Becoming the Model for Urban Education


Learning Services International (LSI) has worked with DMPS to develop the School for Rigor model. In November 2018 LSI issued a report on how Schools for Rigor are helping DMPS to improve student achievement, increasing equity, and close the achievement gap. Click here to download a copy of the complete report.

Thanks to the dedication and hard work of nearly 33,000 students and 5,000 employees, and the steadfast support of our families and community partners, Des Moines Public Schools continues its rapid progress towards becoming the nation’s model for urban education.

DMPS has begun an exciting new phase of this journey with the creation of Schools for Rigor.

What are Schools for Rigor and why do we need them?

Schools for Rigor will be places where our students, teachers and principals experience the academically demanding teaching and learning required by the Iowa Core.

DMPS, our parents and community members all know that student mastery of the Iowa Core standards will ensure that students are able to perform the 21st century skills that they will need for success in higher education and in future careers. These skills include critical-thinking, analysis, deduction, creativity and the ability to work both independently and cooperatively in teams to solve complex problems. We recognize that this kind of learning is very different from what most of us experienced in school as we were growing up.

It also requires teaching that is very different from the way most of our educators were trained. For this reason, our principals and teachers will participate in accelerated, intensive training in strategies to transform their schools and classrooms into student-centered places of engaging and academically demanding learning.

When will we see Schools for Rigor in DMPS?

During the 2016-17 school year, six schools began the process of becoming Demonstration Schools for Rigor: North High School; Weeks Middle School; Findley Elementary School; Howe Elementary School; Lovejoy Elementary School; and Perkins Elementary School.

In the 2017-18 school year 16 additional schools will receive support to make the transition to becoming a School for Rigor

Click here for a current list of participating schools.

Why not transform all schools into Schools for Rigor at the same time?

Change is hard, and we know that this transformation will require much from our teachers and their principals. We have made the deliberate decision to phase in Schools for Rigor, beginning with schools where there is the greatest level of readiness for change. The success of these “pioneer” schools will be critical because they will be the first demonstration sites for the rigorous, 21st Century teaching and learning that we will eventually expect from all DMPS schools.

Rest assured that, throughout this phased rollout of Schools for Rigor, all DMPS schools will continue to receive the support and attention they need to provide the high quality education that our children deserve.