SBOE Kicks Off the First Meeting of the #DCGradReqs Task Force!

By: Amber Faith, Policy Fellow

SBOE will hold its first High School Graduation Task Force meeting on July 26th and invites the public to observe. The task force is led by State Board members  Laura Wilson Phelan (Ward 1) and Markus Batchelor (Ward 8). Together they lead a task force composed of parents, teachers, students, business leaders, school administrators, and education advocates from across the District!

All task force meetings are open to the public. However, individuals and representatives of organizations are not permitted to speak or participate during task force sessions. In an effort to get more of the public involved with the work of the task force, the SBOE has created a forum on Facebook for the public to join. On the task force Facebook page, the public can post questions and comments on the task force’s work and receive updates on task force meetings and progress. To join the page, click on the link below!

SBOE Graduation Requirements Task Force Facebook Page

We also invite your ongoing participation and input in the following ways:

  • Attend task force meetings and/or view them online
  • Participate in focus groups the task force will convene over the next six months
  • Submit written testimony or information for consideration by the task force by emailing sboe@dc.gov or by filling out this online form
  • Share your thoughts with your elected State Board member or the task force co-chairs, Laura Wilson Phelan (Ward 1) and Markus Batchelor (Ward 8)

Education & DC’s Job Training Challenge

By: Tara Adam, Policy Fellow

On June 29, 2017, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute hosted a panel discussion entitled, “Big Solutions to DC’s Big Job Training Challenge.” The event was attended by roughly forty stakeholders of varying backgrounds including Ms. Ruth Wattenberg, SBOE Representative from Ward 3.

 

The panel, moderated by Mr. Andy Shallal of Busboy and Poets and Chair of the DC Workforce Investment Council, featured private-sector employers and labor union leaders including Mr. Raj Aggarwal (Think Local First), Mr. John Boardman (Unite HERE 25), Ms. Ilana Boivie (DC Fiscal Policy Institute), Mr. Thomas Penny (Donohoe Hospitality Services), and Ms. Stacy Smith (Hyatt Hotels Corporation).

The panel opened with Ms. Ilana Boivie, Senior Policy Analyst at DC Fiscal Policy Institute, providing an overview of the current economic state of DC in relation to the job market; overall, the District has seen robust growth. While unemployment is down, rates remains high in Wards 7 and 8 (10.9 and 13.3% respectively). Of those unemployed, roughly 60,000 lack a high school degree, and even those who have multiple certificates from training programs still have a difficulty securing a job.

As Mr. Penny remarked, “we all have a responsibility to do something.” The panelists discussed that it is up to private-sector employers, labor union leaders, and local stakeholders to create educational programs and pathways to help lower unemployment rates and target demographic groups which are most inflicted. In addition to developing skillsets, employers must build up wrap-around services for employees centered on childcare, housing and transportation.

While much of the conversation centered on educational job training programs, I believe that many of the key points are applicable when thinking about recent SBOE endeavors such as overhauling high school graduation requirements. By providing students with alternative graduation pathways, not only could the number of of DC residents without a high school degree decline, but also the probability of said students obtaining higher education degrees increase. This would allow these individuals to be better candidates for many of the jobs within the District that require advanced degrees, as noted by Ms. Boivie.

At one point during the discussion, Mr. Shallal mentioned the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Workforce Programs, the fifth habit being to treat education like a job. The SBOE has worked diligently to ensure that educational standards provide students with the best opportunities to achieve success. However, I believe that more can be done, especially by the ESSA Implementation Taskforce, in working with community organizations and educational institutions to ensure that students have access to vital resources so external stressors are minimized that they have the opportunity to treat their education like a job.

Overall, “Big Solutions to DC’s Big Job Training Challenge” was an interesting panel discussion. While much of the conversation was skewed toward education in a job-training program, many of the points highlighted were applicable to K-12 education. More information regarding future DC Fiscal Policy Institute events and the organization’s work can be found here.

#ESSA Task Force Application Deadline EXTENDED to July 24th!

We’ve extended the application period for our new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Advisory Task Force! Interested community members may now submit their application until Monday, July 24 at 12:00 noon. To apply to serve on the Task Force, click here.

Under the leadership of Dr. Lannette Woodruff (Ward 4), the ESSA Advisory Task Force will help advise the SBOE over the next two years. To ensure a balance of perspectives, the State Board will choose Task Force members who represent a broad constituency and will contribute meaningfully to education policy recommendations related to the 2017 DC ESSA Plan. In keeping with the SBOE’s commitment to transparency, all applications for the Task Force will be open to public review.

The SBOE will share clear selection criteria, and explain how members were selected. Task Force meetings will begin next month and continue on a monthly basis for the duration of the members’ two-year appointment. For the latest info regarding ESSA, please visit sboe.dc.gov/essa.

 

Why I Love Education Policy (And You Should, Too!)

By: Maria Salciccioli, Policy Analyst

From June 28 – 30, the Education Commission of the States held its 2017 National Forum on Education Policy in San Diego, California. I had the opportunity to attend and relished the chance to meet education leaders from around the country and learn more about other states’ innovative education policies.

Day one focused on school choice policies, and in the opening plenary session, DC got a shoutout from Fordham Institute president Michael J. Petrilli, who called the city “school choice nirvana” and said that the robust charter sector spurred DC Public Schools to improve. He also noted that charter schools need to provide a great education for students with disabilities and minimize suspensions if they want to serve students well. After the plenary, we moved into small group sessions on school choice, and I chose “Expanding School Choice through Open-Enrollment Policies.” One of the session leaders was a superintendent from a small district in New Mexico. Students in New Mexico are allowed to attend schools outside of their home district, but the size of their large rural counties makes that prohibitive. To maximize choice in a rural state, the superintendent’s strategy as a school leader is to increase options within the district by providing online learning, experiential learning, and other opportunities beyond the traditional classroom setting. While DC’s innovative lottery seems to be leaps and bounds beyond what most states offer, the strategies other states used to diversify students’ educational experiences can potentially benefit District students.

The second day had a strong focus on equity, which was much more relevant to the work we do at the State Board. The morning opened with a panel of leaders discussing their states’ biggest achievement gaps and their strategies for addressing them. A panelist from the Alliance for Education asked about the potential impact on a state’s economy if all high school dropouts became high school graduates. I wondered how that logic might resonate in DC, a city with a highly educated workforce where only 69% of students graduate from high school. This marks an improvement over the past several years, but our graduates are not always college- and career-ready, and we need to get them there. I left the session feeling energized about the work our high school graduation requirements task force will do over the next year. I also attended sessions on how Minnesota used data to close attainment and equity gaps and on how Kansas aligned high school education with career opportunities. I took lessons away from both sessions that will certainly inform my policy work here in the city.

The conference ended with some conversations about school finance and a networking lunch that took place steps away from a beautiful beach. It is a testament to the attendees’ commitment to education policy that the indoor sessions were so well attended, considering that the Pacific Ocean was in view of the conference hotel! The State Teachers of the Year, representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several US territories, were in attendance and did a wonderful job of representing the educator perspective at the conference, which kept conversations from getting too far into the weeds and away from the students we’re all working to support. Having the opportunity to spend time with them over lunch was a highlight of the week. I left feeling energized about the great work we’re doing for students in DC, and I also felt more motivated than ever to go above and beyond to support our high school graduation task force, as well as our upcoming ESSA task force, as they work to close achievement and attainment gaps across the city and provide all District students with a great education.

New Student Representatives for SY2017-2018

Thank you to all who helped us recruit an amazing crop of candidates to serve as the State Board’s new student representatives. Tallya Rhodes from H.D. Woodson High School (Ward 7) and Tatiana Robinson from Ballou High School (Ward 8) were selected as our State Board Student Representatives for 2017-2018.

Student Representatives serve for one school year from September to June. They participate in all SBOE activities and are treated as full members of the State Board. In addition, Student Representatives co-chair the Student Advisory Committee and are responsible for setting the agenda for the Committee. Applicants must be a District of Columbia resident and a sophomore, junior or senior in either a traditional public or public charter high school.

At June’s public meeting, State Board members approved the final version of this year’s Student Advisory Committee (SAC) report presented by SBOE Student Representative Alex Dorosin of Wilson High School. This report is the second annual report presented by the Student Advisory Committee (SAC). The proposals submitted by the SAC focused on graduation requirements, security, access to humanities and civic engagement courses, hall sweeps, food and nutrition, grading systems, and student socialization. Read the report here.

Stay tuned for the announcement of our full Student Advisory Committee (SAC) later this summer. The Committee will be composed of high school students from both DC public schools and public charter schools. To learn more about our Student Representatives, click here.

SBOE Announces #ESSA Task Force Application

Today, we proudly announce the opening of the application period for our new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Advisory Task Force! In March of this year, the State Board voted to approve the new state accountability plan drafted by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). Work on the plan is not completed, however. The plan approved by the SBOE included provisions for the inclusion of additional measures on items like high school academic growth, school climate, and well-rounded education once those measures were fully explored and piloted. Under the leadership of Ward 4 representative Dr. Lannette Woodruff, the ESSA Advisory Task Force will help advise the SBOE over the next two years. The SBOE is committed to continuing to involve broad community input in the decision making related to the Every Student Succeeds Act.

To ensure a balance of perspectives, the State Board will choose Task Force members who represent a broad constituency and will contribute meaningfully to education policy recommendations related to the 2017 DC ESSA Plan. Task Force members will include parents, community leaders, education agency leaders, students, teachers, school leaders, and nonprofit personnel who work in relevant fields. The selection committee will strive to ensure membership is proportionately representative to the backgrounds of the students here in the District. In keeping with the SBOE’s commitment to transparency, all applications for the Task Force will be open to public review.

To apply to serve on the Task Force, click here. The application period is now open, concluding at midnight on Monday, July 17, 2017. The SBOE will share clear selection criteria, and explain how members were selected. Task Force meetings will begin next month and continue on a monthly basis for the duration of the members’ two-year appointment. For the latest info regarding ESSA, please visit sboe.dc.gov/essa.