Carman-Ainsworth Community Schools
Executive Summary of School System Profile
Often when groups of educators are gathered for a professional learning experience, they are reminded that "All children can learn." This statement usually evokes a common reaction; a combination of agreement and hopeful determination coupled with a desire for clarification about what the statement means and often, some discomfort and lingering doubt. The source of the agreement and determination is easy, educators seek their roles hopeful of impacting the learning and formation of children. If one could peel back the layers of the lingering doubt however, there is a good chance the doubts aren't so much centered on the belief that all students can learn as it is on our own self doubt as educators "Can we teach all children to learn?"
When you visit the Carman-Ainsworth Community Schools, you are visiting a system that has had to deal with those doubts. In less than two decades, our district has been challenged to adapt and evolve based on the changing needs of our students, families and community. During that time the percentage of our students living in poverty has quadrupled, and while it was once the norm to start kindergarten and move through the system to graduation, during the last three years, over 20% of our student body was either new to, or returning to the district, each school year.
We have many "Points of Pride" to share with stakeholders and visitors. As with many outstanding organizations, what really makes us special is hard to capture because it is embedded in everything we do. Our number one Point of Pride is that to the greatest extent possible, as a total district staff, we are done worrying about what the learners used to be like. We are done worrying about "how low" or "how far behind" students may be when they enter or re-enter our system.
Rather, there has never been more focus on serving and demonstrating our professional efficacy by clearly showing that our curriculum, instruction and interventions make a difference. As educators, there has been a significant shift in our mindset. We have stopped trying to get the "old results" with our new students. Instead we are working together (in ways never contemplated two decades ago) attempting to make good on a guarantee that all students will gain at least a year of learning by spending a year in our system.
As a district this shift in perspective is calling us to do many things, often relating to the need to work more as a school system as opposed to an affiliated system of schools. We have acted to become more "common" in what we teach, when we teach it, and how we monitor the impact of our teaching. We have well-formed professional learning communities not only to examine current learning data, but to make connections between teaching practice and learning results, as well as failure to learn and appropriate interventions.
We are not yet a "well oiled machine" but we have overcome the biggest hurdle; we have developed a belief in our capacity, we have defined our success, and we believe success is doable. We hope that everyone connected to or visiting our district can see our focus, sense our pride, and find clear evidence of our resolve to serve and improve.
Information helpful in visualizing our district
Stretching over a twelve-mile narrow band along the Interstate-75 and U.S.-23 corridor, the Carman-Ainsworth community is an inner-ring suburb of the city of Flint, Michigan. The school district comprises a majority of
Combined with a multitude of traditional neighborhoods, blue-collar bedroom communities, a smattering of working farms, and a growing number of rental properties, the region is also home to the commercial hub of
The Carman-Ainsworth community is the most diverse in Genesee County and perhaps one of the most diverse communities in the state, north of the metro Detroit area. Flint Township is home to more houses of worship, primarily Christian, Jewish, and Islamic, than any other municipality in the county. In the entrance to Carman-Ainsworth High School visitors will see some 60 flags representing the countries of origin represented in our student body. The district's diversity is not limited to ethnic and cultural variations, as this evolving community is also home to a wide array of religious beliefs and income levels. The needs of students are changing, with increasing numbers of students exhibiting attributes of children at risk for school failure. Nevertheless, the district continues to demonstrate high achievement in many areas, and our cohesive community values the power of its diversity and maintains a strong positive vision for the future.
For over 34 years, the district has enjoyed a solid reputation for strong academics, comprehensive programs and services, and stable community support for education. The absence of a "downtown," main street, or other traditional community center to serve as a hub for the hourglass-shaped district has resulted in reliance on the schools as the common thread that binds this unique conglomeration of people, places, and things. Currently, the Carman-Ainsworth Community Schools operates the following K-12 Buildings:
Carman-Ainsworth High School (9-12)
Carman-Ainsworth Middle School (grades 6-8)
Dillon Elementary (Grades K-3)
Dye Elementary (Grades K-5)
Randels Elementary (Grades K-5)
Rankin Elementary (Grades K-5)
Atlantis at Woodland (Grades 7-12)
Additionally, the district, with the help of federal funding, operates the Early Head Start program at The Learning Community. With a recent change in grant oversight, the Genesee Intermediate School District has opted to retain the Head Start and Great Start Readiness Programs (GSRP) previously provided the district.
Summary of Student Achievement
When put into the context of a student body that is characterized by a high rate of transiency, increasing economic disadvantage, and significant academic needs, "steady" gains on aggregate measures of learning and "outperforming the county and state" are descriptors that are encouraging to the Carman-Ainsworth staff.
Recognizing the potential power of a systems approach to improving student performance results over time, the Board of Education has adopted the AdvancED Standards of Quality as the blueprint for the district's strategic utilization of resources and school improvement efforts.
In selecting this district accreditation option, it was the Board's hope to realize economies in all areas of student achievement; curriculum, instruction, assessment and professional learning, that would benefit all students, and possibly be of special benefit to an increasing population of randomly mobile students. The Board is also hopeful that the AdvancED Standards will help to increase alignment and convergence in all areas of school improvement accountability, including Title I and EdYes.
To signal this shift in planning and school improvement, the Board sought exhaustive feedback from all stakeholders, seeking to refine and re-iterate its Vision, Mission and Beliefs. At its November 11, 2008 meeting, the Board unanimously approved the following:
Working Together to Guarantee Learning for Every Student
As a school district, we add value and increase community confidence when we demonstrate our professional skill and our commitment results in learning gains for every student, from the highly able learner to the severely challenged learner.
This aspiration becomes even more realistic when all CA staff members take ownership for student learning, and when we are able to engage families and community organizations to support student learning.
We will gather data and report to the community on our success in achieving the following goals:
Indicators of success:
- All Carman-Ainsworth Community School Buildings will achieve Adequate Yearly Progress.
- All students will achieve a minimum of a year of learning for a year of attendance and instruction.
- All students achieving below grade level will demonstrate an acceleration of learning beyond one year of growth for a year of attendance and instruction.
- Carman-Ainsworth High School will achieve a 0% drop-out rate.
Indicators of success:
- All stakeholders will report satisfaction in the District¡¯s efforts to provide safe, nurturing, learning environments and demonstrate an unmistakable commitment to service.
- Our community will report an increased confidence in the value of Carman-Ainsworth Community Schools through a survey.
Indicators of success:
- The District will achieve AdvancED (NCA) District Accreditation Status through the external Quality Assurance Review Process.
- The District will achieve budgetary reductions in non-instructional expenditures.
- All employees will indicate how their role helps to achieve the District Vision through a survey.
- High expectations
- Successful learning opportunities
- Rich cultural experiences
- A needs-fulfilling environment
- Family and community involvement
- An environment which ignites a passion to continuously learn
- Equitable access to quality programs
- An unwavering commitment to continuous improvement.
- Has unlimited potential
- Has a right to be safe and to be respected
- Is empowered through learning
- Needs to be proficient in 21st century skills
- Needs clear expectations
- Should understand the value of service
- Must learn to communicate effectively
- Should treat others as they would want to be treated.