Community partnerships expand unique opportunities for UCS students in 2017-2018
Community partnerships expand unique opportunities for UCS students in 2017-2018
Posted on 08/31/2017

A series of community partnerships are paving the way for expanded opportunities for 28,000 Utica Community Schools students in the 2017-2018 school year.

“Utica Community Schools continues to develop partnerships that give students access to opportunities that create a competitive advantage in college and careers,” said Superintendent Dr. Christine Johns. “These offerings support our district’s work to prepare students for successful post-secondary experiences, ensure all students have access and the skills to be successful in rigorous programs, and give graduates a competitive advantage to the best jobs today and tomorrow by leveraging technology and innovation.”

Developing a love of reading through Virtual Library Card

All Utica Community Schools students will have access to a whole new digital world to further their love of reading, thanks to a virtual library card offered through a partnership with the Suburban Library Cooperative.

Through on an online library account, K-12 students will have digital access at no cost to special collections and reference resources at their local libraries, including eBooks, music and eMagazines. Students and parents will also be able to connect with free online tutoring services through Tutor.com.

The card is possible through the support of municipal leaders from the libraries that serve UCS students – Sterling Heights, Clinton-Macomb, Shelby Township, Ray Township and Utica. Parents will receive information about the free services at fall open houses.

Offering greater opportunities for computer science

UCS will continue to expand computer science offerings through its partnership with Code.org.

The district was among one of the first in the nation to work with the non-profit organization for professional development resources to integrate coding lessons in elementary media programs and expand programs for secondary students.

This year, the district will offer a course at Bemis, Heritage and Shelby junior high schools that will allow students to explore introductory concepts of coding and computer science.

The course, called Computer Science Discoveries, also promotes computer science as a medium for creativity, communication and problem solving.

According to Code.org, there are more than 500,000 computer jobs available nationally and less than 43,000 computer science graduates. In Michigan alone, Code.org reports that there are 13,923 jobs available today and only 1,793 graduates.

Over the past year, the national non-profit organization has been working with elementary media center teachers to integrate coding lessons into UCS curriculum.

Elementary lessons begin as early as kindergarten and include lessons such as algorithms, digital footprints, vocabulary strategies and problem solving.

Secondary teachers have been trained on integrating coding concepts into Algebra 1 courses taken by every UCS student. The district will also expand an Advanced Placement Computer Science Course to include both Eisenhower and Utica high school students.

Promoting Success in College Level Courses

UCS is extending its partnership with the College Board by becoming one of three districts in the nation to build student confidence and success for higher-level courses and college success.

The College Board, which administers the SAT and Advanced Placement program for students nationwide, worked with district teachers last year to integrate the development of advanced skills in two sections of English 11 and Algebra II courses at each of the district’s four high schools.

UCS teachers introduced instructional modules, performance assessments and professional learning resources that placed challenging and engaging student work at the center of classroom practice.

In its first year, teachers reported that more students have the confidence to pursue more rigorous courses, such as Advanced Placement.  Students also reported they were better prepared for the SAT, which is now part of the Michigan Merit assessment for all high school students.

Courses have been expanded this year for students in all English 11 and Algebra II courses at Eisenhower, Henry Ford II, Stevenson and Utica high schools.

Ensuring All Students Increase Academic Rigor

UCS is among 117 districts nationally participating in the Lead Higher Initiative, which promotes participation for all students in college-level course-work.

As a member of Lead Higher, all four comprehensive high schools (Eisenhower, Henry Ford II, Stevenson and Utica high schools) receive technical assistance from Equal Opportunity Schools (EOS). The UCS Board of Education has adopted a policy to ensure excellence, equity and access among all students in district programs.

EOS provides data that measures demographic participation in college-level courses, coordinates a strategy for addressing gaps between the programs and the district’s overall student profile, and supports implementation of instructional strategies that supports the learning needs of all students.

The Lead Higher initiative builds on the district’s success to have more students participating and achieving in rigorous courses. The district now offers 32 Advanced Placement courses.

Expanding College and Career Planning Tool

The district is expanding the online College and Career planning tool Naviance for all secondary students and families.

Naviance provides tools to identify strengths; set academic and career goals for the future; research careers; research colleges; prepare for the SAT test; research and apply for scholarships; and build a resume. The parent research tool is known as Family Connection.

UCS was the first Macomb County district to offer the service to parents and families when it was introduced two years ago in grades 9-12. The service is being expanded this year for grades 7-8.

Providing parents with tools for success

All UCS students and parents will be able to access the free electronic resources offered in the district through a “UCS Success Toolkit.” 

The Success Toolkit will be located on all UCS websites and the mobile app beginning September 5. 


New resources such as the Virtual Library Card and Family Connection for junior high students can be easily reached through the Success Toolkit.  Familiar resources such as
Discovery Ed, Dreambox, Khan Academy and PowerSchool will also be one-click away in the Toolkit.

 

Adding to Back to School excitement through Bond Issue projects

UCS students are returning to more than 60 building projects at schools across the district as part of a $112.5 million bond issue approved by voters in 2009.


As approved by voters, 2009 bond issue projects are focused on three key areas: addressing building safety and infrastructure needs identified through long-range planning, creating parity between district schools and upgrading technology.


Summer 2017 bond issue projects at sites throughout the district include select areas for replacement of flooring, roofs, gym and bleachers, classroom cabinets and counter tops, sidewalks and parking lots. The projects also include sites with needed upgrades in heating and cooling and athletic fields.


The bond funds are also supporting the purchase of technology. At the early elementary level, the district is replacing iPads for a nationally-recognized personalized blended learning model. At the secondary level, new laptops to support the junior high computer science course offered in partnership with Code.org.


By law, bond issue funds can be used only for capital improvements authorized by voters. The bond issue funds may not be used to support day-to-day operations of the school district, such as teachers or utility costs.


More information on Utica Community Schools is available at
www.uticak12.org.  Updated news is also available through the district’s social media sites (links to all school and district sites are available at www.uticak12.org/socialmedia or by downloading the UCS mobile app.