Castle on the Hill- Our Visit to Cardozo Education Campus

Cardozo Visit May 2019

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

Last week, Cardozo High School Assistant Principal Matthew Kennedy and his leadership team welcomed State Board members Ruth Wattenberg (Ward 3 / President), Ashley MacLeay (At-Large), Emily Gasoi (Ward 1), and some of my SBOE staff colleagues for a school tour and lively education policy discussion at one of Ward 1’s education campuses. Cardozo Education Campus is essentially three schools in one, with a middle school, mainstream/traditional high school, and an International Academy for English language learners in one building. The historic “Castle on the Hill” campus serves students from grades 6–12 at this neighborhood DCPS school in the District’s northwest neighborhood of Columbia Heights.

During the first portion of the visit, we sat down with Assistant Principal Matthew Kennedy to learn more about the unique programs offered at this combined middle/high school. In addition, State Board members engaged in a discussion with school leaders and teachers on different ways to measure academic growth during high school. Academic growth, the progress a student makes over a particular time period, is one of the indicators used by the District in its STAR Framework and in its school report card. This visit was timely as the State Board looks forward to a proposal from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) related to a high school growth measure next month.

A ton of great things are happening at Cardozo! For two years in a row, a student from Cardozo’s International Academy has been selected as a Stephen Joel Trachtenberg (SJT) Scholar, earning an annual scholarship award that covers tuition, room and board, books, and fees at George Washington University (GWU). Earlier this month, Mayor Bowser announced that English teacher Beth Barkley from Cardozo EC’s International Academy was one of three teachers nominated for 2020 DC Teacher of the Year. AP Kennedy noted that 95 percent of seniors who started last year at Cardozo graduated and that the Academic Leadership team made waffles and held a celebration during Teacher Appreciation Week for all Cardozo teachers to thank them for their commitment and determination.

Enrollment Highlights

  • Average class size varies dramatically, with some classes of 8–10 students and a majority around 20–25 students
  • Enrollment number is fairly stable, but Cardozo does receive students from charter schools, other DCPS schools, and safety transfers, as well as newly arrived immigrants on a regular basis throughout the year
  • Students are on A/B block schedule
  • Largest school in DCPS – physical footprint
  • 3 CTE pathways – Engineering, Electro Engineering, Computer Science
    Cardozo Enrollment by Grade LevelSource: DC School Report Card

STAR Framework Feedback

  • Framework is challenging because Cardozo is 3 schools in 1 (Middle School, Mainstream/Traditional High School, International Academy), but only receives one overall score
  • Mainstream students – Some graduate on time at a higher rate than International Academy students who face challenges with language acquisition, entering the workforce early, recently arrived immigrants
    How It Is Calculated
    Source: OSSE STAR Framework At A Glance

Potential Solutions for High School Growth Measure

  • Use one standard metric for all high schools, but add a metric defined by each school that differentiates
  • Potentially use goals principals and schools have, like reading inventory growth or improving student writing in both English and math
  • Using math MAP test, a national assessment that focuses on growth
  • Capture number of students who left PARCC level 1
  • Choose 5-year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR)
  • Use graduation rate of students who are enrolled in grade 12 and present that rate alongside ACGR

Testing Feedback

Teachers and administrators shared concerns about the amount of testing Cardozo middle and high school students endure during their time at school. Teachers shared a consensus that they would like to have a strong voice in creating tests and that testing needs to be grown into from elementary to middle to high school.

List of the assessments currently taken by Cardozo students:

  • PARCC
  • MAP
  • Reading Inventory
  • SAGE (Social Studies Assessment of Growth and Excellence) through ninth grade
  • iReady – Middle school
  • ACCESS for ELLs – WIDA
  • DC Science
  • Math – Edcite assessments

After a lively discussion about ways the SBOE can partner with Cardozo, members and staff toured the building and peeked in on students actively participating in classes. We want to thank the following administrators and leaders for taking time out of their day to talk with us about the great work happening at Cardozo!

  • Matthew Kennedy, 9th–10th Grade Academy Assistant Principal   
  • Tynika Young-Aleibar, 11th–12th Grade Assistant Principal
  • Peter Ramsey, Instructional Coach, Middle School Social Studies
  • Lashaunda Hayness, Math Instructional Coach
  • 11th Grade Teacher Panel

And, don’t forget to check out the photos from our tour in our Flickr album!

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