By: Maria Salciccioli, Senior Policy Analyst
One of the most interesting conversations I attended this summer was the report release event for FutureEd’s A Policymaker’s Playbook: Transforming Public School Teaching in the Nation’s Capital. The event opened with remarks from Council Chair Mendelson, Council Education Chair Grosso, and Interim Deputy Mayor Smith. Thomas Toch then presented some of the findings from his report. He said that the Rhee era, under Chancellors Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson, was marked by a “transformation of the profession from low-status occupation with weak standards to performance-based professional providing recognitions, responsibility, collegiality, support, and significant compensation.” He noted that these improvements were actually what Michelle Rhee’s critics were looking for, and no other districts have accomplished them to the same extent. The results were achieved through initiatives that unions and Rhee’s other adversaries opposed, but also those they supported:
- The IMPACT evaluation system
- Performance pay and staffing (top salaries rose in the 10-year period from $87,000 to $132,000 for 10-month schools)
- The LIFT career ladder, which provides leadership opportunities for classroom teachers
- School-based professional development through the LEAP system
The result was a greater number of new hires with teaching experience (from 66% to 84%), retention of 94% of highly effective teachers and only 49% of minimally effective teachers (who only make up 5% of the teaching force). However, Toch acknowledged that there are still troubling facts and trends: only 15% of black students scored proficient on PARCC reading assessments, LEAP implementation is uneven, zoned high schools are a major challenge, and poverty is a formidable barrier. He concluded by saying that despite these issues, schools are much better than they were before the reform era.
By: Matt Repka, Policy Analyst
Earlier this week, Councilmember David Grosso kicked off his series of education town halls in Ward 8 at the Anacostia public library. This was the first of eight such town halls, one in each ward of the city, over the summer. The town hall was led by five youth leaders, including our very own outgoing Student Representative Tallya Rhodes!
Approximately 30 community members, including students, teachers, parents, principals, and other stakeholders joined the town hall to share thoughts and ideas about schools in the District. Members of the media were present as the five students on the panel facilitated a robust discussion.
By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow
Between 2003 and 2015, the District of Columbia experienced large achievement gains for its students: double-digit gains in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a growth in attendance and graduation (despite recent setbacks), and more students reported satisfaction in their schooling. For a school district that struggled for so many years, there is so much positive. But during my time as a Policy Fellow for the State Board of Education, I’ve had the chance to absorb the data and hear upfront about some of the challenges families face here in the District. Overall, while there is much to celebrate, there is much more to do.
First, let’s examine the two most recent NAEP scores for the District – 2015 and 2017. Below is a graphic that compares the NAEP results for the District by race.
Overall, there are distinct differences between races when it comes to student achievement. How can we make these equal? What positives can we take from the overall strengthening of scores over time and apply to everyone? How can we ensure that success is shared by all?
By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow
On April 6, 2018 the Aspen Institute hosted the launch of the “Youth and Family Calls to Action,” which are ambitious goals and demands emanating from the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. The National Commission’s goal is to explore how to make social, emotional, and academic development part of the fabric of every school by drawing from research and promising practices.
To usher in the launch of the Calls to Action, the Aspen Institute brought in students, parents, and teachers, who were all members of the National Commission, to discuss the thinking behind these goals and the relevance of them in today’s educational landscape. Tim Shriver (Co-Founder and Chair of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) set the tone of the morning by asking guests to imagine transforming the country by fighting the pervasive negativity and apathy through education. He said that through grassroots efforts, and conversations like these, change could come. His words were echoed by panelists who discussed the importance of realigning education to meet 21st Century needs.
By: Abby Ragan, Policy Fellow
Earlier this month, SBOE representatives Ashley Carter and Ruth Wattenberg joined SBOE staff in a visit to Jefferson Academy (JA), a DCPS community middle school located in Ward 6. The environment at Jefferson Academy during the SBOE visit was warm and welcoming from the moment we entered the building. Everyone from security guards to front office staff to leadership to teachers to students were incredibly helpful and demonstrated a love for their school.
The morning started with a conversation with Principal Greg Dohmann about the school’s history. Jefferson Middle School was rebranded as Jefferson Academy in 2011, giving rise to a new generation of Jefferson achievement. Jefferson’s feeder schools are primarily Amidon-Bowen Elementary School, Brent Elementary School, Tyler Elementary School, Van Ness Elementary School, and Thomson Elementary School although Jefferson received students from 29 different schools this year. Its destination school is Eastern High School. School enrollment reached 305 students in the 2016-2017 school year, with current numbers for this year at 316. The school expects this trend of enrollment growth to continue, especially considering their upcoming school modernization. 2/3 of the students who attend Jefferson are out of boundary, mainly coming from Wards 7 and 8. Jefferson has a vision called “Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs)”: they are working to make 1) Jefferson the highest achieving middle school in D.C. for all students and for 2) all members of the JA community to love school.
By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow
In December 2017 and early January 2018, the Board members attended a variety of events around the DC community, interacting with students and parents alike. Many Board members took tours of schools during December and January, witnessing teachers and students in action firsthand.
• Ashley Carter (At-Large) visited Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
• Laura Wilson Phelan (Ward 1) highlighted the tremendous work of our #DCGradReqs Task Force as a panelist on a National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) webinar focused on equity in high school graduation requirements.
By: Matt Repka, Policy Analyst
District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Antwan Wilson conducted a Facebook Live interview on Friday to talk about a new initiative in DCPS focused on young women of color. The interview, conducted from the DCPS Central Office in Northeast Washington, briefly discussed DCPS’ new “Reign: Empowering Young Women as Leaders” initiative, which promotes opportunities for young women of color in the school system. The initiative will continue through the 2017-18 school year.
Yesterday, Mayor Muriel Bowser welcomed back DC Public Schools (DCPS) teachers for School Year 2017-2018 with a huge announcement. DCPS teachers are finally close to getting a new contract. At Bunker Hill Elementary School in Ward 5 with several education leaders at her side, Mayor Bowser unveiled a new teacher contract proposal that, if approved, will yield a 9% raise for DCPS teachers. Mayor Bowser was joined by City Administrator Rashad Young, Councilmember David Grosso, Deputy Mayor for Education Jennie Niles, DCPS Chancellor Antwan Wilson, Washington Teachers Union President Liz Davis, and Bunker Hill Elementary School Principal Kara Kuchemba to announce the news.
Under the proposed contract, educators will receive:
- salary increases, including a 4 percent retroactive increase in Fiscal Year 2017, a 3 percent increase in Fiscal Year 2018, and a 2 percent increase in Fiscal Year 2019;
- additional benefits; and
- structured collaborative engagement between DCPS and the WTU on various issues, including extended-year schools.
Over the last school year, DC Public Schools employed more than 4,000 teachers who served approximately 50,000 students across 115 schools. Teachers have not received a base salary raise since 2012. DC Public School teachers enjoy the highest first-year teacher salary nationwide at $53,000 currently.
The nearly 4,500 members of the Washington Teachers Union are now tasked with voting on the proposal over the next two weeks. Eleven extended-year schools began school yesterday and the remaining schools will start the school year on Monday, August 21.
Mayor’s Press Release
Mayor Bowser’s Facebook Live Announcement – Recording
Councilmember Grosso applauds tentative new teacher contract
At June’s public meeting, State Board members voted on the final version of the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) report presented by SBOE Student Representative Alex Dorosin of Wilson High School. This report is the second annual report presented by the Student Advisory Committee (SAC). The SAC met four times over the course of the 2016-2017 school year and selected seven key topics that the SAC feels can be changed or improved in the DC education system.The proposals submitted by the SAC focused on graduation requirements, security, access to humanities and civic engagement courses, hall sweeps, food and nutrition, grading systems, and student socialization.
Student representatives have been pivotal to the success of the work of the SBOE. Our student representatives and SAC members offer a unique perspective on how policies actually impact the District’s students. The Student Advisory Committee serves as the voice of students in the State Board’s work. They are consulted on all issues of policy before the State Board. Student Representatives serve as co-chairs of the Student Advisory Committee. The Committee is composed of a minimum of 15 high school students, one from each of the 10 largest (by student population) high schools in the District and 5 additional members from other high schools. Read the report here.