Project Hamtramck Aims to Improve Students’ Learning Skills

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The Engineering Society of Detroit is teaming up with Hamtramck Public Schools to develop and implement a plan of action that adds early childhood literacy and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education programs to the 3,000-student school district.

Called Project Hamtramck, the effort is designed to overcome the state’s problematic education landscape. From the most recent Michigan Education Assessment Program, or MEAP scores, only 29 percent of Hamtramck’s eighth graders are proficient at math at or above grade level, and just half of the students can read at or above grade level. According to the ESD, Michigan now ranks 47th in the reading proficiency of fourth graders.

Christopher J. Webb, co-founder and director of the ESD Institute, who recently received the ESD’s Horace Rackham Humanitarian Award, says Project Hamtramck says boosting reading comprehension, for example, leads to self-respect, respect for others, and economic and social inclusion.

“This is why we must build a sustainable model for ‘Next Public Education’ that can be replicated and scaled to other communities,” Webb says. “Just like any successful construction project or manufacturing facility, we will bring all the pieces together into an integrated and optimized educational delivery system with a welcoming community to achieve the necessary outcomes that will give our children a future.”

To get the ball rolling, the ESD plans to hold a three-day symposium this summer to develop a strategy, with the goal of implementing Project Hamtramck by January or September of next year. As the partners move forward, they will generate a model that can be replicated and scaled to communities across Michigan.

Webb stresses the effort will be comprised of “systems thinking — it will not be a ‘program.’” To that end, the partnership will apply for the state of Michigan’s Social Impact Bonds, in which outcomes will be funded based on results, not mere activity.

For more information about Southfield-based ESD, a multi-disciplinary society uniting engineering, scientific, and allied professions to enhance professional development and foster excitement in math and science among future leaders, visit esd.org.

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