Vote Now for District Science Whizzes!

By Maria Salciccioli, Senior Policy Analyst

A group of three female students from Banneker High School made the top 10 in a national engineering contest sponsored by NASA. The winner will be determined by a vote, so they need your help! The dynamic trio – Banneker students Bria Snell, India Skinner and Mikayla Shariff – are referred to as the “In3 Team.” They have created a water filter to address the issue of excess lead in urban water systems; their filter is designed specifically for school water fountains.

Voting is open now and will last through Monday, April 30, 2018. Voting is open to anyone in the 50 U.S. states and territories. To support the In3 Team:

Step One: Visit https://opsparc.gsfc.nasa.gov/finalists-grades-9-12/ where you can read all about their project by clicking on the blue box:

Step Two: Scroll down until you see the bottom that says cast your vote

Step Three: Click on the names: Mikayla, India, and Bria

Step Four: Vote!

Hurry! The voting window closes April 30th. Winning teams will visit the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for two days of hands-on workshops with scientists and astronauts.

NAEP Results Are In

By: Abby Ragan, Policy Fellow

On April 10th, practitioners, scholars, researchers, and advocates, including members of SBOE staff and Representative Wattenberg, gathered together to celebrate the release of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results, known as the Nation’s Report Card. The biennial assessment is considered one of the most reliable measures of student achievement for elementary and secondary students in the U.S.

The morning started with Dr. Peggy Carr, Acting Commissioner at the National Center for Education Statistics, discussing the transition to digital based assessments (DBAs) and the results of the 2017 NAEP assessment. Nationwide, significant gains were only seen in 8th grade reading since 2015. For the most part, DC is on par with national averages and has remained stagnant since 2015. However, the data delivered is useless without context; this was provided through three panels on the state perspective, literacy, and TUDA.

Continue reading

Launch of the Youth and Family Calls to Action

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

On April 6, 2018 the Aspen Institute hosted the launch of the “Youth and Family Calls to Action,” which are ambitious goals and demands emanating from the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. The National Commission’s goal is to explore how to make social, emotional, and academic development part of the fabric of every school by drawing from research and promising practices.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To usher in the launch of the Calls to Action, the Aspen Institute brought in students, parents, and teachers, who were all members of the National Commission, to discuss the thinking behind these goals and the relevance of them in today’s educational landscape. Tim Shriver (Co-Founder and Chair of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) set the tone of the morning by asking guests to imagine transforming the country by fighting the pervasive negativity and apathy through education. He said that through grassroots efforts, and conversations like these, change could come. His words were echoed by panelists who discussed the importance of realigning education to meet 21st Century needs.

Continue reading

Big Hairy Audacious Goals at Jefferson Academy

By: Abby Ragan, Policy Fellow

Earlier this month, SBOE representatives Ashley Carter and Ruth Wattenberg joined SBOE staff in a visit to Jefferson Academy (JA), a DCPS community middle school located in Ward 6. The environment at Jefferson Academy during the SBOE visit was warm and welcoming from the moment we entered the building. Everyone from security guards to front office staff to leadership to teachers to students were incredibly helpful and demonstrated a love for their school.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The morning started with a conversation with Principal Greg Dohmann about the school’s history. Jefferson Middle School was rebranded as Jefferson Academy in 2011, giving rise to a new generation of Jefferson achievement. Jefferson’s feeder schools are primarily Amidon-Bowen Elementary School, Brent Elementary School, Tyler Elementary School, Van Ness Elementary School, and Thomson Elementary School although Jefferson received students from 29 different schools this year. Its destination school is Eastern High School. School enrollment reached 305 students in the 2016-2017 school year, with current numbers for this year at 316. The school expects this trend of enrollment growth to continue, especially considering their upcoming school modernization. 2/3 of the students who attend Jefferson are out of boundary, mainly coming from Wards 7 and 8. Jefferson has a vision called “Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs)”: they are working to make 1) Jefferson the highest achieving middle school in D.C. for all students and for 2) all members of the JA community to love school.

Continue reading

SBOE Visit to Meridian Public Charter School

By: Matt Repka, Policy Analyst

Last month, SBOE staff visited the middle school campus of Meridian Public Charter School in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Northwest Washington, DC. Meridian PCS, which first opened in the 1999-2000 school year, has a total enrollment of roughly 700 students from PK3 to 8th grade.

The school’s mission is “to inspire a passion for learning in our students and to help them build their self-confidence and self-respect through academic achievement.” Last school year, the school was named a winner of Mayor Muriel Bowser and the State Board of Education’s Every Day Counts! Attendance Competition, which recognizes students and schools with exemplary attendance rates.

Continue reading

State Board in the Community: 04-02-2018

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

While the weather has been stubbornly cold, the cherry blossoms are due to hit peak bloom by this coming weekend. Spring will spring soon! Throughout the month of March, State Board members have been active in the community and continue to be a voice for education in the District.

Ruth Wattenberg (Ward 3) spent a morning reading to students at Murch Elementary School.

 

Vice President Jack Jacobson (Ward 2) was on the Kojo Nnamdi show discussing the recent challenges within DC Public Schools, and specifically how only 42% of students are on-track to graduate.

Continue reading

In The Age of Inequality, Does Public Schooling Make a Difference?

By: Matt Repka, Policy Analyst

Last week, SBOE staff attended a panel event on Capitol Hill on the implications of rising economic inequality on American public education. Titled “In the Age of Inequality, Does Public Education Make a Difference?” and presented jointly by the American Academy of Political and Social Science and the American Educational Research Association, the panel assembled a group of academic researchers who have published extensively on the role of schools in society.

Continue reading

SBOE Visit to John Hayden Johnson Middle School

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Earlier this month, SBOE At-Large member Ashley Carter, Ward 8 member Markus Batchelor, and staff had the opportunity to visit John Hayden Johnson Middle School in Ward 8. We met with Principal Courtney Taylor, who has been leading the school for three years. She explained that Johnson is a “textbook” scenario of a school that serves majority disadvantaged households: currently 10% of the students are reading on level, and 5% of the students are on-level for mathematics. Her vision is to make all 270 students, or “scholars” as they are known at Johnson, academically ready for high school with the goal of exposing scholars to the unexposed – enabling them to explore a potential college or career choice at least once a month.

Continue reading

Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

By: Maria Salciccioli, Senior Policy Analyst

Earlier this month, I attended the Aspen Institute’s event: The Practice Base for How We Learn: Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. The event was cohosted with the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. I was interested to learn what they’d be saying, in part because the State Board of Education’s ESSA Task Force is examining all aspects of how to provide a well-rounded education, and focusing on students’ emotional as well as academic development is increasingly gaining respect as a key strategy.

Continue reading

Visit to Chavez Prep Middle School

By: Abby Ragan, Policy Fellow and Matt Repka, Policy Analyst

Last week, two SBOE staff members had the chance to visit a Chavez Prep Middle School open house. Chavez Prep is one of the Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy, a DC-based charter school network. Serving grades 6-9, Chavez Prep has served Columbia Heights since 2009.The open house, which attracted several prospective students and their parents, consisted of a presentation by Director of Campus Operations Myisha Trice and introductions to the administrative personnel like Principal Kourtney Miller and Special Education Manager Aireen Sampson before concluding in a tour of the school. The administrators were engaged with the potential students present throughout their presentation, asking questions about their favorite subjects in school or what they would want to buy at the school store.

The Chavez Prep MS motto is “to prepare scholars to succeed in competitive colleges and to empower them to use public policy to create a more just, free, and equal world.” Administrators emphasized a dual focus on college and on public policy: at Chavez Prep, middle schoolers not only prepare for high school, but for college and beyond. They use “warm, but strict” methods and a 1-to-1 laptop-to-student model to aspire for success for their hardworking students. This could be seen through student incentives like a school store where students use credits for good behavior and work to earn small prizes or field trips, “Student of the Week” awards, and charts in hallways that display academic accomplishments and the progress of the whole grade throughout the semester.

Continue reading