DCPS partners with XQ Institute

Riley Hawkinson

The XQ Institute announced the launch of DC+XQ, a partnership with DCPS to “reimagine the high school experience”.

Founded in 2015, the XQ Institute is an organization dedicated to rethinking the high-school experience so every student is ready to graduate. XQ works with schools all across the nation to revise, design, and rethink what schools should look like using a state and scaled district model, with a focus on community partnership and sustaining the changes within DCPS.

The specific partnership with DCPS is a district-wide, community-led initiative that invites students, educators, families, and community partners to rethink internal systems of high schools across DCPS. The three-phase initiative is set to take place over 2-3 years, starting with schools submitting a letter of interest March 18, 2022, and beginning implementation of the new designs in 2023 through 2024. 

Phase 1 of the design journey includes connecting with DCPS alum, staff, students, and the general DC community to increase involvement through community information sessions. School principals will then develop teams around who should and needs to be involved in the redesign process, while also ensuring that the DC community is involved in this institutional change. 

“We’re trying to activate the entire community. [That means] we want everybody [from] the person making your Slurpee, to the person in your lyft car, to museum heads. We want everyone at the table with us to rethink high schools,” XQ Chief Program Officer Ursulina Ramirez said. 

Phase 2 involves workshops for creating individualized models to assist for change in each specific school with direct help from XQ staff. Interviews that XQ titles “empathy interviews” will take place to have conversations with everybody in the community. 

“And all of this is to help create a bold idea that [schools] will be ready to implement,” Ramirez said. 

The full redesign process, phase 3, starts in summer of 2022 and goes through the 2022-2023 school year. Phase 3 consists of the school teams prototyping and small-scale launching pilot ideas for policies and infrastructure, engaging students, and revising implementation plans in order to be prepared for full execution of completed redesign models. While XQ provides support in planning, communicating, and constant support, they also provide financially, at one point offering over $2 million dollars to the five high schools that came up with the best high school designs. 

“This is an opportunity to partner with XQ and say to our community, help us innovate, help us redefine the high school experience. And I think [XQ] takes that creative energy and advocacy from the community and forces it into new ideas and ways of thinking that we haven’t thought of before and a level of ownership.” Chancellor Lewis Ferebee said.