Paul’s Top 5 Moments at SBOE

SBOE Staff 2019

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

So many firsts. My first government job. My first time working with politicians. My first time running multiple social media accounts and a blog. In October 2016, I stepped into a position that did not exist before. Excited, yet intimidated, I relished the opportunity to develop the role into what it is today. Much thanks goes to our Executive Director John-Paul Hayworth, our tremendous staff, and our passionate Board members for trusting me with this role and allowing me to make it my own. As I finish up my final week serving as public affairs specialist for the DC State Board of Education, here are a few moments I won’t soon forget.

1. #SBOESelfieTours

SBOE Selfie Tour 2017

As a staff member, I loved getting out into the community and visiting District public schools as often as possible. This helped keep my ears to the ground and helped to connect the education policies we were working on with the realities of children attending school. Whether it was Back-to-School events, school tours, education events, or student representative swearing-ins, I always felt honored I was able to capture these moments as they happened. In spring 2017, we embarked on the first #SBOESelfieTour, a public engagement campaign where staff and Board members visited a variety of schools over a one or two-day period to help promote specific policy issues or campaigns. During these quarterly tours, we dropped off flyers and materials about our open applications for student representative and Student Advisory Committee, applications to join our High School Graduation Requirements and Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) task forces, and back-to-school information on the work of the State Board, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Office of the Student Advocate. The ultimate bonding experience for staff, these outings proved to be a great way for us to connect with the schools we served.

2. Going Live

#DCGradReqs Task Force Meeting 2017

Running a livestream for every public meeting, working session, and task force over the last three years was thrilling, challenging, and nerve-wracking all at the same time. Every conversation, debate, vote, public testimony, and ceremonial resolution was captured live via our Periscope or FacebookLive feed. I wouldn’t call myself an expert videographer or photographer, but I managed to hone my craft as time went on. The toughest parts were when the WiFi or phone connection would drop or when I needed to inconspicuously capture substantive conversations at our task force meetings. Our dedicated group of viewers always keep me on my toes in the chat box, never really leaving me a moment to relax. But, I loved engaging with them in real time to help make their viewing experience valuable.

3. ESSA Community Engagement

ESSA Community Meeting 2017

In February 2017, the State Board partnered with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to co-host community meetings in all eight wards of the District. Members engaged with the public on the draft Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan to find out what community members wanted DC to include in its final accountability plan. With a smaller staff back then, John-Paul and I traveled around to schools in the District with translation equipment, projectors, printed materials, and a projector screen to ensure these events went off smoothly. It was a sprint that month, with three meetings per week for four weeks straight in the evenings. But, it was worth it! It was a great way for me to learn the unique challenges and concerns of residents in every part of this city early on in my time at SBOE.

4. Spotlight on Teacher Retention

Teacher Retention Forum 2018

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. In October last year, we 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. The impact of this report has been wide-ranging, and the State Board has continued to analyze this issue in 2019. Through community forums, expert panels, and engagement with teachers and administrators throughout the District, we have deepened our knowledge on this issue. The SBOE is poised to continue the conversation in the new school year and I am grateful to have been a part of these efforts to shine a light on such an important issue.

5. Launching the SBOE Blog

When I started my role, I wanted to create a way for us to connect more with the community. I felt that SBOE needed a way for Board members and staff to share their views on specific education policy issues. I also wanted a space for us to publish information, feedback, and takeaways from key events. Thus, this blog was born in December 2016. With the breadth of communications and media relations functions I performed over the years, it was a challenge at times to carve out time each month to get content posted. But, with the help of our dedicated staff, we’ve managed to post a few blogs each month. It’s been a great outlet for us to get our voice across in a unique way.

  • SBOE SelfieTour 2017
  • EdFest 2017
  • SBOE SelfieTour 2018
  • DCPS Pride 2019
  • Langley Elementary Tour 2019
  • SBOE Staff August 2019
  • Staff Nats Game 2017
  • SBOE Excel Academy Visit 2018
  • SBOE Staff May 2019

Together, we’ve worked hard to communicate the message of the State Board through meetings, task force sessions, selfie tours, press releases, community newsletters, media responses, and countless community events. With a focus on transparency, we streamed every public meeting, working session, and task force meeting live on Periscope and FacebookLive. With the help of staff and our dedicated fellows, we’ve been able to expand our social media presence – adding an Instagram and LinkedIn account and maximizing our Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube pages.

And now, I am fully ready to take on a new professional challenge! I am staying in DC, so I’ll be close. From time to time, I may pull up a SBOE meeting on Periscope to catch the latest on the work of the State Board. It will be a nice change to be on the other side, watching as an interested and supportive District resident. I can’t wait to see what’s next for SBOE.

SBOE #EdPolicy Research Roundup: January 2019

By: Alexander Jue, Policy Analyst

Ensuring research and policy concepts are accessible to all stakeholders in our communities is important. Think tanks and policy-based organizations release reports and their findings on a regular basis, but some times the information contained within these reports can be difficult to navigate and understand to a more novice reader or layperson.

Each month, the DC State Board of Education (SBOE) will feature and summarize a collection of reports highlighting trends and issues in education policy. SBOE will discuss the key findings, as well as explain the implication of the reports to the State Board’s work and priorities. This month we feature two reports: one from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) on the importance of teacher diversity and a second from the National School Climate Center (NSCC) on creating school communities.  

“A Vision and Guidance for a Diverse and Learner-Ready Teacher Workforce” – Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), January 10, 2019

Summary: Students benefit when their teachers come from varying backgrounds—racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic. Today, nearly 50 percent of American public school students identify as people of color, compared to only 20 percent of their teachers. CCSSO highlights research that demonstrates “students exposure to people who are different from themselves, and the ideas and challenges that such exposure brings, leads to improved cognitive skills, including critical thinking and problem solving.” The CCSSO report discusses the need for “deliberate attention to build current as well as future teachers’ capacity to enact pedagogies and practices that recognize and embrace students’ cultures as assets in the classroom.” CCSSO suggests that all teachers be “learner-ready”—meaning teachers have developed the deep knowledge of their content and how to teach it, understand differing needs amongst students, and demonstrate leadership and shared responsibility. The CCSSO report casts a vision for what education systems look like when there is a diverse and learner-ready workforce, and outlines a series of preservice and in-service policy recommendations for achieving their vision.

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Making the Grade: ESSA School Report Card Design Challenge

SBOE Team with Secretary Devos

By: Brian Robinson, Policy Fellow

Last week, the US Department of Education and the Data Quality Campaign welcomed policy makers, parents, researchers, educators, and students from all over the country to the Cleveland Park Library in Washington, DC. Our task was to work in groups to design a prototype for a school report card that meets the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA was signed into law in 2015 by President Obama and requires that state education agencies develop report cards for each school that provides accurate, accessible, and actionable data to the public.

Many states will assign letter grades (A-F) or stars (1-5) to schools based on a pre-determined formula that largely takes into account academic achievement and growth measured by student performance on statewide-standardized assessments. In D.C., policymakers have committed to a School Transparency and Reporting System (STAR) framework. All traditional public schools and public charter schools will receive a STAR rating (ranging from 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the highest).

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SBOE Weekly EdLinks: 07/15/2018

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

Here’s your weekly rundown of education local/national news and events here in the District.

SBOE QUOTED IN THE NEWS
D.C. Officials Irked by Report of Unlicensed Teachers | Washington Informer

Statement on Mayor’s Veto of School Promotion and Graduation Fairness Emergency Act of 2018 | Markus Batchelor

How 2 Communities in DC, One White One Black, Work Together | Afro

NATIONAL NEWS
Detroit schools will hire teachers without classroom experience, sparking debate | Chalkbeat
Detroit’s main district is proceeding with a plan to hire teachers who are certified but have received no training in the classroom — adding an element of controversy to efforts to fill hundreds of teacher vacancies by the end of summer.

Indiana State Board of Education approves graduation pathway policy | Fox59
The Indiana State Board of Education (Board) on Wednesday approved policy guidance for Graduation Pathways by a 10-0 vote. The policy guidance will be used by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) and schools across the state to implement Graduation Pathways, which the Board approved in December 2017.

Controversial Discipline Program Not to Blame for Parkland School Shooting, Commission Finds | EdWeek
A controversial school discipline program adopted by the Broward County, Fla., district to reduce student arrests cannot be blamed for the shooting by a former student there, a state commission said Tuesday.

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My Final Thoughts – Abby Ragan

By: Abby Ragan, Policy Fellow

My name is Abby Ragan and I am finishing up a term as a Policy Fellow here at the State Board. I graduated magna cum laude from American University last December with a bachelor’s in International Relations. Although my background has been more in the nonprofit space, I later realized I wanted to pursue a career in education policy and soon obtained a job offer joining Teach For America (TFA) here in the District of Columbia. Because of the gap between a December graduation and a summer start to my commitment with TFA and, thus, the opportunity to really explore anything I wanted, I searched long and hard for experiences where I would feel like I was making a difference and learning new things about the world around me.

In thinking about the months since, I know I will never be able to put into words the growth I have experienced here. As it comes to a close, I look forward to taking this new knowledge forward into the classroom as a English teacher this coming fall. Unlike many other internships and fellow positions, I didn’t spend my time making coffee or filing papers. At the State Board, I have had the opportunity to really engage with policy during a huge time of change for the District by writing memos and resolutions and watching DC Council hearings as well as push my research, data management, and writing skills to the next level. I have learned so much about the policy process and the educational landscape of the District while making a real impact on SBOE work, and I have never felt more a part of the DC community.

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Implications of the 2017 NAEP Results

By: Kit Faiella, Policy Fellow

On April 25th, three big names in education policy research gathered to discuss the implications of the 2017 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) results. All three are senior fellows at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Chester Finn is the president emeritus of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and a member of the Maryland State Board of Education. He has been at the forefront of the national education debate for 35 years. Eric Hanushek is a widely-cited researcher known for his combination of economic analysis and educational issues. He has authored or edited 24 books and over 200 articles, and earned his Ph.D in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Finally, Paul Peterson is currently a government professor at Harvard University and the senior editor of Education Next magazine. Four of his more than 30 books have been recognized by the American Political Science Association as the best works in their field. The discussion was moderated by Amber Northern, the senior vice president for research at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

“What do the scores mean?” was the first question posed to the group, and each speaker had a different take on the NAEP data: “each year we generate excitement about a flat line” was Dr. Hanushek’s response; “something changed in 2009” was Dr. Peterson’s response; and Dr. Finn noted that the achievement gains in NAEP have been inequitable. But the conversation quickly focused on accountability – did the scores flatline in 2009 because of the end of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) -era provisions, or in spite of them? Dr. Chester pointed out that the heavy-handed accountability may have worked to elevate scores for a time, but the flattening NAEP scores in later years of the Act demonstrated a ceiling for student achievement under the NCLB provisions. The panelists agreed with his point, but were also quick to note that NCLB was a “bad law” which the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has done a great job in replacing.

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The Future of American Schools is Bright

By: Abby Ragan, Policy Fellow

On April 25, The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institute and George W. Bush Institute co-hosted a forum called “Beyond Reading and Math: How to Accelerate Success for Students.” Under the new federal school accountability law, ESSA, states and schools now have the ability to both widen the definition of school accountability and push towards improved school quality and student achievement. The forum featured framing remarks by Jason Botel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education, and a roundtable. Furthermore, the event publicized the release of a new Hamilton Project strategy paper on ESSA implementation, discussing state strategies for reducing rates of chronic absenteeism and framing the conversation going forwards.

After Mr. Botel grounded the forum’s conversation in student-centered solutions and empowered state innovation, the research authors presented their findings on chronic absenteeism. Theories connecting being physically present in school to better academic outcomes have never been more substantiated, yet NAEP scores show stagnation nationwide and a widening gap between subgroups while about 6.8 million students in the United States missed more than three weeks of school during the 2013- 2014 school year (Attendance Works and Everyone Graduates Center 2017). Further, the research shows that chronic absenteeism is persistent; in other words, schools that experience chronic absenteeism tended to show similarly high rates of such year after year. The District, too, has been battling these same issues for several years.

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Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

By: Maria Salciccioli, Senior Policy Analyst

Earlier this month, I attended the Aspen Institute’s event: The Practice Base for How We Learn: Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. The event was cohosted with the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. I was interested to learn what they’d be saying, in part because the State Board of Education’s ESSA Task Force is examining all aspects of how to provide a well-rounded education, and focusing on students’ emotional as well as academic development is increasingly gaining respect as a key strategy.

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Tour of Eagle Academy PCS

By: Maria Salciccioli, Senior Policy Analyst

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At the Board’s January Public Meeting, we heard testimony on the ESSA school report cards that the SBOE is working with the Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) to produce. Two school leaders testified that the format of the report cards disadvantages schools that only serve early childhood students, because it only includes growth from 3rd grade onward. Pre-K through 3rd grade schools make tremendous gains with their students during those years, which won’t be evident to families who look at school report cards in their current form.

With this information, the Board aims to partner with OSSE to think about nuanced ways to present early childhood schools’ student outcomes. Board member Dr. Lannette Woodruff (Ward 4) wanted to understand what an early childhood campus really looks like, so I joined her for a tour of Eagle Academy PCS. Eagle’s CEO, Dr. Joe Smith, was one of the school leaders who testified at our meeting. We visited the Congress Heights location, since it’s the larger of the two.

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Make Your Voice Heard on the ESSA School Report Card

By: Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist

The DC State Board of Education (SBOE) will hold its monthly public meeting on Wednesday, January 17, 2018, at 5:30 p.m. in the Old Council Chambers at 441 4th Street NW. The SBOE wants to hear the community’s thoughts on the proposed content of a new school report card that will provide the same information about every public and public charter school in the District. The school report card will contain two kinds of data: information that is required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and information that is important to the residents of the District. The public may sign up online to testify at this month’s SBOE Public meeting about the school report card. The deadline to sign up is 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 16, 2017. Residents who testify will have three minutes to provide their input and recommendations to the SBOE.

At Tuesday night’s SBOE ESSA Task Force meeting, representatives from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) outlined updates to their content and format proposal for the new report card. Task force members reviewed the proposal and provided comments and recommendations. This proposal was based on feedback from State Board members, community members, and the members of the ESSA Task Force. Over the next few weeks, OSSE will work with the SBOE to finalize the content proposal with the intention that the State Board will vote on the proposal at its February public meeting.