Detroit Public Schools Preschool Program At-A-Glance

  • Free public program for families below poverty income
  • Funded by Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP)
  • 1,100 students and 110 classrooms
  • 1 teacher, 1 paraeducator, 1 noon hour aid per classroom


Strengthen literacy, language, and family engagement within a preschool program amid the pandemic.


Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) partnered with Teaching Strategies to implement an integrated solution including The Creative Curriculum, GOLD, and ReadyRosie alongside embedded professional development and coaching.


Within the first year of implementation, students demonstrated strong growth in meeting or exceeding widely held expectations across every domain and displayed significant gains in kindergarten readiness.

In addition, DPSCD demonstrated tremendous success engaging families: 61% of preschool families began using ReadyRosie in the first six months, and they continue to see steady growth in adoption.

In 2019, Detroit sought to amplify preschool literacy and language skills.

In an effort to rebuild Detroit’s public schools, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti released Blueprint 2020 — a comprehensive plan for preschool through 12th grade programs. The plan focused on

  • driving academic
  • improving language
    and literacy skills
  • using a whole-child approach
    and engaging families
DPSCD officially selected The Creative Curriculum and GOLD and made an investment in professional development to ensure a successful implementation.

Director of Early Childhood, Anita Totty, began her search for a new whole-child curriculum and assessment solution with a focus on language and literacy. Ultimately, a committee consisting of twenty-two pre-K teachers and four administrative team members selected Teaching Strategies’ offering from a multitude of options as the solution for the DPSCD preschool programs.

The Creative Curriculum provided exactly what we need in early childhood: developmentally appropriate activities and daily plans providing a strong focus on the foundational skills of literacy and language. We needed literacy power and The Creative Curriculum provided exactly what we were looking for.

Anita Totty
Director, Early Childhood

Additionally, DPSCD chose GOLD for its seamless integration with The Creative Curriculum.

GOLD and The Creative Curriculum connect curriculum and assessment nicely, as they should be. They are embedded tightly together and work hand-in-hand. I don’t know how you would do curriculum or assessment without the other successfully, to be honest with you.
Lesley Jennings
Program Supervisor, Early Childhood
DPSCD added The Creative Curriculum Cloud, online professional development, and ReadyRosie to engage families and respond to the new challenges created by the pandemic.

Once it became apparent that the COVID-19 pandemic would shut down DPSCD on a more permanent basis, Totty and Jennings partnered with Teaching Strategies to offer educators a cloud-based curriculum, online professional learning, and resources and tools to improve communication with families and support learning in an at-home environment.

With the Cloud, we had access to all of the studies and resources. The Cloud made it easier for us as administrators to meet the needs of our staff and of families because it gave us the flexibility that we didn’t have before.

Lesley Jennings
Program Supervisor, Early Childhood

Within the first year, children demonstrated strong growth not only in literacy and language, but across every domain.

By the winter term of 2020, preschool students meeting widely held expectations rose from 22.2% to 63.8% in language and from 29.6% to 79.1% in literacy.

In addition, DPSCD students made significant gains in demonstrating kindergarten readiness—with improvements in language rising from 10% to 50% and in literacy jumping from 5% to 50%.

Successful implementation of GOLD informed instruction and contributed to the improved outcomes.

Teachers and families alike embraced GOLD and used it to capture and document observations that helped inform instruction in the areas of development where children needed the most support.

I have asked families to share pictures from the work they do using the Teaching Strategies At-Home Guided Learning Plans and I converted those pictures into GOLD documentation.

Sarah Avigne
Teacher, Preschool

teacher observations captured by Fall 2020
family observations converted into Child Assessment Portfolios in Fall 2020
completion of Fall 2020 Checkpoint 1
I LOVE Teaching Strategies GOLD! I can take pictures, on the spot, to document skills and upload them directly to GOLD which is a great time saver and makes documentation much easier. Teaching virtually, I can use the app to capture notes in real time.
LaWanda Marshall
Teacher, Preschool
In just six months, 61% of families are actively using ReadyRosie to support learning and document assessment at home.

ReadyRosie helped educators effectively engage families and create opportunities for driving learning, development, and family outcomes.

I liked doing the [ReadyRosie] activity with my child. She enjoyed playing it and I think it helps improve her listening skills.

DPSCD Preschool Parent

We like the one-on-one connection we get with our daughter using ReadyRosie. It has shown us areas that we need to work with her.
DPSCD Preschool Parent
Professional development available anytime, anywhere has made implementation a success.

DPSCD teachers embraced the implementation of the solution through participation in professional learning.

They take at their leisure when it’s convenient for them. They are able to start and stop or go back and redo it. The webinars by Teaching Strategies have been just wonderful. They are catered to our needs as a district. Whatever our need was, Teaching Strategies was right there to provide that support through PD and the webinars.

Anita Totty
Director, Early Childhood

Professional Development


DPSDC teachers participated in Teaching Strategies’ professional development, coaching, and free webinars


online professional development courses have been completed.


DPSCD teachers have completed Interrater Reliability Certification or are currently progressing toward certification for GOLD.

DPSCD leaders plan to continue their valued partnership with Teaching Strategies throughout the pandemic and beyond

I’m loving that everything is just right there (in The Creative Curriculum Cloud). Our world has changed, so we’re changing with it! I don’t think we’ll ever go back.
Anita Totty
Director, Early Childhood
We will never go back. Everything is right at your fingertips—all of the research, the digital resources, the entire curriculum. I don’t know how we would ever function without The Creative Curriculum Cloud in the future, beyond the pandemic.
Lesley Jennings
Program Supervisor, Early Childhood
I don’t know what we would have done without the Teaching Strategies team. We realized that we had a jewel in Teaching Strategies because every time we needed something, we would reach out to the Teaching Strategies team and they would always come through. We are so appreciative of the relationship that we have built with the team. They are just awesome and provide whatever we need absolutely.
Anita Totty
Director, Early Childhood

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