DeWitt Clinton High School is a large comprehensive public high school in the Bronx, NY that is struggling to succeed with its high-need student body. Although the school has had a 115-year history, it has recently begun to fail evaluations by the city Department of Education. DWCHS has a higher percentage of students who are English Language Learners (ELL), disabled, and are eligible for free or reduced price lunch than most New York City public schools. Black and Hispanic students, who compromise the overwhelming majority of Clinton’s student body, also perform the most poorly at the school according to demographic breakdowns from city and state data.
Although Clinton has been told to improve many times over the past few years, progress has not been made. Since it retains the schedule, staffing, and organizational structure of the large comprehensive high school from decades ago, many opportunities remain to turnaround DeWitt Clinton. Mostly using the framework outlined in Anthony Bryk’s Organizing Schools for Improvement, I have drafted a policy memorandum that shows that Clinton can be reorganized to increase academic achievement. There are three main options that the incoming principal has in leading DWCHS: retraining and restructuring to meet the highest levels of need, adapting to attract and improve with the students that the school is already successful with, or guiding the school into closure. The options are in order of preference, with the recommendation being to turnaround the school to meet the highest need. Continue reading “Turning Around DeWitt Clinton High School”