Associate Professor of Mathematics Education Jennifer Lewis quoted in Detroit Free Press "Detroit Superintendent Nicolai Vitti aims big, says "Our kids can achieve at high levels"

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Detroit Free Press, 2/12
Detroit Superintendent Nicolai Vitti aims big, says "Our kids can achieve at high levels"
By Lori Higgins

The Detroit school board has approved an ambitious agenda for the next five years that calls for raising reading proficiency among third graders, increasing college readiness among high school students, reducing chronic absenteeism and making sure every child in the district has a digital device. The goals are key to an academic turnaround in the district. The district's rebuilding efforts — and Superintendent Nikolai Vitti's job — could depend on meeting those goals. Time is key, said Jennifer Lewis, associate professor of mathematics education at Wayne State University. Detroit teachers, she said, have been "bringing everything they can to what they're doing." But the district hasn't had serious professional development for nearly two decades, she said. "They don't have the latest training, materials, knowledge. That's going to take a while to catch up, to rebuild." What's known from urban school reform is that big gains don't happen right away, and the first couple of years could bring some decline. That's why patience is important for parents, school board members and others, Lewis said. "If all those folks have patience and they don't try to keep changing course every year ... in five years you will see dramatic increases. But it will take five years." That may not be comforting for all. "If you have a child in the second grade, it has to get better now," Lewis said.