Employer-Driven Innovations in CTE

By: Maria Salciccioli, Policy Analyst

The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) held an engaging discussion on October 20th, called Employer-Driven Innovations in CTE: Promise, Practice, and Opportunities for Policy. I was excited to attend and learn about any potential connections between the latest research and what our High School Graduation Requirements Task Force is doing – we have a lot of people on the task force with deep expertise on the pathway to college, but we want to make sure we incorporate the career and technical education (CTE) voice into our conversations, and one way to do that is to take advantage of the amazing panels that often take place around the city.

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State Board in the Community: October 2017

By: Alexandria Smith, Communication Fellow

In addition to our #DCGradReqs meeting this past week, SBOE members were out in full force at community events around the District!


Ward 3 Representative, Ruth Wattenberg, was a guest speaker at a Wilson High School Parent Teacher Student Organization meeting on school report cards.



Our at-large member, Ashley Carter speaks at Friendship Public Charter School on the Every Student Succeeds Act school report card. Ward 8 parents attended this “chat & chew” focus group to discuss school to parent transparency.



Joe Weedon speaks at the Capitol Hill Montessori Stories of Our Schools exhibit opening!

SBOE Welcomes New Student Representatives

By: Paul Negron, Communications & Public Engagement

Late last month, the State Board of Education proudly held swearing-in ceremonies for its two new student representatives, Tallya Rhodes (HD Woodson HS, Ward 7) and Tatiana Robinson (Ballou HS, Ward 8). State Board President Karen Williams was joined by Ashley Carter (At-Large) and Markus Batchelor (Ward 8) at both high schools as our newest student representatives were sworn in with proud teachers, classmates, and family members cheering them on!

Tallya Rhodes Swearing-In

Tallya Rhodes’ Swearing-In Ceremony at HD Woodson High School

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State Board in the Community: October 2017

By: Alexandria Smith, Communication Fellow

In addition to our monthly public meeting this week, SBOE members were out in full force at community events around the District!


Joe Weedon spoke at the Capitol Hill Montessori “Story of Our Schools” Exhibit.



Markus Batchelor attended a KaBoom Park Opening at The Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus. ” Thanks to @KaBOOM for serving communities in need of investment and youth in need of play! #Ward8 #BelieveIn8



Ashely Carter attended a talk on the future of education reform at The Center for Education Reform along with Friendship Public Charter School founder and SBOE #ESSATaskForce member, Donald Hense.

DCPS Chancellor Wilson Promotes Reign Initiative on #FacebookLive

By: Matt Repka, Policy Analyst

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Antwan Wilson conducted a Facebook Live interview on Friday to talk about a new initiative in DCPS focused on young women of color. The interview, conducted from the DCPS Central Office in Northeast Washington, briefly discussed DCPS’ new “Reign: Empowering Young Women as Leaders” initiative, which promotes opportunities for young women of color in the school system. The initiative will continue through the 2017-18 school year.

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State Board in the Community: October 2017

Lannette Woodruff and Laura Wilson Phelan attended a riveting discussion on family and parent engagement within the education policy space. Learn more about DC PAVE here: dcpave.org.


Joe Weedon and Ashley Carter got up bright and early to join Capitol Hill-area students on Walk to School Day on October 4th.


Markus Batchelor attended the Anacostia High School homecoming game on October 7th!



Millennial Views on Education

By: Maria Salciccioli, Policy Analyst

Last week, The Raben Group hosted Dr. Cathy Cohen from the GenForward Project at the University of Chicago at a panel event titled “Millennials and Education: New Research on America’s Most Diverse Generation.” Dr. Cohen presented rich survey data on millennials’ views on a host of education-related issues. (Millennials were defined as current 18- to 34-year-olds.)

Laura Jimenez, Director of Standards and Accountability at the Center for American Progress, and Dakarai Aarons, Vice President of Strategic Communications at the Data Quality Campaign, joined Dr. Cohen to offer expert analysis of the data, examining potential causes for the trends expressed in the survey data. By the panel’s own admission, Aarons was the only one of the speakers who is himself a member of the millennial generation; nonetheless, all three offered great insights into data, access to education, and challenges in our education system illuminated by survey responses.

Cohen presented data generated in response to a survey that was administered in June and July of 2017, disaggregated by race and ethnicity. Questions included: What is the role of a student’s economic class in determining educational quality? What is the role of race in determining educational quality? Are U.S. schools held accountable for the performance of students of color? What are the best ways to improve education?

Some of GenForward’s findings:

  • Most millennials gave their own education a high grade, but they gave lower grades to U.S. public schools. 26% of black students, 31% of Asian students, 32% of Latino students, and 20% of white students think U.S. schools deserve an A or B letter grade. The rest rate our schools C or lower.
  • Across every racial and ethnic background, in rank order, the top three ideas on how to improve K-12 education were the same: increase school funding, improving teacher training, and increase teacher pay.
  • While slight majorities of black and Asian students said students of color receive a worse education than their white counterparts, slight majorities of Latino and white students responded that race is not a major determinant of educational quality.
  • In contrast, over 70% of students of all races said they believed that low-income students receive a worse education than their white peers.
  • The survey data suggest a majority of millennials support charter schools and school voucher programs, particularly for low-income students, with the strongest support coming from black respondents. However, as the panelists pointed out, neither charters nor vouchers ranked among millennials’ top ideas for improving education, indicating approval for the concepts but not necessarily energy or deep buy-in to either.

According to Cohen, the commonly held assumption that millennials are uniformly more progressive and inclusive than generations before them is not supported by the available data. Those who value equity in education, she argued, must therefore do more to shape public opinion and not simply assume that trends will become more favorable with the passage of time. As an example, Cohen cited responses to a not-yet-published question on whether millennials believed in the existence of the school-to-prison pipeline, noting that white respondents were the least likely to agree that it is a real phenomenon.

Jimenez addressed millennials’ competing interests; millennials want more money in public schools, but they also support publicly funded vouchers, which pull money out of traditional public schools. They want greater levels of personalization, which require more data on individual students, but they also call for fewer tests. She talked about the strong case to be made for fewer, better assessments, which would move schools toward personalization without over-testing.

It would have been admittedly less compelling but useful to see the full set of questions during the presentation; one thing I was curious to see, for example, was the list of options respondents were given when asked to rank the best ways to improve education nationally. Full surveys are available at www.GenForwardSurvey.com, and I look forward to reading the full questions and seeing what they’ve asked millennials in the past.

A student from American University asked the panelists’ thoughts on a survey item on extreme speech. Asked if universities should curb extreme speech, black and Latino students supported the idea to a greater extent than their white or Asian peers. Aarons worried about the balance in asking schools to curb extreme speech – which may make minority students feel safer, particularly in our current political climate – and simultaneously ensuring extreme speech limitations are not defined in ways that ultimately disempower minority voices.

I’m interested to see survey respondents’ thoughts about more education issues (while the presentation did not present the full data set, a paper is available online), and I’m glad to hear that there are organizations thinking about next steps and how to have conversations that increase public support for equity. But I also think that those of us who are invested in educational equity have a lot of work to do in terms of changing the hearts and minds of our 18- to 34-year-old peers.


Community Schools Tour at J.O. Wilson

By: Sabrina Hernandez, Policy Fellow

On September 12th, 2017, DC State Board of Education Executive Director John Paul Hayworth, Policy Analyst Maria Salciccioli, and Policy Fellow Sabrina Hernandez visited J.O.Wilson Elementary School in Ward 6 as part of the “Communities in Schools of the National’s Capital” tour. Mr. Hayworth sits on a board that awards grants to schools in the DC area, and this school had received a grant from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). This meeting was with an OSSE grant representative, as well as the organization Communities in Schools (CIS) which is working with the grant money within J.O. Wilson. The representatives of CIS were present, as well as Principal Heidi Haggerty and the site coordinators for CIS. The meeting focused on the many programs and services that CIS provides for the students and families at J.O. Wilson, with an introduction by the principal detailing the issues the school is facing, as well as initiatives that have been successful through the grant.

Principal Haggerty began by explaining how after school programs are extremely important to students and families, and it is important for public schools to have a robust after school program for families  to choose the school. The principal noted that the partnerships that have been possible through the grant have helped to improve the after school experience at J.O Wilson, and specifically Kid Power has been a success. Through the grant, the school also has been able to hire a site coordinator that works through communities in schools to provide services for students in three different tiers of need, with general student population at one, more specific student groups at two, and individual students with needs at three. The principal noted how this model has been helpful in addressing the needs of the larger student population, such as food insecurity, while also providing for individual needs such as child counseling and new shoes. Some material items that have been made possible through the grant are school supplies and backpacks for housing insecure children, as well as weekend food bags from capital area food bank.

Principal Haggerty referenced the DC insight survey for school culture, and noted that the school culture has improved. One issue that the principal focused on extensively was chronic absenteeism. Ms. Haggerty is aware this is a highly concerning issue, as 100 out of 500 students are absent throughout the school year. Something that exacerbates this problem is that 74% of students live outside of the school’s boundary, making it more difficult for them to get to school on time through any weather. The principal is hoping to tackle this issue head on this year, and has an idea of setting up individual meetings with students who have missed more than 15 days to get them individual help. School culture is also affected by new students at the school, the principal noted. This year, she decided to be intentional in setting up a welcoming environment for new students who may be unsure at a new school or are naturally hyper-vigilant as a result of their home environment. She wants students to relax within the school, and not feel that they need to be on the defensive, so she had a  welcoming lunch for new students where she performed a small ritual which involved giving them a medal and welcoming them to the school. She believes this will help new students identify allies within the administration and help them with their sense of safety and security.

J.O. Wilson would also like to move towards including more socio-emotional centered activities, and the grant has helped with a partnership with an organization called Connected Psychology that brings counselors to schools, where students can get individual and group therapy. Other programs and organizational partners made possible by the grant and the school’s continued dedication to holistic student support include Cultivate the Garden, AAA schools public safety patrol, Alice’s kids, EEOC mentors and VSP vision services. The school visit was a great example of how individual administrators, outside community organizations, and grants can all work together to provide services that allow student to be healthy, stable and safe in order to succeed in the classroom.