Reform Schools

The MEEF campaign has supported the initial start up and continued development costs associated with the new model of student-centered learning at Michigan reform schools.

In Detroit, MEEF funded the start up of 15 reform schools that included the lowest performing schools in the city.  Of these schools, 12 were directly run and three were operated through charters. In 2014, three of the reform schools moved off the priority list of chronically under-performing schools in Michigan.

Tasked with turning around some of the nation’s lowest performing schools, these reform schools were at the forefront of the MEEF efforts to quickly implement, test and disseminate impactful changes to public education in Michigan.


Student centered, blended learning: the reform schools employed a learning model that blended online resources into the classroom where students take responsibility for their learning and participate in planning, goal setting, and produce evidence of what they know and can do based on projects and performance tasks. With the support of MEEF, students at the reform schools were able to become active participants in their learning supported by teachers individually and in small groups.

Portfolio: Reform school students produced evidence of their mastery of subject material creating a portfolio of their work. High school seniors successfully presented these portfolios as part of a final demonstration of their educational achievements and knowledge of subject material needed to graduate.

Leadership training: MEEF has invested in leadership training and development of education providers at schools throughout the Detroit area. These efforts have led to the 2015 launch of the Achievement Leadership Institute that successfully mentored leaders within the reform schools system.


As a start up, the reform schools experienced both success and challenges.  Results from pre-k program and K-8 schools demonstrated significant, steady improvements. Progress at High Schools has been slower and more sporadic reflecting the reality that older students have much to overcome after years of living in poverty and receiving sub-par education.

Reform school leader Chancellor Veronica Conforme has made it clear that the pace of change has been too slow. Since her appointment in November 2014 to lead the reform schools, she instituted a number of changes to accelerate progress by:

  • Providing more autonomy for school leaders and teachers to customize, innovate and provide individualized learning to their students
  • Reorganizing the central office to be in a supporting role for reform schools
  • Improving data systems and providing a clear and equitable school accountability framework
  • Investing in developing the best leaders and most effective teachers for every school
  • Providing an open, community based process for determining its mix of direct run and high-quality charter operators
  • Creating opportunities for older students to experience STEM, Career and Technical Education, and on the job skills


Learn About MEEF’s Other Education Initiatives