Building Community and Positive Relationships: How Some D.C. Public Charter Schools are Changing their Climate

By: Brian Robinson, Policy Fellow

Last week the D.C. Public Charter School Board (PCSB) hosted about two-dozen school leaders from across the city to talk about ways they have built a positive school climate. The National School Climate Center defines school climate as “the quality and character of school life.” When schools have a positive school climate, students are more likely to want to attend school, feel safe at school, develop positive relationships with peers and adults, and be engaged with teaching and learning.

Center City PCS – Brightwood Campus was applauded by PCSB for having one of the highest attendance and lowest chronic absenteeism rates in the charter sector. This was true across all subgroups (i.e., special education, at-risk, black, Hispanic students). Some strategies they credit for their success include:

  • Engaging all stakeholders in monitoring attendance. The school’s counselor and operations manager meet twice a week to review attendance data. Teachers flag absences, particularly from students who aren’t usually absent. Parents know the school takes attendance seriously and alert them for planned absences.
  • Using varying strategies for different families. Strategies include daily wake-up calls, home visits, and personalized solutions to encourage students to come to school.

Friendship Tech Prep PCS was credited for increasing academic outcomes, as well as its high attendance and low suspension rates. School administration realized their practice of suspending students was overused and ineffective, so they evaluated different models of addressing student behavior. Most importantly, they included students in these conversations asking them how they want to learn, why they are absent, and how to make school “lit”. Out of these conversations, they made some changes including:

  • Switching to project-based learning, allowing students to engage with their learning in a more practical way.
  • Created committees led by students. The uniform committee created uniforms that students would actually want to wear. The attendance committee made administration aware of issues with bus transportation.
  • Implemented Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) where students receive rewards for early attendance or being “caught” doing good, as well as “dollars” to be redeemed for privileges such as “dress down Fridays”.

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Teacher and Principal Retention

By: Alexander Jue, Policy Analyst

Teachers are the foundation of a quality education, and they are vital to the success of our students and our schools. The goals of excellence and equity in education in the District of Columbia cannot be achieved without a thriving, highly effective teacher workforce.

In May 2018, SBOE contracted with local education researcher and data analyst Mary Levy to produce a report on teacher and principal retention in the District of Columbia. The report was intended to establish a foundation for a deeper investigation of the challenge of retaining highly effective teachers.

In October, SBOE released the commissioned report along with three recommendations. The report found that teacher turnover at the DCPS system level is roughly 19 percent, and average annual teacher turnover at the school level in both traditional public schools and charter schools has consistently been about 25 percent. The report also found that turnover in DCPS neighborhood schools is highest in Wards 5 and 8, but that charter school turnover rates are largely the same regardless of location. At SBOE’s October 24 public meeting, over 15 public witnesses shared their experience on this issue. Continue reading

Looking Ahead: Education Policy Post-2018 Midterms

Education Policy

By: Brian Robinson, Policy Fellow

2018 was huge for education politics. Teacher evaluation systems were on the ballot. Democrats Andrew Cuomo (NY) and Jared Polis (CO) and Republican Bill Lee (TN) won gubernatorial races defending tough evaluation systems while Democrat Michelle Grisham (NM) won her gubernatorial race campaigning on eliminating her state’s system. School choice was on the ballot. Democrat gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsome (CA) won calling for a moratorium on charter schools and Republican Ron DeSantis (FL) won supporting public and private choice options. Some states’ voters approved tax initiatives to fund education while others rejected them. It wasn’t just issues on the ballot. 1,800 educators campaigned for governorships, state legislatures, and congress. Democrat Tony Evers, a school superintendent, defeated Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker while Connecticut elected 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes to Congress.

Now that the dust has settled on the 2018 midterms, where does education politics go from here? Education Week hosted stakeholders at George Washington University to discuss the future of education politics. Here are some takeaways:

  • The Future is ESSA: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has approved plans for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. These plans vary as states have significant flexibility in implementing the law. While it’s too early to analyze its impact on student achievement, the first national overhaul of education following the No Child Left Behind Act will be ripe with research opportunities.
  • States forge ahead without Feds: Partly design, partly frustration. ESSA intentionally transfers power to states in deciding how to measure student progress and turnaround low-performing schools. President Trump made his intentions clear in a 2017 executive order instructing DeVos to modify or repeal regulations or guidance that infringes on state and local school control. States have also challenged the federal government on issues such as regulating student loan servicers.
  • America is still Red for Ed: The movement that saw teacher strikes in traditionally red states like West Virginia, Arizona, and Oklahoma and ushered educators into elected office isn’t fading. Former principal and North Carolina State House candidate Aimy Steele spoke of valuable lessons learned on how to organize, petition government, and use the legislative process to fight for students. Social Studies teacher and newly elected Oklahoma House Representative John Waldron said “you don’t get what you want for your kids by asking nicely.” Policymakers are on notice that they must move the needle on teacher pay and working conditions. Polis has already pledged to create affordable housing for Colorado’s teachers. West Virginia has done the same.

Education politics has the wind at its back. Hopefully this momentum can be sustained to tackle long pressing issues around equity, school violence, mental health, college preparation and affordability, and attracting and retaining high quality teachers for vulnerable student populations. Education Week’s Editor-in-Chief Scott Montgomery says, “our system of politics, our system of education are not meeting expectations.”America must maintain pressure on both systems in 2019 and beyond if we hope to see meaningful results.

Making the Grade: ESSA School Report Card Design Challenge

SBOE Team with Secretary Devos

By: Brian Robinson, Policy Fellow

Last week, the US Department of Education and the Data Quality Campaign welcomed policy makers, parents, researchers, educators, and students from all over the country to the Cleveland Park Library in Washington, DC. Our task was to work in groups to design a prototype for a school report card that meets the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA was signed into law in 2015 by President Obama and requires that state education agencies develop report cards for each school that provides accurate, accessible, and actionable data to the public.

Many states will assign letter grades (A-F) or stars (1-5) to schools based on a pre-determined formula that largely takes into account academic achievement and growth measured by student performance on statewide-standardized assessments. In D.C., policymakers have committed to a School Transparency and Reporting System (STAR) framework. All traditional public schools and public charter schools will receive a STAR rating (ranging from 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the highest).

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SBOE Provides Feedback on Credit Recovery and Personalized Learning Plans

Feedback Photo

By: Alexander Jue, Policy Analyst

In October 2018, the DC State Board of Education (SBOE) was asked by two agencies to submit feedback and comments on a draft policy and a draft research report. The District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) solicited public comment on its draft credit recovery policy that they hope to implement in January 2019, while the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor (ODCA) reached out to SBOE asking for comments on a draft report highlighting options for a personalized learning plan pilot program in the District; the report is scheduled to be released in the coming weeks. Both agencies reached out to SBOE for feedback due to SBOE’s previous work over the past year in both of these issue areas.

Below are definitions from the National Survey on High School Strategies Designed to Help At-Risk Students Graduate (HSS) that provide a high-level definition of the two policy areas on which SBOE recently provided feedback.

  • Credit recovery – The HSS defines credit recovery as a strategy that encourages at-risk students to retake a previously failed course required for high school graduation and earn credit if the student successfully completes the course requirements. Credit recovery courses may be available online or in alternative settings and can be scheduled at different times to suit the needs of the student.”
  • Personalized learning plans – The HSS defines a personalized learning plan as a formalized process that involves students setting learning goals based on personal, academic, and career interests with the close support of school personnel or other individuals that can include teachers, school counselors, and parents. Personalized learning plans are developed in a way that identifies the types of skills students need to pursue their academic and career interests and the steps required to build those skills, which may be attained through traditional educational pathways or through other innovative delivery mechanisms.”

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State Board in the Community: October 2018

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

This month, State Board members ushered in Fall by attending community events, connecting with students and parents, and supporting local DC public schools and public charter schools.

Joe (Ward 6) supported student walkers at the annual #WalkToSchoolDay sponsored by CHPSPO.


Laura (Ward 1)
celebrated the grand opening of Rocketship Legacy Prep.

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SBOE Weekly Ed Links: 10-27-2018

Success at School

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

Check out the latest in education news and events here in the District and around the nation!

SBOE IN THE NEWS
Why are so many DC teachers leaving their jobs? | WTOP

City announces plan to use vacant Shaw site for Banneker expansion | DC Line

DC NEWS
Paying it Forward; DC Moms Teaming Up to End Childhood Hunger | Fox 5
Nothing pulls at the heartstrings like the thought of a child going hungry and three DC mothers are teaming up to Pay It Forward by working to solve childhood hunger in the District.

College admission test scores raise warning signs about math achievement | Washington Post
Scores on college admission tests for the Class of 2018 are sending warning signs about math achievement in the nation’s high schools.

Eight Cities – Washington, D.C. | Bellwether Education Partners
Washington, D.C. is a city of paradoxes: It is the capital of a nation that champions democracy, but its own citizens long lacked a democratic vote in their governance. As the seat of power of one of the world’s richest nations, D.C. sees nearly 17 percent of its residents living in poverty, much higher than the 12.3 percent national average.

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SBOE Weekly Ed Links: 10-20-2018

Colored Pencils

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

Check out our breakdown of the latest in education news here in the District and around the country.

SBOE IN THE NEWS
Report on DC teacher turnover in excess of national average prompts look at ways to improve retention | DC Line

DC NEWS
Mayor Says She Didn’t Know About Events That Led To Her Chancellor’s Resignation. This Report Says Differently | DCist
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has claimed for months that she didn’t initially know about the events which eventually led to the resignation of former schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson. However, a new report appears to challenge what the mayor knew, and when.

Mayor Bowser Announces New Partnership with Bard College | Mayor Bowser
Mayor Muriel Bowser and interim DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Amanda Alexander announced a new partnership between DCPS and Bard College that will provide students the opportunity to earn college credit and an associate degree from Bard College while earning their high school diploma. Opening in school year 2019-2020, Bard Early College High School will be a tuition-free, four-year, early college high school operated jointly by Bard College and DCPS.

D.C. partners with college to offer associates degree to high schoolers in poorest neighborhoods | Washington Post
The District’s public school system is partnering with Bard College in New York to open a school next fall that will allow students to graduate from high school with a two-year college associate degree.

Many families at acclaimed D.C. arts school cleared of enrollment fraud, school leaders and parents say | Washington Post
Administrators and parents at Duke Ellington School of the Arts say a significant share of families accused of residency fraud have been cleared of wrongdoing — an assertion that appears to undermine a high-profile investigation that rocked the acclaimed public arts school in the District.

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A “First Friday” at Briya Public Charter School

Briya Public Charter School

By: Alexander Jue, Policy Analyst

What does two-generation learning mean and how has it been implemented in the District? How do public schools establish themselves as the center of their communities? During a recent visit to Briya Public Charter School’s Fort Totten campus, I had the opportunity to witness this two-generation learning approach, as well as see the additional community and social services provided through the school’s partnership with Mary’s Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center community health center in the District.

  • Two-generation learning – Briya’s mission is to strengthen families through culturally responsive two-generation education. At Briya, parents and their young children learn together. Parents study English—from basic to advanced levels—and practice digital literacy and parenting skills. At the same time, their Pre-K–3 and Pre-K–4 children, as well as infants and toddlers, receive a high-quality early education in dual-language, project-based classes right across the hall. Parents and children also participate in intentional weekly Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time.
  • Briya and Mary’s Center partnership – For nearly 20 years, Briya and Mary’s Center have partnered closely to provide education, health care, and social services for families. Through this partnership—and their shared philosophy of social change—Briya and Mary’s Center exemplify how a public school can serve as the hub for a community.

 

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SBOE Weekly Ed Links: 10-05-2018

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

Here is our weekly rundown of the latest District education news and events!

SBOE IN THE NEWS
High Salaries, But High Turnover In D.C. Public Schools, Study Finds | WAMU

A Teacher’s Perspective on DC’s data-based Personalized Learning Program | Data Quality Campaign

D.C. Teacher Turnover Exceeds National Average, Report | Washington Informer

SCHOOL REPORT CARD UNDER ESSA
DC School Report Card At A Glance
STAR Framework At A Glance
2018-19 DC School Report Card and STAR Framework Technical Guide
OSSE School Report Card Site

 TEACHER TURNOVER REPORT
SBOE Teacher Turnover Report
DCPS Response to Teacher Turnover Report

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