Castle on the Hill- Our Visit to Cardozo Education Campus

Cardozo Visit May 2019

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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A “First Friday” at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom PCS – East End

By Sara Gopalkrishna, Policy Fellow

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 Fridays tour 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.

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A Letter from the Chief Student Advocate – Faith Gibson Hubbard

Dear Colleagues, Partners, and Friends,

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.

Warmly,

Faith Gibson Hubbard
Outgoing Chief Student Advocate for Office of the Student Advocate

#SBOESelfieTour to Promote Student Voice

By Lanita Logan, Staff Assistant

Last Friday, two SBOE staff members and I went on a #SBOESelfieTour to promote and highlight the work of the State Board’s two student representatives and the Student Advisory Committee (SAC). Student voice is extremely important to SBOE and has been integral to our work since the State Board’s inception. Our student representatives participate in all SBOE activities and the SAC serves as the voice of District students in the State Board’s work.

During this #SBOESelfieTour, we visited five different high schools to pass out flyers and information on the application process for school year 2019–20 student representatives and SAC members (application here). All applicants must be a District resident and a rising sophomore, junior, or senior in either a traditional public (DCPS) or public charter high school.

The first high school on the list was Ward 8’s National Collegiate Preparatory  and the experience there was very interesting. Then we traveled to Ward 7 and The SEED School—and, I must say, that was a very good experience, as the staff there were very open to passing out our information to their students. We also visited Friendship Collegiate Academy and Cesar Chavez Parkside High School (where we took a selfie picture under a beautiful cherry blossom tree). Our last stop was Ward 5’s Washington Leadership Academy. The energy and excitement at each school was great to see! We look forward to reviewing all the student’s applications.

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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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