By: Maria Salciccioli, Senior Policy Analyst
Friday, July 13th was my last day at SBOE, and I’ve been reflecting on a wonderful year and a half. Although I’d lived in DC for six years before I started at SBOE, having worked as a teacher, researcher, and political appointee at the US Department of Education, I didn’t know much about education in the city I lived in, including exactly how SBOE, OSSE, the DME, DCPS, and PCSB worked together to educate the roughly 100,000 students who attend public schools in DC. Since joining the agency, however, I’ve had the privilege to both learn and serve.
As Senior Policy Analyst at SBOE, I worked as project manager for our two task forces – High School Graduation Requirements and ESSA. The graduation task force convened stakeholders from across the city, held in-depth discussions on what we want District graduates to know and be able to do, and created recommendations that are designed to improve student preparation and ensure that a District diploma is meaningful and is conferred to graduates who are well-prepared for college and career. The process was eye-opening – bringing together stakeholders from across the city means that it’s incredibly difficult to come to consensus on the best way to support children, but it is critical to have a variety of voices at the table, and I think the recommendations were stronger because of the diverse input that went into them. The ESSA task force is partnering with OSSE to ensure the ESSA plan is implemented with families in mind, and the outreach OSSE and task force members have engaged in is unprecedented across the country. Even though it has been a groundbreaking effort, there is still hard work to do with family engagement, and I am excited to see where the Board takes its practices over the years to come.
I also had the opportunity to support our Student Advisory Committee, which is a group of amazing students from across the district. The 2017-18 committee, led by Tatiana Robinson and Tallya Rhodes, accomplished three projects over the course of the school year, and laid the groundwork for a successful 2018-19 committee. I’m so proud of these students, and getting to know them was one of the greatest joys of the past year and a half.
One of the greatest learning experiences I’ve had was working on deeper learning over the past year – I wrote a grant for a deeper learning stipend through the National Association of the State Boards of Education (NASBE), and we’ve been able to plan to use the grant money to support family engagement efforts. I’ve also worked closely with NASBE’s Director of Teaching, Leading, and Learning, Don Long, and I’ve learned so much from him about strategic planning with rigorous learning experiences in mind.
My tenure at SBOE has, for the most part, gone quickly and joyfully (despite a wealth of evening meetings and intense political discussions), and while I’m excited for my next steps, it is incredibly bittersweet to leave my amazing colleagues. I wish the DC State Board of Education the best, and I hope the DC education landscape increasingly makes way for an independent elected voice to represent its students.