The past 12 months have been an unprecedented year of accomplishments for Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ students, teachers, and leaders, leading to an impressive array of honors and achievements for the school district at the state and national levels. The Miami-Dade School Board’s leadership has fostered a legacy of which this community can be justly proud.
M-DCPS’ graduation rate jumped nearly five points for the 2011-2012 academic year, as calculated by following U.S. Department of Education guidelines. The federally calculated graduation rate for 2010-11 was 71.3 percent; last school year it rose to 76.0 percent, surpassing the state both in rate of growth and total percentage points.
M-DCPS leads the country in Advanced Placement (AP) exam scores among Hispanic students, and is also seventh in the country in African American/Black AP exam scores of 3 or above. M-DCPS students outperformed students in many major U.S. cities in the National Assessment of Educational Progress Trial Urban District Assessment in science, mathematics and reading.
In U.S. News & World Report Best High Schools rankings, five schools made the grade as America’s 2012 Best High Schools: Design & Architecture Senior High (DASH), Young Women’s Preparatory Academy, Maritime & Science Technology Academy (MAST), Coral Reef Senior High, and New World School of the Arts (NWSA). In the Best Magnet Schools category, three Miami-Dade schools made the top 20: DASH, Young Women’s Preparatory Academy, and MAST.
Our education professionals were also recognized as the best among their peers this year. Dr. Rosann P. Sidener, principal of Miami Beach Senior High School, was selected as the 2012 Florida Association of School Administrators’ Principal of the Year. Alexandre Lopes, a Pre-K, Special Education teacher at Carol City Elementary School, was named the 2013 Florida Department of Education/Macy’s Teacher of the Year, having been selected from among 180,000 teachers in Florida for the honor. Dr. Kevin Williams, principal at Norwood Elementary School, was honored with the $25,000 Milken Educator Award, which celebrates, elevates and activates excellence in the profession. And the Florida Department of Education recognized this district’s leadership with the District Data Leader of the Year Award for innovative and effective use of data to drive student performance.
In an ultimate national victory, M-DCPS was named winner of the 2012 Broad Prize for Urban Education, an annual award that honors urban school districts across the country that are making the greatest progress in raising student achievement. This is the fifth time that M-DCPS had been recognized as a finalist.
In the November elections, voters approved a $1.2 billion general obligation bond to modernize, replace and construct schools throughout the district, including technology upgrades at all schools. Approval of the bond was essential to the district as it sought a sustainable long-term solution to providing 21st century schools for all Miami-Dade students.
Planning is underway as the membership of the 21st Century School Bond Advisory Committee is finalized, and shortly thereafter, design and construction work will begin at many schools with critical needs, thanks to the gift of school bonds bestowed on us by the community we serve.
M-DCPS was selected by the U. S. Department of Education to receive a $30 million Race to the Top District grant to personalize student learning, improve student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps, and prepare every student to succeed in college and careers.
We will work to continue our record of success, managing expectations and maintaining a high level of performance in an environment of increased standards, including the full implementation of new Florida Board of Education policies designed to comply with the federal education waiver.
We will enhance the safety envelope around our schools in collaboration with the county’s mayors, cities and police departments,
We are hopeful that our partnership with our Tallahassee leaders will result in further economic stability after years of devastating economic blows. We will continue to fight for fair but compassionate accountability for English language learners and students with special needs, and for the special education centers that serve them, as well as equitable accountability requirements for all publicly funded schools.
We are extremely appreciative of the hard work of teachers and school-site leaders who have worked so hard to fulfill the mission of providing our children with the high quality education they deserve. We are also deeply grateful to a caring community that has been so supportive of our work.
Alberto M. Carvalho is superintendent of Miami-Dade Public Schools.