Dayja Burton and Alex O’Sullivan to Serve as Student Representatives

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

Earlier this summer, the State Board of Education was thrilled to announce the selection of Dayja Burton, a rising senior at McKinley Technology High School, and Alex O’Sullivan, a rising sophomore at BASIS DC PCS, as Student Representatives for the 2019–20 school year. For the length of their term, these outstanding students will join our nine elected State Board members in policy discussions and community engagement efforts, bringing the voice of students directly to decision makers. With their direct experience in the classroom, student representatives provide a unique voice during policy discussions and offer a vital perspective on teacher retention, education standards, and our state accountability system.

Dayja Burton is a McKinley Technology Zelinger award winner, a recipient of the Perseverance Award, and a member of the Principal’s Honor Roll and National Honor Society. Alex O’Sullivan is a member of Youth and Government, co-founder and president of his school’s poetry club, and a volunteer tutor at his local elementary school. As Student Representatives, Burton and O’Sullivan will also co-chair the 2019–20 Student Advisory Committee (SAC), a volunteer group of students from District high schools in both D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) and the public charter sector.

The State Board began an open application process for both the Student Representative positions and the SAC in March, receiving 40 applicants from both traditional public and public charter school students. The SBOE sought students who were passionate about serving their community, as these individuals bring a vital voice to the education policy-making process in the District.

The SAC serves as the voice of students in the State Board’s work. They are consulted on issues of policy before the Board. The SAC meets at least once per month. Each year, the Committee sends the SBOE a report on a matter of importance to District students, providing recommended next steps. If rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors are interested in joining the Student Advisory Committee, contact us at sboe@dc.gov. For more information, please visit sboe.dc.gov/studentvoices.

SBOE #EdPolicy Research Roundup: July 2019

By: Jordan Miller, Policy Fellow

This month, the DC State Board of Education (SBOE) continued its efforts to make education research and policy concepts accessible to all stakeholders in our communities. The July 2019 #EdPolicy Research Roundup features two reports: one from the Center for American Progress (CAP) about the unique debt burdens Black and Latinx educators face and a second by David M. Houston & Jeffrey R. Henig on the effects of showing parents growth data when they search for new schools.

As we did last month, SBOE will discuss the key findings of each report and explain the implications on the State Board’s work and priorities.

Student Debt: An Overlooked Barrier to Increasing Teacher Diversity”

Center for American Progress (CAP), July 2019

Summary: In this report, CAP outlines the way student debt uniquely impacts Black and Latinx educators. Black and Latinx students are more likely than their white counterparts to borrow money to complete their education as well as attain graduate degrees, making their student debt a barrier to attracting and retaining them as teachers. On average, Black teachers earn less than their white counterparts, which makes it even more difficult to repay the higher loan burden they carry. CAP outlines some policy recommendations:

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Teacher Retention Top of Mind at ECS National #EdPolicy Forum

By: John-Paul Hayworth, Executive Director

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. 

 

SBOE #EdPolicy Research Roundup: June 2019

By: Alexander Jue, Policy Analyst

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. Auditor on 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.

“Fulfilling the Promise of School Choice by Building More Effective Supports for Families” Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE), June 2019

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”

Student Leaders Present Recommendations on Teacher Turnover and Equity Across Schools

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

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.

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Strawberries & Salad Greens Day

By: Ashley MacLeay, At-Large Representative, and Alexander Jue, Policy Analyst

Earlier this month, we had the chance to visit Aiton Elementary School in Ward 7 and Murch Elementary School in Ward 3 for their Strawberries & Salad Greens Day festivities. Since 2011, the Health & Wellness Division at OSSE has sponsored this city-wide event as a way to showcase locally grown produce in school meals.

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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.

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A First Fridays Visit to DC Bilingual Public Charter School

By: Caitlin Peng, Policy Fellow

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.

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Thanks for the Ride!

By: Sara Gopalkrishna, Policy Fellow

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 tour to 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!

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State Board Gears up for Vote on High School Growth Measure

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

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.

Here are the highlights:

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Castle on the Hill- Our Visit to Cardozo Education Campus

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.

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