Downey High School Description Thomas Downey High School

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Home Exemplars Downey Unified School District

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Downey Unified School District

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Downey, California

Downey Unified School District, made up of a large economically disadvantaged student population, meets all students’ needs and motivates them to succeed.

School Profile

  • 23,000 students in grades K-12
  • 94% minority population
  • 65% free and reduced lunch
  • 96% graduation rate
  • Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Launch in grades K-5; PLTW Gateway to Technology in grades 6-8; PLTW pathways in Engineering, Biomedical and Computer Science in grades 9-12

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Rethinking the School District

In July 2014, Downey Unified School District (DUSD) developed the Strategic Master Plan (2014-2017) to guide the district in efforts to educate and graduate motivated, productive, responsible and compassionate global citizens. The district engaged local stakeholders including higher education entities, local/regional agencies, businesses, parents, and staff to share their wide-ranging points of view. This gave a space for the community to understand the District’s goals and strategies and to establish the groundwork for stakeholders’ continued support and involvement.

file4In the Strategic Plan, shared values and goals were developed to drive progress of schools. DUSD believes that all students must have access to a positive and challenging learning environment to guide and inspire them in realizing their individual potential and to ensure they graduate college and career ready. The team set the following goals to encourage student achievement: Ensure that all students graduate college and career ready; equip students with the 4Cs as well as civic responsibility; and ensure that all students experience academic progress and success.

Teachers are key to empowering students to achieve and graduate. DUSD desires for teachers to engage and motivate all students in learning, using a rigorous and relevant curriculum based on principles of 21st Century Learning. In order to achieve this, the district hires the best teachers, ensures a highly effective and trained staff through professional learning opportunities, promotes opportunities for shared and distributed leadership, and provides students and staff members access to world-class tools and resources.

Overcoming Obstacles through 21st Century Learning

image003 1Over 65% of DUSD’s 22,698 students live at or below the poverty line, and 94% are from minority populations. Downey has been able to maintain high graduation rates (96%), in part through the innovative and strong investments the District made to building a coherent sequence of Career Technical Education (CTE) courses and pathways. These sequences of CTE courses include: Art and Animation, Professional Dance, Media and Design Arts, Film and Television, Construction Technology, Landscaping, Principles in Education, Computer Science, Biomedical, Engineering and Aeronautics, Financial Services, Health Occupations, Sports Medicine, Culinary Arts, and Law Enforcement. Some pathways such as engineering, begin as early as 7th grade.

A re-branding of the CTE program led the district to embrace the motto, “Great students aren’t born. They’re made.” DUSD promotes the concept of MADE throughout schooling, emphasizing that “making” is an intentional choice and students themselves are the Makers, an idea which begins as early as kindergarten. A total of approximately 1,700 high school students were enrolled in the District’s career pathways program in 2014-2015. CTE courses enable students to transition smoothly from high school graduation to postsecondary education or directly to employment.

In addition, DUSD received a four-year $6 million grant from California Department of Education in 2015 to implement Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Launch in K-5, Gateway in grades 6-8, and enhance/expand PLTW high school pathways including biomedical science, computer science, and engineering. The District plans to offer even more options with the creation of new Advanced Manufacturing and Legal Practices pathways.

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program was implemented at all middle schools and high schools in 2014-15. DUSD identified additional support for AVID by supporting continual professional development through District, County, and AVID Center trainings.

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Pictures

Additional Information

  • STEAM Team website: https://ncarter8.wixsite.com/dusdsteam/program

Videos

  • Downey Unified video:  http://www.dusd.net/downey-unified-brand-identity/
  • MADE video: https://vimeo.com/143832710
  • STEAM Team video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CckyaSl4IiU

Learn more about Downey Unified School District (DUSD) by clicking here .


 Case study compiled by Meredith Miller, P21 Consultant, with Phil Davis, Director, CTE, STEM, and Support Programs, at Downey Unified School District.


 

 

Tags: 2016-2017 , California , Civic literacy , Life and career , Professional development , School District , Student Voice

 

 

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