning time by adding after school instruction in reading and math
  • Received additional instructional support from the district’s turnaround office to improve the quality of teaching and learning  
  • Expanded the Parent Academy which offers classes for parents on graduation requirements, financial literacy, and how to access student grades, attendance, and information on standardized tests
  • Embraced common planning where teachers come together to create lesson plans and observe one another teach
  • Increased use of technology such as SMARTBOARDS and response clickers for instantaneous assessment of student learning
  • Implementation of Response to Intervention (RTI) to help teachers use data to identify student needs
  • Incorporated interventionists in the classroom to provide small group and individualized instruction to struggling students
  • Utilized a positive behavior support system which includes explicit instruction about civility and behavior, common agreement about acceptable behavior, and rewards for good behavior.
  • Offered a Saturday Academy for first-year teachers on teaching the standards, data analysis, and lesson planning

Miami Central Senior High School was engaged in implementing reforms before receiving federal SIG funds and successfully improved its  scores from an “F” to a “D” on the State’s report card two years ago and then from a “D” to a “C” last year.  Achievement at the school has improved by 40 points in writing and over 60 points in math, and the school has improved its graduation rate over the past 5 years from 36 to 63 percent.  Some of the interventions used include:

  • Hired two Community Involvement Specialists who conduct home visits for truant and disruptive students.
  • Created a Saturday Academy to provide support for students in reading, mathematics, and science.
  • Used data to drive instruction

Miami Central Senior High School is also a powerful empowerment story where students are learning the skills to be entrepreneurs and create their own businesses:

  • Miami Central is one of the largest implementations of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), with over 200 students enrolled
  • Students are in 12 class periods ranging from Information Technology to Health Life Management Skills
  • Community volunteers and business leaders mentor the students, including an “E-Club” where students write business plans and get local-available seed capital to get their business going
  • With students having launched real business (e.g, SD’s Frozen Yogurt Treats, Msz Loka’s Mini Flea), the program has boosted attendance and builds empowerment.

A fact sheet on School Improvement Grants is available HERE