“The Duquesne City School District will prepare our students to be successful, ethical, and caring members of a global community.”
The Mission Statement of the Duquesne City School District is supported by a Comprehensive Plan, a Special Education Plan, and a Technology Plan approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Further, to ensure the academic and financial successes of the School District, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas have acted accordingly and approved a Recovery Plan under Act 141 of 2012 with associated Amendments that provide for enforcement of Board policies and procedures, academic and financial matters, including oversight of District operations and compliance of state and federal regulations.
Educational Programs, Services, and Professional Development
Duquesne City has implemented strategies to improve academic growth and achievement, including student services to increase attendance, math and reading support programs, and after-school programs for children, youth, and family support.
The School District has made great strides under the Recovery Plan and Amendments during the past several school years, based on a collaborative effort of key stakeholders who have embraced “a positive, can do attitude” with the hope and promise of re-envisioning the future of the Duquesne City School District. Parent and family engagement with school activities, after-school activities, and community youth sports programs have re-energized the school community.
Under the visionary and strategic leadership of the new superintendent of schools and administration, the Rediscover Duquesne campaign has experienced positive feedback and school enrollment has increased recently to a total of approximately 470 students.
The School District has placed great emphasis on professional development by engaging staff through the concept of a Professional Learning Community. The focus continues with best practices for intentional teaching and learning, differentiated instruction, instructional walkthroughs, and a differentiated teacher evaluation system for improved educator accountability. Increased student attendance and improved PVAAS and PSSA results in Mathematics, English Language Arts, and Science continue to be high priorities.
The Duquesne City School District participates with the University of Virginia in the “Partnership for Leaders in Education’ professional development program for administrators and teachers. The Purpose: “Duquesne City will establish a positive, safe, and collaborative environment and through transparent communication, of which all stakeholders will be held to a high level of accountability so that all students succeed academically, socially, and emotionally. The goal is to break barriers, inspire hope, and build a culture that focuses on student success.”
The UVA transformational initiative is to raise educational outcomes significantly and to strengthen the school system and school leadership addressing school climate, classroom management, effective parent communication, discipline referrals, and student growth and achievement. The 2022-2023 Action Plan goals include (1) increase Language Arts proficiency and (2) increase Math proficiency. The leadership development initiative increases the capacity of the School District administrator-teacher leader teams to shape their own future and achieve lasting improvements in student learning. Through a multi-year executive education and on-site partnership, the goal is organizational learning and collaboration that empowers teams to heighten focus, improve internal ways of working, and confront difficult problems. (University of Virginia, Partners in Education Leadership)
Consistent with “turnaround school” strategies, the Administrative leadership team believes that by establishing educational policies and expanding ways to partner with and build capacity for financial and human capital through key stakeholder agencies, there will be significant gains in student achievement and a transformation to a higher-performing school over a three to five year period.
The Duquesne City School District has been a recipient of various state and federal grant opportunities and acknowledges the on-going financial support of the Pennsylvania Department of Education which has greatly contributed to the District’s success of educational programs and services. In addition to the Transformational and Empowerment grants, the Department of Education underwrites the University of Virginia “Partnership for Leaders in Education’ professional development program.
The School District collaborates with key stakeholder agencies and organizations including, but not limited to, Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU 3) for business operations and other regional educational services; the Grable Foundation and Remake Learning Network; Keystone Educational Services for Special Education; PDE Temporary Shelter Support; Carnegie Library-Duquesne Branch; Community Foodbank; Duquesne-West Mifflin Boys and Girls Club; Duquesne Family Center (AIU3); Early Childhood Education; Head Start; Duquesne City Public Works and Police Department; and Communities in Schools. As well, the School District works with the Duquesne City Education Foundation, which will help generate new revenue that will directly impact student educational programs, services, and activities.
The Communities in Schools Initiative is making a positive impact with support services for Duquesne students, educators, and families. The mission is “To surround students of the greater Pittsburgh region with a community of support, empowering them to achieve in school and succeed in life.” The Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Chapter has an assigned specialist who works directly with the school, building relationships that empower students inside and outside the classroom. The partnership between education and community leaders collaborate to accelerate results for children and youth through integrated student support systems. (Communities in Schools, 2023)
Also related to innovation and instructional technology, Duquesne K-8 school collaborates with Duquesne University and participates in the Education Uncontained – Coding 4 Culture Initiative. The initiative focuses on female students in grade 6 and their families to teach the basics of block-based coding and basic website design. The initiative underscores leadership skills, lesson design, and public speaking. Participating students presented at the International Society for Technology (STE) in Philadelphia to showcase their accomplishments on an international level. (Duquesne News, Issue IV, July 2019)
The School District has made progressive strides under the Act 141 of 2012 Recovery Plan and Amendments, based on a collaborative effort of key stakeholders who embrace the conceptual framework of re-envisioning the future of the Duquesne City School District.
Although the entities of municipal government and public education obviously each face its own set of challenges -- low-socio-economic status, poverty-stricken levels, funding, underserved populations, and societal issues similar to other urban centers -- there is an optimistic outlook that has the potential to build on many school community successes to date.
With a “positive, can do attitude” and with the support of state government in conjunction with respective Recovery Plans and Amendments, both entities have a unique opportunity to work together for continued progress.
By renewing our efforts and working towards a brighter future, the Duquesne community can further benefit children, youth, families, and its citizens. The triangular relationships among business, education, and community are an integral part of working together for meaningful progress. Therefore, it is this notion that provides the basis for a vision of hope and promise for the future, embracing the fact that “The School is the Center of the Community”.
“Education is not a thing apart from life—not a “system,” nor a philosophy; it is direct teaching how to live and how to work together.”― Booker T. Washington
The School District is committed to innovation and continuous school improvement. The Superintendent, as an advocate for children and youth, has high expectations and accountability for all students, educators, support staff, and the community. Advocating for children and youth has a direct correlation to student growth and achievement through teacher collaboration; interim assessments and progress monitoring; and analyzing student data results regularly and often. District leaders have a core belief that planning and executing lessons based on best practices and understanding that assessments drive instruction are paramount to effective teaching and learning.
S.T.E.A.M (science, technology, engineering, arts, and technology) programs, including digital classrooms with state-of-the-art technology and makerspaces for hands-on project-based learning have transformed teaching and learning. With the support of foundation funds and state grants, educational programs and services have been enhanced considerably and educators are focused on increased student growth and achievement. (DCSD Website, 2019) The School District initiatives are supported by the Grable Foundation and are associated with Remake Learning which is a network that ignites engaging, relevant, and equitable learning practices in support of young people navigating rapid social and technological change. (Remake Learning Website, 2019)
Apple Distinguished School
Duquesne Elementary School is working to be designated as an Apple Distinguished School (ADS), demonstrating continuous school improvement through the use of iPad, iMac, and MacBook devices since 2013. Beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, every student has their own iPad to use during the school day; and, every teacher has the use of MacBook and iPad devices. This achievement is commonly referred to as a 1:1 School. The Maker Space Labs in the school are equipped with iMac and MacBook devices to participate in classroom activities and to complete assignments. Apple defines ADS schools as “centers of leadership and educational excellence that demonstrate Apple’s vision for learning with technology.” Students, faculty, and administrators are working diligently to receive the Apple accreditation. (Duquesne News, Issue IV, July 2019)
Guiding Principles for Academic and Financial Success
- Make educational and financial investments based on best practices, proven methods, and strategies for long‐term success
- Enhance the quality of educational programs and services to meet the academic, behavior, emotional, and social needs of all students
- Maintain a focus on effective teaching and learning, student achievement and growth, and improved performance on state assessments
- Promote an open work environment where all employees experience empowerment, ownership, and accountability to grow professionally
- Make targeted investments, reallocate resources, and provide educational support services for learners
- Strike a balance between what is educationally sound for students and fiscally responsible for taxpayers
- Streamline operations, maximize human and financial resources, and eliminate unnecessary spending
Examples of significant academic highlights include, but are not limited to:
- PSSA, PVAAS, and Future Ready Index results are closely monitored, noting that assessments drive changes with instructional techniques and methods
- Extraordinary efforts continue to improve curriculum, instruction, assessments, and technology
- Educators meet regularly as Professional Learning Communities to analyze and interpret data to positively impact instruction and assessment
- Title I Parent Engagement, Family Resources Network, and Communities in Schools are effective
- English as a Secondary Language instruction continues based on ESL surveys and individual student needs
- Special education teachers are engaged with progress monitoring to meet state and federal regulations
- Students and families continue to receive support for social services based on district resources and identified intervention needs and levels
Visionary, Strategic, and Operational Goals
- Revise the Five-Year Public Financial Management Plan annually for the Duquesne City School District and further embrace effective and comprehensive accountability and responsibilities for academic and financial success; wise investments for facility improvements and school safety; and generate new revenues and support for fiscal stability.
- Embrace the Duquesne City Education Foundation to promote the core belief that “The School is the Center of the Community” with a primary purpose of generating new revenues for educational opportunities that directly impact student programs, related facilities, services, and activities.
- Sanction a comprehensive Educational Assessment for the purpose of expanding educational opportunities that will provide a Pre-K through 8 grade level configuration with an enhanced continuum of programs, services and activities; that repurposes building use space; and that reduces tuition payments paid to neighboring school districts.
- Construct a new football stadium for athletics, community youth sports, and other recreational community activities through a comprehensive and ambitious fund-raising campaign; and, further identify options for facility maintenance repairs, upgrades, and basic renovations that support educational specifications.
- Develop a Collaboration Plan that enhances the professional working relationship between and among City government, School District, Communities in Schools, non-profit, faith-based, business and community, health and human services, and other family-network agencies.
- Continue the partnership with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, to meet the growing demand for educational opportunities and to meet the individual needs of Duquesne City students for a more cost-effective and efficient delivery of services.