A Friday Trip to Amidon-Bowen: Remarks from Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona

By Emily Gasoi, Vice President and Ward 1 Representative

On Friday, April, 30th I had the opportunity to hear our Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, speak during his visit to Amidon-Bowen Elementary School, which was his final stop on his ‘Help is Here’ School Reopening Tour.

Not surprisingly, Secretary Cardona’s talk focused on his quest to reopen our nation’s schools in the fall. But he opened with a personal story about a young child he met during his school visiting tour. This set the tone for a message about meeting broad national needs without losing sight of the fact that every school community is made up of the individual hopes, interests, and needs of its many stakeholders and that children must be centered in every effort toward reopening.  

He talked about what he learned by visiting schools across the country that had made strides toward bringing the community back in person. He shared high level takeaways, including that he understood that a successful return in the fall would require funding that would allow schools to hire additional staff, make buildings safe, assess students and meet them where they are. Fortunately, he noted, “Help is on the way – lots of federal money is being delivered to schools” to make these efforts possible.  

Another point that Secretary Cardona underscored was the importance of including the “voices of all stakeholders” in the conversation about what school should look like in the fall. He reiterated several times the need for “intentional collaboration” across stakeholder groups and that we must “keep equity at the center of all our decisions.” During his remarks, he acknowledged that teachers and principals have shouldered the lion’s share of the burden of educating students during this unprecedented school year. In his closing words, Secretary Cardona offered gratitude and summoned continued courage, asserting “the pandemic has only sharpened our swords to face the challenges ahead.”  

If you’re interested, you can view his full remarks here:

Presenting the State Board’s Teacher Retention Survey at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting and the ECDataWorks Building Resilient Data Analytics Conference

By Darren Fleischer, Policy Analyst

As part of the D.C. State Board of Education’s (SBOE) commitment to public engagement, we have had the pleasure of presenting at three education-related conferences, sharing findings from the 2020 D.C. Teacher Attrition Survey

The first education-related conference the State Board participated in was at the 11th Annual DC Data Summit in July 2020, which is featured in our previous August 2020 SBOE blog post. This year, we continued to share our findings with a wider audience at two national education conferences—the ECDataWork’s national meeting on Building Resilient Data Analytics on February 23, as well as the 2021 American Educational Research Association’s (AREA) Annual Meeting on Accepting Educational Responsibility on April 8.

ECDataWorks

At the virtually-held February ECDataworks meeting, I joined fellow State Board policy staff Alex Jue as a panelist in the session entitled “Early Childhood Workforce Participation and Persistence,” alongside:

  • Amy Yagil, Data Systems Coordinator, Pennsylvania Key, who is leading data efforts to make enhancements to Pennsylvania’s early childhood education workforce registry—the goal being that the state will maintain complete records of training and employment for everyone who works in a childcare setting.
  • Kathy Thornburg, Senior Early Childhood Technical Assistance Provider, AEM Corporation, was part of a team in Missouri that recently completed a study on the early childhood workforce on military bases.  The study led to recommendations for workforce development that have improved quality and persistence.

Alex and I provided the purpose and background of the 2020 Teacher Attrition Survey, as well as findings and recommendations from the report as they relate to early childhood educators. Questions from the moderator as well as audience members included, “What are the big workforce questions that your agency is tackling? What strategies are being used to gather and analyze workforce data? What is the data telling you?  What are the strategies you have used to make information visible and useful to decision makers? Where does the State Board go from here?” 

Alex and I stressed that the original intent of the study was to cover Pre-K–12 educators, and the sample size of early educators participating in the study was too small to include in some analyses around early childhood educators, including why educators left. In our concluding remarks, Alex and I shared resources and the presentation slides with the audience, as well as answered a question from one of the audience members regarding the Teacher Attrition video and how to effectively communicate research findings to stakeholders and the general public. 

AERA Annual Meeting

For the virtually-held April 8 AERA Annual Meeting, Ward 4 Representative and Teacher Practice Committee Chairperson, Dr. Frazier O’Leary joined Alex and me to present at a roundtable session entitled “Teacher Reopening Teacher Retention and Response to School Reopening.” The two other session panelists included:

  • Trang Pham-Shouse, Ph.D. candidate in Educational Leadership, Pennsylvania State University, who presented her paper “Factors Influencing Intention to Teach of Preservice Teachers in Vietnam.”
  • Lauren Stark, Assistant Professor of Education, Bowdoin College, who presented her paper “It’s Not Our Responsibility: Educator and Union Resistance Against the Unsafe Reopening of Schools.”

Similar to the 11th Annual DC Data Summit presentation, Frazier described the purpose and background of the 2020 Teacher Retention Study, Alexander discussed the methodology of the it, and I provided an analysis of data that indicated high levels of educators’ passion for teaching, lower reported levels of feelings of support from school leadership, and the significance of educators native to Washington, D.C. versus non-native educators with regards to the number of years they remain in their teaching positions at school. I also included State Board policy actions prior to and following the 2020 Teacher Retention Study, including the follow-up All-Teacher Survey Report that was published in March 2021.

One audience member noted the importance of the State Board’s work in relation to unions and asked about the future of this work around improving teacher attrition in the District in years to come. Other audience members asked our thoughts on whether compensation and/or benefits were tied in with the findings of the 2020 Teacher Retention Study. Lastly one audience member asked about further information on how the District’s teacher evaluation system, IMPACT, might have played a role in teachers’ desire to stay or leave their schools or the education profession.

Frazier, Alex, and I shared State Board resources and the video mentioned earlier in this post, highlighting the study’s findings.

The State Board looks forward to further sharing findings from its studies with education policy wonks, educators, and the general public at large, including findings from the 2021 All-Teacher Survey Report and future studies. Let us know your thoughts on these reports and feel free to suggest upcoming events and conferences if you would like us to share findings from these studies.

SBOE #EdPolicy Roundup: April 2021 – Strategies for Successful School Librarian and Teacher Collaboration

This month, the D.C. State Board of Education (SBOE) continues its efforts to make education research and policy concepts accessible to all stakeholders in our communities. In honor of National School Library Month, the April #EdPolicy Research Roundup features one report: Strategies for Successful School Librarian and Teacher Collaboration from the American Association of School Librarians.

As we have done in previous posts, the State Board will discuss the key findings of the report and explain the implications on the State Board’s work and priorities.

Strategies for Successful School Librarians and Teacher Collaboration

Summary: School librarians are essential to student achievement as they provide collaboration, resources, and guidance to school communities. This study explored three examples of collaboration between a teacher and school librarian to understand more about what strategies made it successful. 

The findings indicate that the school librarians in this study used many different strategies to lead the collaboration to success. These strategies included initiating the collaboration, securing support from the principal, identifying a shared vision with all collaborators, collecting and analyzing data about the progress of the collaboration, holding regular meetings, and documenting the collaboration. These strategies aligned with the table above. 

State Board Context

Outdoor Storytime

On April 14th, 2021, members of the DC State Board of Education (DCSBOE) partnered with the DC Public Library to organize a city-wide Outdoor Storytime. Councilmembers Trayon White, Janeese Lewis George, and Brooke Pento also participated. 

At the April Public Meeting, Allister Chang, (Ward 2 Representative)  expressed his love of libraries and concern at the possibility of cutting librarian positions. He also suggested the detrimental impact communities would face without a librarian. Several other State Board members echoed Chang’s sentiments. 

“It has been a long, hard year of too little socializing and way too much screen time. That is why, now more than ever, we need to find safe and creative ways to reconnect, to celebrate and learn together.” – Emily Gasoi, Ward 1 DCSBOE Member

“Kids need to be with kids. Kids need to be outside. We need models for learning outside, as the pandemic continues. Outdoor Storytime has it all.” – Ruth Wattenberg, Ward 3 DCSBOE Member

“Reading is a fundamental building block of education and reading together is a wonderful and  simple joy. I am proud that the DC State Board of Education is making time to gather with our neighbors in all eight wards today to celebrate the chance to be together and read together. Thanks to the DC Public Library and all event participants for making time to read outside with us!” – Jessica Sutter, Ward 6 DCSBOE Member 

The State Board of Education also passed CR21-9 Honoring National School Library Month.

Check out the highlights from each of the ward’s story time events!

SBOE #EdPolicy Roundup: March 2021 – Family Engagement to Lead Education Policy

By Rachel Duff, Policy Fellow

This month, The D.C. State Board of Education (SBOE) continues its efforts to make education research and policy concepts accessible to all stakeholders in our communities. The March 2021 #EdPolicy Research Roundup features a key event from the Brookings Institution examining the merits of family engagement in education specifically amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As we have done previously, the State Board will discuss the key findings of this research event and explain the implications on the State Board’s work and priorities. 

“Can Family Engagement Be a Gamechanger for Education Post-COVID? Survey findings from the Family Engagement in Education Network” Brookings Institution, March 2021

Summary: This virtual event was facilitated by Rebecca Winthrop, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Universal Education. The mission for the Family Engagement in Education Network through the Brookings Institution is for parents, families, and communities to have a real seat at the table of educational change. 

The Family Engagement in Education Network is an international initiative that encompasses 14 jurisdictions and over 41 project collaborators. 

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Brookings Institution administered a survey to over 25,000 parents with children in Pre-K through 12th grade formal education settings. They administered the survey in 15 languages. 

Their top three takeaways were: 

  • Parents’ aspirations: A “new” kind of education
    • Parents want a mix of traditional & academic outcomes of education.
    • Parents would like more interactive/engaged styles of teaching and learning.
    • Parents decide high quality school indicators varying from elements of academic rigor to levels of social-emotional learning opportunities. 
  • Parents’ Influences: Teachers and their children
    • Parents desire a stronger alignment/relationship with the teachers of their children.
  • Parents’ Differences: Communities are distinct 
    • Educational leaders must make sure that their school staff gets to know the parents in their respective community. 

A panel of Family Engagement in Education members discussed what the context of parents’ engagement has been for them in their communities:

  • Paul Lorette: Assistant Superintendent of Sea to Sky School District from the British of Columbia (BC), Canada
    • Approximately 12 percent of the student population in Sea to Sky District are indigenous students of First Nations Indigenous Ancestry. About 10 years ago, there were concerns that the graduation rate for indigenous learners was around 45-50 percent. School leaders embarked on an ambitious transformation plan of community engagement with indigenous community members and elders to improve graduation rates for indigenous learners. The graduation rates for indigenous learners in Sea to Sky District are now at approximately 95 percent. 
  • Moitshepi Matsheng: Co-Founder and Country Director of Young Love, a nonprofit in Botswana & Chairperson of the Botswana National Youth Council 
    • There was an initial increase of parents interested in the programs offered, so Young Love started bulk outreach text messaging and regular phone call check-ins. There were many government-distributed E-Learning programs during the pandemic but the rates of internet access in Botswana is very low. As a result, Young Love really leaned into phone-based services as most families did have access to at least one household cellphone. 
  • Kerry-Jane Packman: Executive Director of Programs for Parentkind in the United Kingdom (National Parent Union) 
    • Parentkind is the largest PTA network across the United Kingdom (UK). Parents should be listened to on a local, regional, and national level. Parentkind represents parent voices to policy makers. A few years ago, they found that Parentkind had a wealth of data from parents and subsequently produced a blueprint for “Parent Friendly Schools” that is largely driven by a parent perspective. 
  • Samar Bajaj: Program Manager of India Programs with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation 
    • The last 12 months have really transformed parent engagement, there has been an increase in interest/ownership for parents in their children’s learning. Before, the focus was on teachers and administration, now parents are an integral part of their child’s daily education. 
State Board Context:

The State Board of Education engages community members and parents in a number of ways, including but not limited to monthly Public Meetings for community members to testify on relevant matters concerning education as well as administering surveys to gauge interest and concern for various topics in education. Individual State Board members also interact frequently with their respective ward-level education councils and other related organizations.

Furthermore, at the February 17 public meeting, the State Board voted to approve SR21-2, a resolution that established a new committee structure for the State Board. These committees are dedicated to serving the community through research and advocacy, specifically targeting the distinct areas of interest for each committee. 

The updated standing committee structures are as follows: 

  • Assessment and Accountability Committee: Chairs, Ruth Wattenberg (Ward 3) and Jacque Patterson (At-Large)
  • Education Standards Committee: Chair, Jessica Sutter (Ward 6)
  • Educator Practice Committee: Chair, Frazier O’Leary (Ward 4)
  • Advocacy and Outreach Committee: Chair, Carlene Reid (Ward 8)

While these new standing committees are in their initial planning stages, the Advocacy and Outreach Committee intends to create a Parent Advisory Committee to help improve parent and guardian voice in education policy in the District.

Stay up to date with the State Board’s work by signing up for our listserv and following us @DCSBOE on social media! 

SBOE #EdPolicy Roundup: February 2021 – COVID-19 Effects on Teacher Retention and Attrition

By Jhoselin Beltran Contreras, Policy Fellow

This month, the D.C. State Board of Education (SBOE) continues its efforts to make education research and policy concepts accessible to all stakeholders in our communities. The February 2021 #EdPolicy Research Roundup features two reports: one from the Research and Development (RAND) Corporation, which examines why teachers are leaving the profession during COVID-19, and one from the American Educational Research Association (AERA), which examines teacher turnover in early childhood education. 

As we have done in previous posts, the State Board will discuss the key findings of each report and explain the implications on the State Board’s work and priorities.

“Stress Topped the Reasons Why Public School Teachers Quit, Even Before COVID-19,” Research and Development (RAND) Corporation, February 2021

Summary: Educators have been heavily impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The report presented the results gathered from a survey of nearly 1,000 former public school teachers from November and December 2020, and revealed how critical stress has been to teachers deciding to leave the profession. 

Some of their key findings include: 

  • Almost half of the public school teachers who voluntarily stopped teaching in public schools after March 2020 and before their scheduled retirement left because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • For some teachers, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have exacerbated what were high-stress levels pre-pandemic by forcing teachers to, among other things, work more hours and navigate an unfamiliar remote environment, often with frequent technical problems.
  • Many early leavers could be lured back to public school teaching. Over half of the teachers who voluntarily left the profession early primarily because of the pandemic indicated that they would be somewhat or definitely willing to return to public school teaching once most staff and students are vaccinated. Slightly fewer of those would return if there was only regular testing of staff and students for COVID-19.
  • Stress was the most common reason for leaving public school teaching early—almost twice as common as insufficient pay. This is corroborated by the fact that a majority of early leavers went on to take jobs with either less or around equal pay, and three in ten went on to work at a job with no health insurance or retirement benefits.
  • Of the teacher leavers who are currently employed, about three in ten hold a non education-related job, another three in ten have a different type of teaching position, and the rest are in non teaching education jobs. 

The RAND researchers found that for those teacher leavers who are still in education, more flexibility was the most common attribute that attracted them to their new job. RAND recommends that districts involve teachers when developing responses geared toward reducing teacher stress. They also recommend districts and state departments of education should consider ways to increase flexibility in teachers’ schedules during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the long term.

State Board Context: 

Teacher Retention Survey Report (2020)

The State Board of Education has been working on teacher retention since 2018. In April 2020, the State Board considered the findings from a survey of recently exited public-school teachers. The survey report explored why teachers voluntarily resign/quit and it found that:

  • IMPACT was the primary departure driver in DCPS
  • Burdens of work culture and workload were primary departure reasons in public charter schools
  • Lack of support for teacher safety and mental health led to departure
  • Tensions with school leaders created hostile work environments

Across both sectors, the vast majority (66 percent) of respondents voluntarily resigned/quit, with most of the other respondents indicating they were terminated, left due to downsizing (6 percent), on temporary contracts (4 percent), or retired (4 percent).

The full report can be accessed here.

Upcoming: All-Teacher Survey (March 2021)

Additionally, the State Board has partnered with Resonant Education and launched an online survey of teachers from public and public charter schools in the District of Columbia. The State Board sought to better understand the experiences of teachers during virtual teaching, their perceptions of their student’s success in virtual learning, their thoughts on returning to in-person teaching, and how supported they have felt during the 2020-21 school year. After receiving over 1,000 teacher responses to the survey from 185 different schools representing every single DC Public School (DCPS) and the majority of public charter schools, the State Board will begin to aggregate the results of the survey and discuss takeaways that will be published in the final report, which is set to be released in mid to late March 2021.

“New Evidence on Teacher Turnover in Early Childhood,” American Educational Research Association (AERA), January 2021

Summary: Researchers provided a systemwide look at early childhood teacher turnover using data from all publicly funded, center-based early childhood programs in Louisiana, including subsidized child care, Head Start, and pre-kindergarten. New evidence was found on the prevalence of turnover and researchers explored whether teachers who leave differ from those who stay on a widely used measure of teacher–child interaction quality. They used a sample of 5,900 teachers in 1,500 programs in Louisiana.

Researchers found that more than one-third of teachers observed at their program in 2017–2018 were not teaching there the following year. This is more than twice the rate estimated for K–12 teachers (Goldring et al., 2014; Redding & Henry, 2018). The figure also shows large differences in turnover across sectors and child age. For instance, while about one-fourth of teachers working in school-based settings were no longer teaching at their program the following year, nearly half of child care teachers (46%) stopped teaching at their program from one year to the next.

State Board Context:

ECDataWorks is a research organization that collaborates with states to help attain their early childhood education goals through the innovative use of integrated data. 

On February 23, 2021, Policy Analysts Alexander Jue and Darren Flesicher presented at ECDataWorks’ national meeting on Building Resilient Data Analytics. Here, they presented the State Board of Education’s 2020 Teacher Retention Survey Report. 

These sessions were closed, but if you would like to learn more about ECDataWorks, please check them out here

The State Board has also revised their committees, and their Educator Practice committee works to support teachers and teacher retention. 

Confronting Educational Inequities to Support All D.C. Students: Jacque Patterson, At-Large

By Jacque Patterson, At-Large Representative

With the establishment of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) becoming law in 2015, the word “equity” became the focal point in public education.  But long before equity was written into law, it had been the foremost issue for me as a parent raising children in Ward 8. Like every parent in the District, I had to make a life-changing decision on where I would send my kids to school. In the midst of that decision, I experienced firsthand the inequity in our public school system. 

The systemic and structural inequities inherent in the District of Columbia’s public school system are what drove me to run for the at-large position on the State Board of Education. Over the last three decades, city leaders have tried to deal with educational inequities in various ways, such as the adoption of charter schools, the MySchoolDC lottery, and mayoral control without much progress in closing the achievement and opportunity gap for Black and Brown children. 

While the pandemic has ravished our country, it also has exposed educational inequities in urgent and undeniable ways that present State Board of Education representatives an opportunity to reimagine what public education should and can be if we redesign our public education ecosystem with equity at the center of policy and practice. 

As the new at-large representative, I’m focused on the quality of a student’s education in every zip code of our great city.  I’m encouraged by the community conversations I’ve had with residents that want to work on making D.C. public education better.  And that’s where I believe we start, in our communities. 

There is a saying that drives how I approach my position on the State Board of Education: “Those closest to the problems are closest to the solutions.”  Representatives on the State Board of Education have an obligation to elevate the voices of students, parents, teachers, and education advocates in the public forum of public education policymaking.  The only way we ensure every student succeeds is to ensure every student gets what they need. That’s my definition of equity. And I look forward to working with residents to make sure that happens.

An Education of Our Own: Dr. Carlene Reid, Ward 8

By Dr. Carlene Reid, Ward 8 Representative

My ward has had every negative statistic imaginable thrown at us. The numbers that we are high in are often not viewed positively. Yet, between my experiences growing up in a couple of churches and establishing a home eight years ago, I cannot help but think of the values that make Ward 8 strong in spirit.

My ties to Ward 8 stretch back to my infancy, as my parents were married in a small church on 13th and W Street in Southeast. I was also christened there. When I was not at church with my mom, I was with my “aunt,” a neighbor who supported me between my parents’ work schedules, participating in Sunday school and fashion shows at Matthews Memorial Baptist Church. My connection to Ward 8 is rooted in the community—a community that values neighborly acts, passionate advocacy, and deep commitment to initiatives that improve the outcomes of all individuals who call the ward home regardless of social stature. 

I raise the aforementioned characteristics because my goal as the State Board of Education representative is to infuse the Ward 8 community’s strong values into education decision-making. Centering Black and Brown voices in education can no longer equate to an educational system forcing elements that are contradictory to our rich cultures and traditions. Kwame Ture posed a question that we have yet to answer: “When have we had the authority to shape our own destiny and to get our destiny to mesh with who we are culturally?” 

As your Ward 8 representative, my goal is to engage the community and identify education initiatives to assert our shared values. I will use my 15 years of experience in various settings, including D.C. Public Schools, the charter sector, city education agencies, and on the national level, to collaborate with Ward 8 residents to identify educational initiatives and strategies that may benefit our children with meaningful outcomes.

I look forward to serving my neighbors throughout Ward 8 by elevating our ideas and concerns around the educational system in D.C. My specific areas of interest are literacy, special education, supplemental learning opportunities, and school funding. I believe that engaging Ward 8 communities around these specific topics is a start. However, I’m interested in discussing other ideas and innovations for education. 

I believe the strong spirit of community in Ward 8 often goes unnoticed. This is the ward where my parents were married, the ward where I was christened, and the ward where so many beautiful things have happened in my life. I look to infuse how hard we strive to build a sense of community, the beautiful smiles that greet you at doors, and the warm feeling of unsolicited “good mornings” into how we make and support an educational system reflective of our values.

I want to hear from you! Please reach out to me at carlene.reid@dc.gov or  (202) 618-0525, @creidsboe.

Preparing Our Students With an Education That Will Allow Them to Accomplish Their Dreams: Eboni-Rose Thompson, Ward 7

By Eboni-Rose Thompson, Ward 7 Representative

I was told by one of my high school teachers that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. I believe we will truly be lucky as a city to be a place that measures ourselves not by those who have the most, or by those who have beaten the odds and succeeded, but rather when we measure ourselves by making the odds that our kids do succeed. I imagine that can be true, and I know it is possible not only from my own experience, but from the experience of people like my mom, my stepdad, and my sisters—all D.C. natives, all educated in D.C., all thriving in the city we call home.

My mom is a D.C. Public School (DCPS) teacher, but she wasn’t always a teacher. Long before my mother was in the classroom, she was an electrician. She wired some of the hotel rooms downtown. It’s actually how she met my step dad when they worked together at PEPCO. I remember her working her way through college at the University of the District of Columbia when I was a child. I was at her graduation.

I share that with you because preparation is not one path. It’s making sure our children have the skills to choose their own paths, to change paths, and to create paths that don’t yet exist.

D.C. has so many paths and so many opportunities. We don’t have an opportunity issue—we have a preparation issue. We are a great and powerful city. However, in order for us to be a truly great city, we must become a city that prepares our kids with an education that will allow them to accomplish their dreams.

The mission of the State Board is to provide policy leadership, support, advocacy, and oversight of public education to ensure that every student is valued and learns the skills and knowledge necessary to become an informed, competent, and contributing global citizen. Essentially, the State Board works to make sure our kids are prepared for their dreams.

I went to elementary, middle, and high school in Ward 7. I know firsthand that my childhood friends and college friends were not offered the same educational opportunities. I ran to represent Ward 7 on the State Board of Education because I believe we must prepare all our children to take advantage of the opportunities before them, and I want to work to make that possible for children who went to the schools that I went to, in the part of the city that I grew up in, and still call home. Preparation is the issue I want to solve, and representing Ward 7 on the State Board is my opportunity to help solve it.

Advancing Literacy Across D.C., Allister Chang, Ward 2

By: Allister Chang, Ward 2 Representative

Ever since being sworn in on January 2nd as a member of the D.C. State Board of Education, I can’t stop thinking about the urgency for literacy among all of our students.

Imagine you’re in 4th grade. Your social studies teacher calls on you to answer a question about the Declaration of Independence. You struggled to read the homework last night, so you mumble a response. You pretend not to care, but deep down you’re feeling frustrated. You zone-out for the rest of the class. 

Literacy matters for students. Children who do not read proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation

“I wasn’t prepared to teach 10th graders who can’t read,” a high-school biology teacher recently lamented to me. Literacy isn’t only important for the humanities, illiteracy stalls science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning, too.

Literacy matters for all of us. In a pandemic, it matters that everyone in the community knows how to read health and safety guidelines. Media literacy matters too. Learning how to read is just the beginning. In 2021, we must prepare our students to navigate emerging technologies and to distinguish between fact from fiction online. Our Founding Fathers wrote extensively about the importance of literacy education as the foundations of a vibrant democracy, a privilege that we too often take for granted.

Expanding literacy opportunities for D.C. students is personal for me. My father immigrated to D.C. from Taipei. Though he couldn’t teach me how to read, he worked hard as a waiter in D.C.’s Chinatown in order to connect me to literacy-learning opportunities that allowed me to pursue my own path: to become a first-generation college graduate and to become the first Asian-American elected to D.C.’s State Board of Education.

All children deserve access to those opportunities. Over the next four years, advancing literacy across DC is my top priority, and I’ll need your help. Through my newsletter, I’ll be sharing opportunities for you to join me in amplifying literacy learning. Let’s get all our students reading!

SBOE #EdPolicy Roundup: January 2021 – Assessment Data and Tutoring

By Rachel Duff, Policy Fellow

In the new year, the D.C. State Board of Education (SBOE) will renew its “Research Roundup” in an effort to increase focus on select education research and policy concepts, specifically to make the implications of this research accessible to all stakeholders in our communities. 

This January 2021#EdPolicy Research Roundup features two reports: one from the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), which presents initial findings on students’ reading and math achievement in fall 2020 and one from the Learning Policy Institute, which examines potential tutoring structures to mitigate COVID-19 learning loss.

As we have done previously, the State Board will discuss the key findings of each report and explain the implications on the State Board’s work and priorities.

“Learning during COVID-19: Initial findings on students’ reading and math achievement and growth” Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), November 2020

Summary: This report presented data collected from the MAP Growth Assessments administered in the 2019-2020 school year as compared to fall 2020. The assessment was administered both in-person and remotely in fall 2020 and NWEA found remote testing results to be consistent with in-person testing for students in grades 3-8 but may qualitatively differ for the youngest students.

Some of their key findings include: 

  • In the fall 2020 assessment, students in grades 3-8 performed similarly in reading to same-grade students in fall 2019, but about 5 to 10 percentile points lower in math
  • Although median percentiles in reading were comparable to students in the same grades prior to COVID-19 disruptions, initial evidence pointed to minor declines in reading specifically for Hispanic and Black students in the upper elementary grades. 
  • Missing assessment data from student attrition in fall 2020 limited the analysis of data and resulting in a likely underestimation of COVID-19 impacts on student achievement.
  • The pattern of absent or missing student data was found to be in the following student groups: ethnic/racial minority students, students with lower achievement in fall 2019, and students in schools with higher concentrations of socioeconomically disadvantaged students.

The NWEA found that pairing the assessment results with the pattern of absent students highlighted the importance of connecting to students and families to provide support both in remote and in-person settings. They also found that the assessment results indicated a clear and critical need for local data in order to understand where students have fallen behind and to guide future support. The NWEA recommends that data collected by school districts and states be transparently reported to inform our collective understanding of students’ unmet needs.

State Board Context: In the District of Columbia, The Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) is submitting requests to the US Department of Education (USED) for flexibility in implementing components of the statewide accountability system known as the Schools Transparency and Reporting (STAR) Framework and other accountability elements required in the state’s approved Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan.

The specific requests OSSE will be submitting are as follows: 

  • Through the ESSA Addendum, ask for flexibility to identified areas of the accountability system to which USED has identified as being directly impacted by unavailable data from the 2019-20 school year and the continued impacts resulting from the COVID-19 national emergency.
    • OSSE will not calculate the School Transparency and Reporting (STAR) Framework for the 2020-21 school year.
    • OSSE will not identify new schools for Comprehensive or targeted support using data from the 2020-21 school year.
    • OSSE will shift all three long term goals forward by one year.
      1. Academic Achievement: “OSSE’s long-term goal is for the vast majority, or 85 percent, of all students and students in each subgroup to demonstrate college and career readiness on its statewide standardized achievement assessments as signified by scoring at level 4 and higher on PARCC and level 3 and higher on MSAA.”
      2. Graduation Rate: “OSSE’s long-term goal is that over the next approximately 20 years, 90 percent of all students in its adjusted cohort will graduate within four years, fully closing gaps between groups of students by that point in time, with a key milestone of seeing all student groups improve and cutting gaps in half over the next ten years.”
      3. English Language Proficiency: “OSSE administers the Access for ELLs 2.0 as an annual measure of English language proficiency for students identified as English learners. Students are deemed proficient when they achieve a composite score of 5.0 (bridging) on the summative assessment.”
  • Through a waiver, to address those components not included in the addendum but are also impacted by unavailable data and impacts as a result of the current COVID-19 emergency, OSSE will request flexibility to aive the administration of DC Science for the 2020-21 school year.
  • Waive the identification of Targeted Support 1 (TS1) schools in school year 2020-21 and 2021-22 due to the absence of STAR Framework scores and limitations with growth calculations, which would utilize data from the 2020-21 school year.

The D.C. State Board of Education (SBOE) submitted public comment on January 22, 2021 and requested the following from OSSE:

  • The State Board asks OSSE to clarify whether funding allocated for Comprehensive Support (CS1) schools will  cover five (5) years instead of three (3), or whether more funding will be allocated for the additional two (2) years these schools spend during their CS1 status. 
  • The State Board urges OSSE to not include the academic year 2018–19 STAR rating as prominently on current iterations of the DC School Report Card as this data may be misleading to families.
  • The State Board encourages OSSE to provide additional support for schools as they prepare to welcome back and assess students during the reopening process.
“Learning in the Time of COVID-19: The Importance of Getting Tutoring Right”, Learning Policy Institute, January 2021

Summary: This report examines the profound learning losses students have faced, particularly students of color, students from low-income families, and other underserved students. The Learning Policy Institute presents tutoring as a potential strategy to mitigate these learning losses but emphasizes that a poorly constructed tutoring program would be an inefficient use of time, money, and resources that would not significantly impact student learning.

The report presents four different tutoring programs that have been successful in implementing structures of tutoring that directly increase student achievement and it includes elements that contribute to their success. 

  • Reading Recovery: Has documented success with first graders, including students with reading disabilities and English language learners. Students work one-on-one with a certified teacher trained in reading instruction. Student participation resulted in a reading growth rate that is 31% greater than the average growth rate nationally for beginning first graders. This program costs $2,500 per teacher and $100 per student. 
  • Number Rockets: Teacher candidates in teacher preparation programs receive 10 hours of training and use a scripted curriculum designed for first graders struggling in math. They work with two or three students at a time and participate in three 40-minutes sessions a week over 17 weeks. Student scores improved on a standardized math test by 0.34 standard deviations. The training cost is $1,500 plus travel expenses, $64 for implementation manuals, and $30 for supplemental materials. 
  • ROOTS: District-employed paraprofessionals provide math tutoring intervention for kindergarteners. They receive 10 hours of training and two or more feedback sessions from coaches. Tutors provide daily 20-minute math lessons for 50 days in groups of 3-5 students. Students improved scores on standardized tests by 0.35-0.45 standard deviations. The training for this program costs $250 per teacher. 
  • Match Corps: AmeriCorps members provide 9th and 10th grade students with 60 minutes of 2-on-1 tutoring each day for a full school year. They receive 100 hours of training, daily supervision, and feedback for continuous improvement. Students’ math achievement scores improved (0.19-0.31 SD) and their course failures were reduced by half. This program costs around $2,500 per student.

State Board Context: During the January 2021 Public Meeting, the D.C. State Board of Education heard from panelists about learning loss, tutoring, and other options. The individuals who came to testify included Marisa Tersy an Education Improvement Specialist with EmpowerK12, Kyndra V. Middleton an Associate Professor and Educational Psychology Program Coordinator with Howard University, Matthew A. Kraft an Associate Professor of Education & Economics with Brown University, Shwetlena Sabarwal a Senior Economist in Education Global Practice with The World Bank, and Robert Slavin the Director of the Center for Research and Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University and Co-Founder of Success for All Foundation. They testified that the learning loss has been significant for students, specifically for minority students, and that an effective tutoring structure could potentially provide both teachers and students with a resource to mitigate learning loss. Written testimony provided for the Public Meeting can be found here.