Not Losing Sight of Achievement Goals for All

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

Between 2003 and 2015, the District of Columbia experienced large achievement gains for its students: double-digit gains in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a growth in attendance and graduation (despite recent setbacks), and more students reported satisfaction in their schooling. For a school district that struggled for so many years, there is so much positive. But during my time as a Policy Fellow for the State Board of Education, I’ve had the chance to absorb the data and hear upfront about some of the challenges families face here in the District. Overall, while there is much to celebrate, there is much more to do.

First, let’s examine the two most recent NAEP scores for the District – 2015 and 2017. Below is a graphic that compares the NAEP results for the District by race.

NAEP

Overall, there are distinct differences between races when it comes to student achievement. How can we make these equal? What positives can we take from the overall strengthening of scores over time and apply to everyone? How can we ensure that success is shared by all?

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Implications of the 2017 NAEP Results

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

On April 25th, three big names in education policy research gathered to discuss the implications of the 2017 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) results. All three are senior fellows at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Chester Finn is the president emeritus of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and a member of the Maryland State Board of Education. He has been at the forefront of the national education debate for 35 years. Eric Hanushek is a widely-cited researcher known for his combination of economic analysis and educational issues. He has authored or edited 24 books and over 200 articles, and earned his Ph.D in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Finally, Paul Peterson is currently a government professor at Harvard University and the senior editor of Education Next magazine. Four of his more than 30 books have been recognized by the American Political Science Association as the best works in their field. The discussion was moderated by Amber Northern, the senior vice president for research at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

“What do the scores mean?” was the first question posed to the group, and each speaker had a different take on the NAEP data: “each year we generate excitement about a flat line” was Dr. Hanushek’s response; “something changed in 2009” was Dr. Peterson’s response; and Dr. Finn noted that the achievement gains in NAEP have been inequitable. But the conversation quickly focused on accountability – did the scores flatline in 2009 because of the end of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) -era provisions, or in spite of them? Dr. Chester pointed out that the heavy-handed accountability may have worked to elevate scores for a time, but the flattening NAEP scores in later years of the Act demonstrated a ceiling for student achievement under the NCLB provisions. The panelists agreed with his point, but were also quick to note that NCLB was a “bad law” which the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has done a great job in replacing.

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SBOE Stops By Seaton Stingers

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

On April 19, State Board of Education members Ruth Wattenberg (Ward 3), Joe Weedon (Ward 6), and staff members from SBOE and the Ombudsman’s office visited Seaton Elementary School, located a few blocks northeast of Logan Circle in Shaw. An enthusiastic and multicultural school, the Stingers are a very diverse community of students! The after school coordinator, Ms. Kirkpatrick, was our tour guide and we were joined by prospective parents.

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Seaton has a very progressive approach to technology in the classroom, using a blended learning model starting in Kindergarten. There are also carts of laptops and iPads on each floor of the school, bringing the school very close to a 1:1 ratio for students and computers. There can be more done, however, to achieve that goal of 1:1.

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State Board in the Community: April 2018

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

Spring has officially sprung for State Board members! This past month, the members of the Board participated in and attended enlightening and fascinating events around the District.

Ashley (At-Large) read to students at Cedar Tree Academy as part of the Read Across DC Campaign.

 

Ruth (Ward 3) braved the cold and attended the Nationals opening day game.

 

Similarly, Joe (Ward 6) attended opening day… for the Capitol Hill Little League!

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Latinos in College: Closing the Graduation Gap

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

On April 17th, the Gallup Organization hosted a series of panels and speakers to discuss the closure of the Latino higher achievement gap in the United States. Before the presentation began, each audience member was presented with handouts which highlighted the facts and figures regarding the Latino population, and education outcomes in the United States:

  • 25% of the K-12 population is Latino, with the Latino population as a share of the overall population is supposed to continually increase year-over-year
  • 22% of Latino students earn an associate degree or higher, compared to 39% of all adults
  • 41% of Latinos graduate college in 150% of the time (4 years for a 2 year-program, 6 years for 4-year program), compared to 52% for whites

This framed the context of the discussions throughout the morning, which primarily focused on policy proposals by Congressmen to tackle the gaps and challenges being faced by Latino students.

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Launch of the Youth and Family Calls to Action

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

On April 6, 2018 the Aspen Institute hosted the launch of the “Youth and Family Calls to Action,” which are ambitious goals and demands emanating from the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. The National Commission’s goal is to explore how to make social, emotional, and academic development part of the fabric of every school by drawing from research and promising practices.

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To usher in the launch of the Calls to Action, the Aspen Institute brought in students, parents, and teachers, who were all members of the National Commission, to discuss the thinking behind these goals and the relevance of them in today’s educational landscape. Tim Shriver (Co-Founder and Chair of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) set the tone of the morning by asking guests to imagine transforming the country by fighting the pervasive negativity and apathy through education. He said that through grassroots efforts, and conversations like these, change could come. His words were echoed by panelists who discussed the importance of realigning education to meet 21st Century needs.

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SBOE Visit to John Hayden Johnson Middle School

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

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Earlier this month, SBOE At-Large member Ashley Carter, Ward 8 member Markus Batchelor, and staff had the opportunity to visit John Hayden Johnson Middle School in Ward 8. We met with Principal Courtney Taylor, who has been leading the school for three years. She explained that Johnson is a “textbook” scenario of a school that serves majority disadvantaged households: currently 10% of the students are reading on level, and 5% of the students are on-level for mathematics. Her vision is to make all 270 students, or “scholars” as they are known at Johnson, academically ready for high school with the goal of exposing scholars to the unexposed – enabling them to explore a potential college or career choice at least once a month.

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State Board in the Community: February 2018

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

Even though Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow at the beginning of the month, and six more weeks of winter were predicted, the SBOE Board members have been active in attending many events across the District during the month of February.

Joe (Ward 6), Laura (Ward 1), and Markus (Ward 8) attended the Standing Ovation awards ceremony, honoring DCPS students, faculty, and staff for their accomplishments during the 2017 calendar year:

Karen (Ward 7) and Markus (Ward 8) attended a Community Meeting held at Ballou High School, to address the attendance issues impacting DC schools:

 

CALDER Research Conference 2018

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

From January 23rd to 26th, the World Economic Forum held their annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Davos was a chance for the great minds of economics to come together to discuss pressing issues facing the world today. Similarly, the Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER) held their annual research conference in Washington, DC, just one week later, bringing together the top researchers and advocates of education policy. It was a chance for education researchers to showcase their work and discuss the upcoming policy ideas and challenges to education on the horizon. Each panel contained researchers who presented their latest work, after which a policy practitioner would react to the findings. Next, panelists discussed each other’s work, and each panel concluded with questions from the audience. The four panels were:

  • K-12 Student Achievement Gaps: What Are the Contributing Factors, and What Can Be Done About Them
  • Policy and Practice Potpourri
  • Prospects for Changing Higher Education
  • Dealing with the 3rd Rail: The Politics of Data Access

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State Board in the Community: January 2018

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

In December 2017 and early January 2018, the Board members attended a variety of events around the DC community, interacting with students and parents alike. Many Board members took tours of schools during December and January, witnessing teachers and students in action firsthand.

• Ashley Carter (At-Large) visited Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

• Laura Wilson Phelan (Ward 1) highlighted the tremendous work of our #DCGradReqs Task Force as a panelist on a National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) webinar focused on equity in high school graduation requirements.

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