A “First Friday” at Digital Pioneers Academy

By Sara Gopalkrishna, Policy Fellow

I had the opportunity to visit Digital Pioneers Academy (DPA) as part of First Fridays—a series of monthly learning tours that spotlight D.C. charter schools. The description “digital pioneer” aptly describes this school. The public charter middle school is the first-ever computer science focused middle school in the District. Deliberately grounded in Ward 7, Mashea Ashton, the school’s founder, and her staff are rounding the corner on the inaugural year of the school, alongside the 120 sixth-grade scholars, mostly local to the Hillcrest community, where the school resides.

With a 1-to-1 ratio of computers to students and with teachers and students using technology tools with ease, everyone in this school is a pioneer. Students at DPA have a 55-minute computer science class every day, but they use their computers all day long. This is striking when, nationally, only 31 percent of seventh and eighth graders use a computer at school every day. [1]

The school adopted the RePublic model for computer science curriculum and instruction, after researching its use in Tennessee charter schools. The approach allows teachers with strong pedagogy and the willingness to learn new content the opportunity to learn computer science material independently and step-by-step, while staying ahead of their students. The 10- and 11-year old students have used Scratch to explore game development, are currently using CodePen to script and view web pages they are developing, and will start programming with JavaScript soon.

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We the People!

Since 1987, The We the People: Citizen & the Constitution Program has brought civic responsibility directly into the minds of students. By simulating a congressional hearing with students in the role of expert witnesses, the program enables students to explore constitutional concepts and apply them to their life and the world around them.

The DC State Board of Education was pleased to host this year’s middle and high school District-wide competitions at One Judiciary Square. The location enabled students to present the information they had researched and prepared in sight of the U.S. Capitol Building and other major federal landmarks.

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Langley Elementary Touts Conscious Discipline

Langley Elementary Visit 2019

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

Earlier this month, Langley Elementary School Principal Vanessa Drumm-Canepa and PTSA President Christina Svolopoulos Robbins welcomed State Board members Ruth Wattenberg, Ashley MacLeay, Jessica Sutter, and some of my SBOE staff colleagues to tour their school. Langley ES is a PK–5 neighborhood DCPS school with approximately 300 students, located in the District’s Northeast neighborhood of Eckington in Ward 5.

During the first portion of the visit, we sat down with Principal Drumm-Canepa and Ms. Svolopoulos Robbins to learn more about the programs offered at Langley. Principal Drumm-Canepa and Assistant Principal Shaunte Jennings have transformed Langley in the past two and a half years through the implementation of a social-emotional learning (SEL) program called Conscious Discipline.  

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Meet Your New Ombudsman for Public Education: Serena Hayes

Serena Hayes Profile 2019

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

After an extensive search process, the SBOE announces the selection of Serena Hayes as the next District of Columbia Ombudsman for Public Education. Hayes is the third person ever to serve as the District of Columbia’s Ombudsman for Public Education, succeeding Joyanna Smith. The position was originally established as a critical component of the Public Education Reform Amendment Act of 2007 and was reestablished as part of the State Board in 2014. The Office of the Ombudsman is an impartial, independent, and neutral office that uses mediation and conflict resolution to resolve complaints and concerns for parents and families regarding public education in the District of Columbia.

Hayes, a resident of Ward 5, is a graduate of the Howard University Law School and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology, and anthropology from Washington and Lee University. Ms. Hayes has coached individuals and groups on conflict resolution strategies, and empowered families in developing self-awareness, and find and use their voice. She has provided training across the District in conflict management and has provided re-entry mediation services at the D.C. Jail. She received the 2017 Lorig Charkoudian Volunteer of the Year award for commitment to mediation, for exemplifying quality in the delivery of mediation, and dedication to furthering her mediation skills. Ms. Hayes also facilitated large group discussion for the Consent Decree issued after the death of Freddie Gray, where listening sessions were held for Baltimoreans to generate criteria that would be used to monitor police conduct and improve the relationship between police and the city residents.

Ms. Hayes was appointed to her new role at tonight’s SBOE public meeting for a term of five years beginning on January 22, 2019.

Teacher and Principal Retention

By: Alexander Jue, Policy Analyst

Teachers are the foundation of a quality education, and they are vital to the success of our students and our schools. The goals of excellence and equity in education in the District of Columbia cannot be achieved without a thriving, highly effective teacher workforce.

In May 2018, SBOE contracted with local education researcher and data analyst Mary Levy to produce a report on teacher and principal retention in the District of Columbia. The report was intended to establish a foundation for a deeper investigation of the challenge of retaining highly effective teachers.

In October, SBOE released the commissioned report along with three recommendations. The report found that teacher turnover at the DCPS system level is roughly 19 percent, and average annual teacher turnover at the school level in both traditional public schools and charter schools has consistently been about 25 percent. The report also found that turnover in DCPS neighborhood schools is highest in Wards 5 and 8, but that charter school turnover rates are largely the same regardless of location. At SBOE’s October 24 public meeting, over 15 public witnesses shared their experience on this issue. Continue reading

State Board in the Community: October 2018

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

This month, State Board members ushered in Fall by attending community events, connecting with students and parents, and supporting local DC public schools and public charter schools.

Joe (Ward 6) supported student walkers at the annual #WalkToSchoolDay sponsored by CHPSPO.


Laura (Ward 1)
celebrated the grand opening of Rocketship Legacy Prep.

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SBOE Weekly Ed Links: 10-27-2018

Success at School

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

Check out the latest in education news and events here in the District and around the nation!

SBOE IN THE NEWS
Why are so many DC teachers leaving their jobs? | WTOP

City announces plan to use vacant Shaw site for Banneker expansion | DC Line

DC NEWS
Paying it Forward; DC Moms Teaming Up to End Childhood Hunger | Fox 5
Nothing pulls at the heartstrings like the thought of a child going hungry and three DC mothers are teaming up to Pay It Forward by working to solve childhood hunger in the District.

College admission test scores raise warning signs about math achievement | Washington Post
Scores on college admission tests for the Class of 2018 are sending warning signs about math achievement in the nation’s high schools.

Eight Cities – Washington, D.C. | Bellwether Education Partners
Washington, D.C. is a city of paradoxes: It is the capital of a nation that champions democracy, but its own citizens long lacked a democratic vote in their governance. As the seat of power of one of the world’s richest nations, D.C. sees nearly 17 percent of its residents living in poverty, much higher than the 12.3 percent national average.

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SBOE Weekly Ed Links: 10-20-2018

Colored Pencils

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

Check out our breakdown of the latest in education news here in the District and around the country.

SBOE IN THE NEWS
Report on DC teacher turnover in excess of national average prompts look at ways to improve retention | DC Line

DC NEWS
Mayor Says She Didn’t Know About Events That Led To Her Chancellor’s Resignation. This Report Says Differently | DCist
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has claimed for months that she didn’t initially know about the events which eventually led to the resignation of former schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson. However, a new report appears to challenge what the mayor knew, and when.

Mayor Bowser Announces New Partnership with Bard College | Mayor Bowser
Mayor Muriel Bowser and interim DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Amanda Alexander announced a new partnership between DCPS and Bard College that will provide students the opportunity to earn college credit and an associate degree from Bard College while earning their high school diploma. Opening in school year 2019-2020, Bard Early College High School will be a tuition-free, four-year, early college high school operated jointly by Bard College and DCPS.

D.C. partners with college to offer associates degree to high schoolers in poorest neighborhoods | Washington Post
The District’s public school system is partnering with Bard College in New York to open a school next fall that will allow students to graduate from high school with a two-year college associate degree.

Many families at acclaimed D.C. arts school cleared of enrollment fraud, school leaders and parents say | Washington Post
Administrators and parents at Duke Ellington School of the Arts say a significant share of families accused of residency fraud have been cleared of wrongdoing — an assertion that appears to undermine a high-profile investigation that rocked the acclaimed public arts school in the District.

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A “First Friday” at Briya Public Charter School

Briya Public Charter School

By: Alexander Jue, Policy Analyst

What does two-generation learning mean and how has it been implemented in the District? How do public schools establish themselves as the center of their communities? During a recent visit to Briya Public Charter School’s Fort Totten campus, I had the opportunity to witness this two-generation learning approach, as well as see the additional community and social services provided through the school’s partnership with Mary’s Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center community health center in the District.

  • Two-generation learning – Briya’s mission is to strengthen families through culturally responsive two-generation education. At Briya, parents and their young children learn together. Parents study English—from basic to advanced levels—and practice digital literacy and parenting skills. At the same time, their Pre-K–3 and Pre-K–4 children, as well as infants and toddlers, receive a high-quality early education in dual-language, project-based classes right across the hall. Parents and children also participate in intentional weekly Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time.
  • Briya and Mary’s Center partnership – For nearly 20 years, Briya and Mary’s Center have partnered closely to provide education, health care, and social services for families. Through this partnership—and their shared philosophy of social change—Briya and Mary’s Center exemplify how a public school can serve as the hub for a community.

 

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SBOE Weekly Ed Links: 10-05-2018

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

Here is our weekly rundown of the latest District education news and events!

SBOE IN THE NEWS
High Salaries, But High Turnover In D.C. Public Schools, Study Finds | WAMU

A Teacher’s Perspective on DC’s data-based Personalized Learning Program | Data Quality Campaign

D.C. Teacher Turnover Exceeds National Average, Report | Washington Informer

SCHOOL REPORT CARD UNDER ESSA
DC School Report Card At A Glance
STAR Framework At A Glance
2018-19 DC School Report Card and STAR Framework Technical Guide
OSSE School Report Card Site

 TEACHER TURNOVER REPORT
SBOE Teacher Turnover Report
DCPS Response to Teacher Turnover Report

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