Following Fall Count Day on Oct. 3, Tecumseh Public Schools has 2,800 learners enrolled for the start of the 2018-19 school year.
“The district is proud to report that 96% of our families chose to return to Tecumseh Public Schools,” said Dr. Kelly Coffin, superintendent. “They recognize that TPS provides outstanding educational opportunities for their children, and is giving them a solid foundation for a lifetime of learning.”
A smaller kindergarten class, families relocating out of state and the implementation of the district’s Strategic Design were contributing factors to a larger-than-average dip in enrollment this fall.
“Enrollment at TPS has remained stable over the past five years. Some of our neighboring districts have lost up to five percent of their enrollment in a year’s time without making any changes,” Coffin said.
TPS committed to a new instructional delivery model with the introduction of its STEAM Centers for grades seven and eight in the 2017-18 school year, and following recommendations received from a facility usage study in 2014, grades Young 5 through eight were redistributed across school buildings to better utilize district buildings.
“We are the only district to implement a change in the way we educate learners, and we expected that some families would choose to explore other options as a result,” Coffin said. “The first year after any significant change is challenging, and I respect parents’ rights to make decisions they feel are in the best interest of their children.”
The implementation dip is a part of change in any organization. In his book, Leading in a Culture of Change Michael Fullan said, “All successful schools experience implementation dips as they move forward. The implementation dip is a dip in performance and confidence as one encounters an innovation that requires new skills and new understandings.”
Other districts across the state and the country are implementing elements of customized learning and are experiencing the same challenges as they introduce the concepts to their communities.
“I’ve spoken with superintendents from other districts, and they are seeing the same implementation dip, but they are also committed to meeting each learner where they are,” Coffin said. “We each are approaching this change in a different way, but we all have the same desired outcome - to provide exceptional learning opportunities for each and every student.”
In response to feedback gathered from stakeholders throughout the 2017-18 school year, the district made adjustments to processes and procedures in each of the buildings.
“We made improvements throughout the school year last year, worked hard this summer, and have had an amazing start to this new year,” Coffin said. “Our administrators have surveyed and spoken with the families who left. Their input is valued as we continue to work to make adjustments to meet the needs of our learners.”
The district expects some learners will return to TPS. In the meantime, class sizes are at ideal sizes - averaging 21 learners per class in kindergarten through second grade, and 24 learners per class in the second through sixth grades.
“We knew that not everyone would be comfortable with customized learning, and we understand that, but we’ve also welcomed 124 new learners to TPS in response to the changes we’ve made across the district,” Coffin said. “I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of the families who have researched, asked questions, provided suggestions and committed to working together to provide the ideal learning experience for our learners.”