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.”
Credit Recovery Policy
From October 4 to October 18, DCPS released a draft credit recovery policy for public comment, collecting feedback from stakeholders. The school system’s updated credit recovery policy is scheduled to be released this fall and will take effect in January 2019.
SBOE appreciated the opportunity to review DCPS’ draft credit recovery policy, as SBOE started working with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) on enacting robust and rigorous credit recovery regulations in April 2018. After a series of discussions on the issue throughout 2018—and proposed emergency regulations in July 2018 by OSSE that were ultimately rejected by the State Board—the DCPS draft credit recovery policy represents a strong step in the right direction. The feedback letter submitted to DCPS acknowledges that the draft policy “addresses many of SBOE’s previous concerns with the District’s credit recovery requirements and courses”.
SBOE’s comments are captured under six categories or themes: (1) ensuring credit recovery courses are equally as rigorous as an original course, (2) ensuring the definition of credit recovery is clear and does not imply credit recovery courses are teaching to different standards, (3) importance of data collection and review when it comes to implementing a credit policy and its central oversight process, (4) ensuring that attendance requirements are met by students enrolled in credit recovery courses, (5) recognition of the work of SBOE’s Credit Flexibility Waiver, and (6) emphasis on credit recovery courses serving as a final intervention for students.
Personalized Learning Plans: Pilot Program
In mid-October ODCA reached out to SBOE and other agencies to provide feedback on a draft research report prepared by the Education Consortium On Research and Education (EdCORE) titled Personalized Learning Plans in DC: Options for a Pilot Project. ODCA indicated any feedback received would be included in the final report to be released in the coming weeks.
In May 2018, the State Board unanimously passed the recommendations of its High School Graduation Requirements Task Force. One of the recommendations of the Task Force focused on creating personalized learning plans for every public-school student in the District to be revisited at three critical transition points during elementary, middle, and high school. The ODCA draft report highlights the work of the Task Force and proposes six potential options for how personalized learning plans could be piloted in the District.
Comments by SBOE highlighted the draft report’s work: (1) to better define personalized learning plans, (2) to ensure that implementation of any personalized learning plans be intentional and purposeful, and (3) on drawing attention to existing initiatives in the District that could be looked towards when developing a District-wide personalized learning plan pilot. SBOE also reacted to the six potential pilot options—drawing particular attention to five pilot options that follow the suggested timeline of the Task Force and have an implementation start date of fall 2019.
Policy Feedback Process
SBOE frequently provides feedback to agencies across the District on draft policies and reports. This feedback is usually provided in two ways: (1) through a formal public comment period, in which SBOE submits its feedback alongside community members or (2) after a direct ask from a specific agency, in which SBOE submits its feedback on a policy or report in advance or outside of community members. When submitting feedback, SBOE usually does so in letter or memo form. Providing feedback to agencies is one of many ways that SBOE lends its voice, guidance, and expertise on the large array of educational matters and education laws and policies governing the public schools in the District of Columbia.
**For more information on the process by which SBOE engages with other agencies, please reach out to our office at SBOE@dc.gov or 202-741-0888.