SBOE Submits Student-focused Recommendations on DCPS Chancellor Search

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

Today, the DC State Board of Education (SBOE), including the Student Representatives and Student Advisory Committee, urged Mayor Muriel Bowser to make certain that any candidate for chancellor of DC Public Schools (DCPS) possess at least six qualities. Many of the SBOE recommended qualities have been echoed in community forums and meetings across the District. The SBOE wants every student to be valued and have the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to become informed, competent, and contributing global citizens.

The summary of recommended qualities for the mayor to consider when selecting the next chancellor was sent in a letter to Bowser this morning. The selected candidate must be insightful and proactive, committed to analyzing and sharing data with the public, committed to incorporating public trust from families, willing to innovate, capable and committed to championing DCPS, and focused on building relationships and rebuilding trust.

The State Board looks forward to  working alongside the Interim Deputy Mayor for Education and the Our Schools Leadership Committee as they work on synthesizing findings and recommendations prior to the selection.

A Letter from the Ombudsman – Joyanna Smith

Dear Colleagues, Partners, and Friends,

After nearly five years, I am leaving the Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education. I have learned so much from my incredible colleagues at the State Board, charter schools and DCPS schools, advocacy partners, education organizations, and students and families.  With my colleagues, we were able to re-establish an office that supported thousands of families, the majority of which represent the most disenfranchised in our city, particularly in Wards 5, 7, and 8. Through the office, we have demonstrated that establishing trust and ensuring confidentiality between schools and families can result in positive outcomes for students.

In the Office of the Ombudsman, we addressed issues that were brought to our attention by providing direct intervention; we also addressed these same issues on the systemic level through our engagement with local, state, and national education leaders. Our office became a venue for parents, students, and families to have a real voice in addressing systemic inequities that are causing our children, particularly children of color, to fail.  We implemented a dispute resolution system with the vision that educational equity extends beyond formal equality and promotes a barrier free system in which students have the opportunity to benefit fully from their public school systems.

Our office’s work has been recognized nationally, and our recommendations have been implemented locally. Over the years, as the Education Ombudsman, I have observed positive changes in this city, and though a number of challenges remain, these changes indicate that disruption of inequitable systems is not only possible, it’s starting to happen every day.

I look forward to my new role as the DC Regional Director of Rocketship Public Schools as it gives me an opportunity to continue the important work of advancing educational equity by taking lessons learned through thousands of interactions with schools and families to promoting the growth of quality schools in Washington, DC.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you as the second Education Ombudsman in DC.

Warmly,

Joyanna

Outgoing Ombudsman for Public Education

Putting #StudentsFirst: Our Vote on Credit Recovery

Credit recovery is supposed to provide students that have already failed a course the opportunity to make up or recover the credit. The regulations submitted to the State Board by OSSE were an attempt to provide statewide guardrails on a chaotic mix of programs, varied interpretations of policies or the complete absence of policies. The State Board unanimously rejected the proposal because, in our view, they would not provide any change in the practice of credit recovery in the District of Columbia.

The State Board believes we need to begin a long overdue conversation about how state agencies are better able to support excellent classrooms. It is a conversation that our caregivers, teachers, and students have been asking for: how do we harness the power of government and public education to ensure equity of opportunity for all students.

Credit recovery is a last resort. Every time a teacher acts with a student that is struggling, we need to be there to provide support. Every time a student falls behind, we need to be there to catch them up. A student that is struggling in a class shouldn’t have to fail the course before the teacher and the school can help. That is a failure of the system, not the student.

On the fundamentals, we agree with OSSE that credit recovery needs clear guidelines and rules, but not without a larger discussion about how the education system is serving individual students. Working together, as a community, we must ensure that the state agencies are supporting caregivers, teachers, and school leaders to provide students with the help they need to prosper by reducing barriers and ensuring equity of access and opportunity. We must hold our school leaders and agencies, not just teachers responsible for student outcomes, and empower our students and their caregivers to be decision-makers in education.

The State Board rejected the proposed regulations to put students, not the system, first.

State Board in the Community: April 2018

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

While the weather has been stubbornly cold, the cherry blossoms are due to hit peak bloom by this coming weekend. Spring will spring soon! Throughout the month of March, State Board members have been active in the community and continue to be a voice for education in the District.

Ruth Wattenberg (Ward 3) spent a morning reading to students at Murch Elementary School.

 

Vice President Jack Jacobson (Ward 2) was on the Kojo Nnamdi show discussing the recent challenges within DC Public Schools, and specifically how only 42% of students are on-track to graduate.

Continue reading

#ESSA Task Force Application Deadline EXTENDED to July 24th!

We’ve extended the application period for our new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Advisory Task Force! Interested community members may now submit their application until Monday, July 24 at 12:00 noon. To apply to serve on the Task Force, click here.

Under the leadership of Dr. Lannette Woodruff (Ward 4), the ESSA Advisory Task Force will help advise the SBOE over the next two years. To ensure a balance of perspectives, the State Board will choose Task Force members who represent a broad constituency and will contribute meaningfully to education policy recommendations related to the 2017 DC ESSA Plan. In keeping with the SBOE’s commitment to transparency, all applications for the Task Force will be open to public review.

The SBOE will share clear selection criteria, and explain how members were selected. Task Force meetings will begin next month and continue on a monthly basis for the duration of the members’ two-year appointment. For the latest info regarding ESSA, please visit sboe.dc.gov/essa.

 

2nd SAC Report: Graduation Requirements and Hall Sweeps Top Student Concerns

At June’s public meeting, State Board members voted on the final version of the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) report presented by SBOE Student Representative Alex Dorosin of Wilson High School. Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 9.56.59 AMThis report is the second annual report presented by the Student Advisory Committee (SAC). The SAC met four times over the course of the 2016­-2017 school year and selected seven key topics that the SAC feels can be changed or improved in the DC education system.The proposals submitted by the SAC focused on graduation requirements, security, access to humanities and civic engagement courses, hall sweeps, food and nutrition, grading systems, and student socialization.

Student representatives have been pivotal to the success of the work of the SBOE. Our student representatives and SAC members offer a unique perspective on how policies actually impact the District’s students. SAC Mtg May'17The Student Advisory Committee serves as the voice of students in the State Board’s work. They are consulted on all issues of policy before the State Board. Student Representatives serve as co-chairs of the Student Advisory Committee.  The Committee is composed of a minimum of 15 high school students, one from each of the 10 largest (by student population) high schools in the District and 5 additional members from other high schools.  Read the report here.

Chavez Students Present Policy Solutions at Palooza Fair

By: Amber Faith, Policy Fellow

On Friday June 16th, 9th and 10th grade students attending Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy participated in the school’s annual Palooza Fair to present the results of their Community Action Projects (CAP). As a part of the CAP assignment, Chavez students worked in groups to research a policy issue, identify a problem in their community and create a policy to solve the problem. While working on their projects, students contacted and worked with experts on their topic, created and distributed surveys to community members, and completed 30 hours of community service relating to their topics.

The Palooza Fair was the culmination of the students’ work on these projects. At the fair, students gave presentations on current problems relating to human trafficking, immigration, animal rights and the U.S. military. The students succinctly and clearly presented data and information to show evidence of a problem, identified current policies meant to address the problem, and recommended changes to policy and strategies for their community to address these issues.

The work completed by Chavez 9th and 10th grade students is a requirement by Chavez schools to prepare students for the work the thesis work they will complete as Seniors. Seniors at Chavez are required to complete much more in depth research into policy solutions for current issues and present their research at Chavez’s Annual Symposium. The work completed by Chavez students falls in line with the school’s mission, part of which is to empower students to use public policy to make positive changes in their communities. To learn more about the program at Chavez Schools, visit Chavez Schools.

Parents Empowered in Ward 7

By: Marcia Bailey, Policy Intern

On Saturday, May 6, several community members from Ward 7 participated in the most recent Parent Empowerment Kickoff Series held by DC State Board of Education President and Ward 7 representative, Karen Williams and DC Student Advocate, Faith Gibson Hubbard. As overseer of DC’s Ward 7, DC State Board member Karen Williams welcomed all residents at Cesar Chavez PCS Parkside to take part in a Parent Empowerment Summit.Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 3.47.32 PM

The summit began with a breakdown of two phases. Phase one was a panel discussion on how parents can be involved in the public education system in Ward 7. Phase two focused on a hands-on working session in which parents learned from facilitators how they can effectively engage in the advocacy and decision-making processes of the education system.

Board member Karen Williams, guest speakers from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), DC Council office, and many more gave insight to the parents and residents of Ward 7 by providing them knowledge on how they can engage as a community into their schools’ education system. The point of the summit is for community members to come together, be empowered by one another in order to take a stand, and create a foundation for Ward 7’s education system.

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 3.47.17 PMBuilding  strong advocacy as a unit will ensure that the community is pleased with Ward 7 as a whole. The Office of the Student Advocate partnered with Board member Karen Williams in order to show how strong they feel about the ward coming together to learn the importance of advocating for their community.

SBOE Approves New ESSA Task Force

Moves to Include Historically Marginalized Voices

At our May Public Meeting, the SBOE approved the creation of a new ESSA Advisory Task Force! This new task force will help advise the State Board over the next year and will be chaired by our Ward 4 representative, Dr. Lanette Woodruff. The SBOE is committed to involving broad community input in the decision making related to the Every Student Succeeds Act, particularly voices that have been ignored and sidelined historically.

With this new task force, the State Board will conduct community roundtables and focus groups to gather input on the remaining ESSA accountability plan measures, pilot studies, and school report cards from essential District education stakeholders. This task force will consist of two parent reprechildren-progress-in-our-schools (ed.gov)sentatives, two student representatives, two teacher representatives, two ward education group representatives, two District business representatives, two community education advocates, two national education experts, the District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor or designee, one District of Columbia Public Charter School Board designee, an OSSE designee, State Board President or designee, and two SBOE representatives. Read the full resolution HERE.

In the coming months, the SBOE will release to the public a plan of action that will provide a clear and transparent process of engagement on the elements we, as a city, want to see in our school report cards. The SBOE is committed to approving a report card that ensures that parents no longer have to search for essential information across multiple websites and that they provide full stories of each school. The SBOE will also work with the Mayor and Council to ensure that these report cards are accessible and translated into all of the languages required by the Language Access Act.

Seeing Out-of-School-Time Through Equity Lenses

By: Tara Adam, Policy Fellow

On Thursday, May 25, Mila Yochum of the DCPS Out-of-School-Time System Set-Up Team, led a lively discussion centering on the question, how can resources be distributed to support equity within the District? The goal of the afternoon was to help the OST Team determine an equity lens through which RFP applicants should be scored for 2017-2018 award year.Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 11.23.31 AM

Prior to delving into the group exercise, Ms. Yochum emphasized that equality does not equate to equity, and that it is OST’s responsibility to ensure there is an equitable distribution of the available RFP 2017-2018 $2 million dollar grant, not an equitable access to it. Although there is a standardized rubric for the grant review process, bonus points awarded will  be awarded to  applicants who further the OST’s equity movement.

The group of stakeholders assimilated eight themes in which they believed the equity lens should be centered on: mental and emotional health, enrichment opportunities, transportation, poverty, under-resourced schools, special populations, geography, and organizational capacity. The group then delved into identifying key concerns and concepts associated with each theme. For example, the stakeholders’ agreed that youth programs targeted at professional development and opportunities for personal growth  should be a core concept related to enrichment.  

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During the session’s debrief numerous participants commented on their desire for collaboration and the creation of an Out-of-School-Time community where ideas and resources can be shared. Moreover, numerous stakeholders voiced a concern over the definition of who an “at-risk” student really is.

This discussion was part of a series of six conversations held by the DCPS OST Set-up Team. Following the conclusion of the six sessions a vote will be held to determine the three most popular themes in which an equity lens will be developed for the RFP 2017-2018 grant. This process will only be applicable to this  grant year.