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Hamtramck Academy Honored for Exceptional Academic Progress, Growth for Underserved Students

Hamtramck Academy is one of four schools that received the inaugural Building the Hope Schools award from the Education Trust-Midwest (ETM). The ETM conducted a comprehensive review of the school’s performance in various areas before selecting Hamtramck for this award.
 

Hamtramck was recognized because multiple student groups, including Asian students and students from low-income backgrounds, showed exceptional academic progress as demonstrated by exceeding the statewide proficiency rate in both ELA and math for three consecutive years. Hamtramck effectively uses data on an ongoing basis to track student progress and inform individualized instruction. Teachers pay special attention to the differences between state assessment performance and day-to-day performance and utilize daily “exit tickets” to determine needs for further intervention and focused, small-group instruction.
 
“I want to thank Education Trust-Midwest, for choosing Hamtramck Academy for such a prestigious award and recognition,” said Alvin Ward, principal at Hamtramck. “We pride ourselves on preparing well-rounded students for high school and beyond. This recognition signifies that students who come from humble beginnings can be academically successful. Their household income does not determine their success. Students and staff are motivated to be the best and we work hard every day to be the best!”
 
Opening its doors in 2003, Hamtramck Academy now serves 547 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The school is led by a strong academic team: (L to R) Monique Cash, K-2 dean, Korryn Wilkins, 3-5 dean, Alvin Ward, principal, and Metria Washington, 6-8 dean.
 

Students at Hamtramck benefit from a robust team of specialists, interventionists, and paraprofessionals, and intervention groups are varied to reduce stigma and promote an inclusive class environment. Hamtramck Academy also leverages programs and apps like DreamBox, Lexia, and Khan Academy to complement in-class instruction, reinforce lessons, and provide students with extra challenges as needed.
 
Faculty and staff demonstrate a commitment to engaging families and honoring the many cultures represented in their school community by providing Arabic and Bengali translators, engaging in diverse reading materials, and using culturally responsive communication. Their subgroups of students – Black, Latino, Asian, Muslim, low-income, and English language learner students in particular – also perform in the top 30% among Michigan’s high-growth public schools where data is available.
 
The ETM is a nonpartisan, data-driven education policy, research, and advocacy organization that works to close opportunity gaps that disproportionately affect students from low-income backgrounds and students of color. The three other 2021 Building the Hope Schools are: Bennett Elementary, a Detroit Public Schools Community District school; Discovery Elementary, a Kentwood Public School located outside Grand Rapids; and Thomas Jefferson Elementary in the South Redford School District.
 

“At a time of global efforts to ensure all children catch up from their pandemic educational losses – especially vulnerable students – these Michigan public schools are modeling the way for all schools on how to strive to ensure all children are supported to learn at high levels,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of the Education Trust-Midwest.
 
The Building the Hope Schools are in the top 25% for academic proficiency or for above average student growth for all Michigan students. In addition, these schools have culturally and linguistically responsive school-wide practices – including instructional practices – that facilitate students’ outstanding academic progress and growth, making them true outliers in Michigan. All four schools are Michigan public schools.
 
“These schools show that it’s possible not only that learning for students of color and low-income students can soar, but also that public schools can be culturally and linguistically affirming places for children from all backgrounds,” said Arellano.
 

Researchers from the ETM conducted a comprehensive quantitative analysis of each school’s performance. The Ed Trust-Midwest analyses examined data for the 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 school years. Analysts and team members also conducted qualitative analyses, through visits and interviews, of the schools’ learning environments before selecting the winners.
 
The awards were presented in an online ceremony on Nov. 10, during ETM’s inaugural Education Summit 2021: Building a Movement, Building Hope. The aim of the summit is to inspire, build knowledge of participants, and showcase best practices from across the country around what works to improve outcomes for students that have historically been underserved.
 
On Saturday, Nov. 13, Principal Ward will speak in the ETM conference breakout session titled, “What It Takes: Perspectives from Principals of Strong Performing Schools.” In his session, Ward and another award-winning principal, James Kinsey from South Redford School District, will highlight promising ideas and practices from schools that have consistently shown strong proficiency and/or growth outcomes for students of color and students from low-income households.
 

The conference brings together leaders from business, civic, and philanthropic sectors, along with educators and advocates, to learn, strategize, improve student achievement, and provide access to opportunity for all students.
 
Hamtramck Academy, a school in Hamtramck, Michigan, is a partner school in the National Heritage Academies network of over 90 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.