Since 2012, Cleveland Transformation Alliance’s annual Cleveland Plan Progress Report has served as a community benchmark, highlighting bold ideas and incremental progress toward Mayor Frank Jackson’s transformative vision for Cleveland public schools.
In the eight years since its inception, the challenges affecting Cleveland’s education landscape have not changed — too many Cleveland families continue to live in poverty and racial and socioeconomic disparities are ever present. Nonetheless, The Cleveland Plan has created measurable, powerful momentum that will benefit generations of students and families.
“This year marks the first year that the CMSD’s high school graduation rate is over 80 percent. That is a 28 percentage point increase in a decade. This progress equates to millions of dollars in earning potential for thousands of young Clevelanders,” according to Cleveland Transformation Alliance executive director Meghann Marnecheck. And with the launch of Cleveland’s Say Yes to Education program, the pathway to college for these high school graduates is clearer than it has ever been.
The 2020 report also celebrates goals met and exceeded for Cleveland’s youngest learners, such as kindergarten readiness (67% of students on track) and pre-school language and literacy (52% of students on track). PRE4CLE, Cleveland’s 2014 plan to expand high-quality preschool to all 3-and 4-year-olds has been instrumental in this progress.
Parents at the Center of the Conversation
More than any other external factor, the effects of COVID-19 have created disproportionate challenges for Cleveland public school students. And as we look ahead, overcoming those challenges has reinforced our commitment to connecting directly with parents/families to guide our work and partnerships. We recognize parents as the primary stakeholders in their child’s education. Through our 2020 family survey and informal “Family Café” events, parents/families have shared the following concerns about school choice:
Overcoming the Digital Divide
Another pressing concern is that Cleveland students should not have their academic progress threatened by the digital divide. With Cleveland ranking the highest percentage of households without broadband Internet accounts of any U.S. city with 100,000 or more households — i.e. the worst connected big city in America. As it became clear that schools would remain closed, “our educators responded in ways that some would argue is outside their responsibility,” said Marnecheck, noting the extensive supports, including meals and technology, provided through home/school connections during the pandemic.
“This community has come together to quickly respond to a crisis” with teachers, counselors, and community programs across the city working tirelessly to connect virtually with families and students since the pandemic transitioned all CMSD schools, and many Cleveland charter schools, to online learning in March of 2020. CMSD and our partner charter schools have distributed approximately 30,000 computers and 12,000 hotspots between last spring and this fall. These efforts have been generously supported by local philanthropy.
Per the 2020 Cleveland Plan Progress Report: “The Cleveland Plan is working. Students are reaching the highest achievement levels in recent history. As a community, we must work together to continue to build upon these gains so that our children can reach their highest potential. Much like we have come together to respond to the digital divide, we can continue to find ways to support students and their academic achievement.”