Attracting and retaining teachers who are not only qualified, but good, is a problem in every state. At this year’s National Forum on Education Policy earlier this month in Denver, Colorado, delegates heard presentations on teacher retention and credentialing, new ideas on career and technical education and insights from teachers of the year.
One of the biggest topics discussed by the executive directors of state boards of education across the country was how each state was attempting to tackle the problem of losing good teachers. We talked about how higher salaries were important, but that research (and teachers directly) had shown that the biggest impact on a teacher leaving a school is the support they get from the leadership and their peers.
The Education Commission of the States (ECS) began in 1965 with the adoption of the Compact for Education by Congress. ECS serves as an education research and policy reporting body for all the states, territories and the District of Columbia. The President of the State Board of Education is a Commissioner of ECS. For the past three years, ECS has utilized grant funding to also bring together the executive directors from state boards of education across the country to compare notes and strategize on policy problems.
The Forum left me feeling hopeful for education policy across the nation and with some new and innovative ideas that might work for the District of Columbia.
This month, the DC State Board of Education (SBOE) continues its effort to make education research and policy concepts accessible to all stakeholders in our communities. The June 2019 #EdPolicy Research Roundup features two reports: one from Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) on how to support families with choosing a school and a second from the Office of the D.C. Auditoron the use of at-risk student funds in our public schools.
As we have done previously, SBOE will discuss the key findings of each report and explain the implications on the State Board’s work and priorities.
Summary:Today, across 47 states and the District of Columbia, families can enroll their children in a public school outside their neighborhood. In about 200 school districts across the country, at least one in ten students in the public school system attend charter schools. Navigating the school choice process can be complicated for families and providing support to them is essential to ensuring that public education systems are working for everyone. CRPE highlights the work of D.C. School Reform Now (DCSRN) and what the organization has done to help families in the District’s most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods find success with school choice and enroll in high-quality schools. CRPE highlights effective strategies and learnings for helping families navigate choice landscapes: Continue reading “SBOE #EdPolicy Research Roundup: June 2019”
Last week, our outgoing Student Representatives Tatiana Robinson (Ballou High School) and Marjoury Alicea (Capital City Public Charter School) joined Student Advisory Committee (SAC) members Hannah Dunn & Aaliyah Dick (both of Wilson High School) to present the end-of-year SAC report to State Board members. During the June public meeting, these student leaders shared highlights from the Committee’s recommendations, which focused on solutions for teacher retention and equity across District schools.
Aiton Elementary School partnered with DC Central Kitchen to teach students about different fruits and vegetables that could be grown in the District. Students were able to touch and taste local fruits and vegetables like cherry tomatoes and cucumbers grown from a truck garden. In addition, the students learned proper knife techniques and cut strawberries, kale, and carrots. They mixed the ingredients together with a strawberry vinaigrette dressing to create a fresh summer strawberry salad that everyone enjoyed.
On June 7, I had the opportunity to tour DC Bilingual (DCB) Public Charter School as a part of First Fridays, a series of monthly tours that spotlights top-performing D.C public charter schools. Not only was this my first time participating in a First Fridays tour, but also my first time stepping foot into a public charter school. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but by the end of the tour, I experienced a snapshot of a public charter school where a strong sense of community permeated throughout the hallways and classrooms.
Thanks for the ride, SBOE! As a DCPS parent and a doctoral student of education policy, these last five months as a Policy Fellow at the DC State Board of Education have been illuminating and fun. I have come to understand the structure of educational governance in the District and learned a lot about the people who operate within it. (One day, I’ll diagram it for you!) I was given to the time and task of listening to and watching City Council testimony on education issues and offices, and, of course, SBOE meetings. I had the opportunity to participate in First Friday tours of DC charter schools and peek into some high schools on an SBOE selfie tourto recruit high school students to serve as Student Representatives and members of the State Board Student Advisory Committee. The staff provided opportunities for me to explore DC student data, write memos, contribute blog posts, and ask a lot of questions!
At our April and May public meetings, SBOE members welcomed school leaders and experts from non-profits, local and national education policy organizations, and universities for a discussion on different ways to measure student and high school growth in public schools. 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. Growth can be measured in a number of different ways. As there is currently no high school growth measure included in the STAR Framework, the State Board has been convening expert panels on the topic of growth measurement. The State Board heard discussions on median growth percentile (MGP) and growth to proficiency, as well as learned more about value-add measurement (VAM). Additional insights from District high school principals on how the growth of their students should be represented was also heard.
"Adding a high school growth metric would be the District’s way of acknowledging that the starting point matters as much as the finish line. This is critical for the students we serve.” pic.twitter.com/cnAezCTy1G
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.
No one should ever turn down an opportunity to tour a pre-K classroom in DC. Lucky for me, an opportunity was presented to me. As part of the First Fridaystour of DC charter schools, Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Charter School welcomed us to their new East End campus. Stokes PCS is known in the city as providing dual-language instruction for elementary school students. They offer Spanish-English and French-English elementary school classrooms. Linda Moore founded the school in 1998 and named it after her mother. After moving from its first location in Mt. Pleasant to 16th Street NW, the first campus eventually found its home in Brookland.
With the Brookland campus in such high demand—that it seemed that only siblings could enroll—it was time to expand after 20 years. With careful and deliberate planning, the Stokes team planned and opened its second campus in fall 2018, enrolling 135 pre-K and kindergarten students. Tucked in the eastern-most corner of the city in Ward 7, Stokes East End is the only bilingual elementary school east of the river. The school shares a building with Maya Angelou PCS, a high school. The two schools strategically share the gym, the cafeteria, and other resources such that the young scholars and older ones are kept separate, using shared spaces at different times of the day.
After four years, I am leaving my role as Chief Student Advocate for the District of Columbia.
In May 2015, I opened the doors of the Office of the Student Advocate and became the first Chief Student Advocate for the District of Columbia. This experience has been life-changing for me. In our work, we support families in navigating the complexity of public education in the District and work to demystify our city systems in order to remove barriers and provide access for families. We partner with families and other education stakeholders to identify problems and work toward solutions. We work diligently to equip families with the information, resources, and tools they need to be their own best advocates. We collaborate with agencies, offices, and other partners to advocate and work toward the best possible outcomes for students. I am so proud of the great work we’ve accomplished during my tenure, and I am excited about the great work on the horizon.
As we all work for a more inclusive and equitable system, I ask that you continue to direct people to the great resources and support the Office of the Student Advocate has to offer. During this time of transition, I am confident that the work of the office will continue at a high level and deepen in its reach and scope. I have a phenomenal staff who live and breathe this work in the same way that I do. The vision of the office is not mine alone – it is ours – and I know, without a doubt, they will continue to do great things under the leadership of Dan Davis, who currently serves as my deputy. Dan’s career in this space spans over 12 years, and he has served as my deputy for almost three of those years. He is an amazing servant leader and will continue our work as the interim Chief Student Advocate.
I wholeheartedly believe students and families are the foundation of a quality public education system and the catalyst moving us forward to the prosperity everyone in our city deserves to experience. As Chief Student Advocate, I have been fortunate enough to witness families activate the power they inherently possess. We must recognize and value the voice, access, and power of families as it is what will continue to move our great city forward. My departure is bittersweet, but I am excited to continue my service to District families and communities as the first Executive Director of Thrive by Five DC. I look forward to our paths crossing again in my new capacity.
I am humbled to have served as the first Chief Student Advocate, and I thank you all for your partnership in this work.
Faith Gibson Hubbard Outgoing Chief Student Advocate for Office of the Student Advocate