SBOE Provides Feedback on Credit Recovery and Personalized Learning Plans

Feedback Photo

By: Alexander Jue, Policy Analyst

In October 2018, the DC State Board of Education (SBOE) was asked by two agencies to submit feedback and comments on a draft policy and a draft research report. The District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) solicited public comment on its draft credit recovery policy that they hope to implement in January 2019, while the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor (ODCA) reached out to SBOE asking for comments on a draft report highlighting options for a personalized learning plan pilot program in the District; the report is scheduled to be released in the coming weeks. Both agencies reached out to SBOE for feedback due to SBOE’s previous work over the past year in both of these issue areas.

Below are definitions from the National Survey on High School Strategies Designed to Help At-Risk Students Graduate (HSS) that provide a high-level definition of the two policy areas on which SBOE recently provided feedback.

  • Credit recovery – The HSS defines credit recovery as a strategy that encourages at-risk students to retake a previously failed course required for high school graduation and earn credit if the student successfully completes the course requirements. Credit recovery courses may be available online or in alternative settings and can be scheduled at different times to suit the needs of the student.”
  • Personalized learning plans – The HSS defines a personalized learning plan as a formalized process that involves students setting learning goals based on personal, academic, and career interests with the close support of school personnel or other individuals that can include teachers, school counselors, and parents. Personalized learning plans are developed in a way that identifies the types of skills students need to pursue their academic and career interests and the steps required to build those skills, which may be attained through traditional educational pathways or through other innovative delivery mechanisms.”

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SBOE Submits Student-focused Recommendations on DCPS Chancellor Search

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

Today, the DC State Board of Education (SBOE), including the Student Representatives and Student Advisory Committee, urged Mayor Muriel Bowser to make certain that any candidate for chancellor of DC Public Schools (DCPS) possess at least six qualities. Many of the SBOE recommended qualities have been echoed in community forums and meetings across the District. The SBOE wants every student to be valued and have the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to become informed, competent, and contributing global citizens.

The summary of recommended qualities for the mayor to consider when selecting the next chancellor was sent in a letter to Bowser this morning. The selected candidate must be insightful and proactive, committed to analyzing and sharing data with the public, committed to incorporating public trust from families, willing to innovate, capable and committed to championing DCPS, and focused on building relationships and rebuilding trust.

The State Board looks forward to  working alongside the Interim Deputy Mayor for Education and the Our Schools Leadership Committee as they work on synthesizing findings and recommendations prior to the selection.

On the Agenda: DME Update on DCPS Chancellor Search

DME Briefs SBOE on DCPS Chancellor Search

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

At this month’s working session held this past Wednesday, Interim Deputy Mayor for Education (DME) Ahnna Smith spoke to State Board members about the ongoing search for the new District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor. Mayor Bowser launched the search process earlier this summer, appointing the Our Schools Leadership Committee (OSLC) to advise her on the selection and hold community meetings to gather information from residents. Deputy Mayor Smith shared feedback from the recently conducted Chancellor search community forums and asked State Board members for their thoughts on the process and the qualities needed in a successful Chancellor candidate. The goal of the OSLC is to serve as an advisory body that ensures that the feedback the mayor receives from the community is collected in a balanced, thorough, and equitable way. You can watch the lively discussion on our YouTube page.

Two out of the three scheduled forums have already taken place, at Cardozo Education Campus and Savoy Elementary School. Ms. Smith said that approximately 300 diverse stakeholders of students, parents, educators, and community members registered to attend the two events, and there are over 100 RSVPs for next week’s third and final forum at Brookland Middle School on September 11. During these community forums, people are being asked directly about how they feel about the current direction of DCPS, both positive and negative. The goal is to receive direct and frank feedback in order to make the best choice possible.

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Transforming Public School Teaching in the Nation’s Capital

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.

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SBOE Student Rep Co-leads Ward 8 Education Town Hall

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.

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Not Losing Sight of Achievement Goals for All

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.

NAEP

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?

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Launch of the Youth and Family Calls to Action

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.

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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.

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Big Hairy Audacious Goals at Jefferson Academy

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.

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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.

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State Board in the Community: January 2018

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.

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DCPS Chancellor Wilson Promotes Reign Initiative on #FacebookLive

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.

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